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Home About Guilin Profile Guilin Population & People
Guilin Population & People PDF Print E-mail

Population: 1.34 million.

Urban population: 620,000.

Ethnic groups: Zhuang, Dong, Miao and Yao.


Zhuang People

The Zhuang are the most prevalent among the ethnic minorities in China . Guilin is one of the homes of the Zhuang nationality. Zhuang ethnic nationality is centuries old and scattered across the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Yunnan Province, Guangdong Province and Guizhou Province. Their culture is particularly rich and colorful.




The traditional costume of the Zhuang people are simple in design, favoured colours being black and blue. The women dress fairly simply, they will wrap their head with an embroidered towel as head wear and put on an apron covered with exquisite handwork around their waists. Zhuang ladies will also wear intricate pieces of handmade silver earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Little decorative ornaments are always worn with a Zhuang woman's Suit. The men's costume on the other hand are similar in design to the T'ang style.

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A multied storied ganlan is the unique style of construction for their houses. The upper floor is reserved as the living area and is divided into three or five rooms. Before the hall there is a kitchen for cooking and a place for getting warm. Above this floor, the attic is for storing foodstuffs.


Daily Life

In Zhaung custom and tradition, elders are to be respected, failure to do so is usually frowned upon by others. The elders in turn take on the responsibility of looking after the children. Children are revered and never treated badly. If a baby is short of breast milk, other mother will provide it. If you are a guest at someone's house, wine will be presented before you. The only way to reciprocate your gratitude is to drink the wine!

Zhuang culture is steep with taboos, hang around long enough and you will encounter it in their daily lives. Some of them include

  • Not entering a woman's room when she has a three week old baby.
  • Dog flesh can not be cooked in fireplace.
  • A visiting couple cannot sleep in the same roomso.

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Paddy, corn , taro and bean are staples in their diet. Cooked bean, porridge with small amount of meats and rice in bamboo bowl are fragrant and unique. They can cook five-color- rice, ciba and all kinds of glorious rice dumping. Every year on the 3rdMarch, families will cook five-color rice and five-color-eggs. Mix fresh blood with food is a favorite dish in west Guilin area. They think fresh blood can supply vigor. Unless a distinguished guest, he will not enjoy it.



The festivals of Zhuangs' are almost the same as those of Han Chinese. Ghost Festival, also named ZhongYuan Festival, is on June 14. Every family will braise five color glorious rice and sacrifice cooked chickens ancestors.Niu Hun Festival (Cattle King Festival) is held the day in spring ploughing. A family bring a box of five colors glorious rice and a band of grass to byre to sacrifice cattle's spirits. Half of the food will feed to cattle. It is said cattle lose spirits when they are working in farm, so people must get the spirits back.

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Copper Drum is with over two thousand years history. The types of the copper drums are much with different size; the biggest one is over 1 meter in diameter, the lightest one reaches several kilograms and the heaviest of which reaches thousands kilograms. On both sides, relievo decorates the drum noble and elegant. Besides, the body of which is also designed with flower figure. Parlances vary in martial music, folk music, sacrifice music or representative of power and fortune, etc.

Brocade. The Zhuangs' women originated special handicraft Zhuang Brocade, with cotton yarn through longitude and velour going in latitude. The longitude normally is in primitive colors and the latitude is in different colors. Kinds of beautiful designs are weaved over. Zhuang Brocade is used in many purposes. Throughout history, the Zhuangs' women had produced the beautiful special brocade in Tang and Song Dynasty. During Ming and Qing Dynasty, the Zhuang women had been famous all around China. Now, Zhuang Brocade, honored to be folk artic, has been developed greatly; they not only weave traditional designs, but also created new beautiful thing with their skillful hands.


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Sing and Dance. They are famous for capable of sinJingg. SinJingg can be heard everywhere in the Zhuangs region. The famous singer Liu Sanjie, who lived in Tang Dynasty, created ballads with melodious tone to express good will. The songs have been handed down among the common people. The instruments are suona horn, bee-drum, copper-drum, copper-cymbals, Sheng, Xiao, flute and horse-bone-hu.They dance with brilliant subject, the steps of which are powerful and smart. They play lively and humor with all kinds of feelings, which shows their contumacy, love and hatred. The famous are 'embroidered silk ball dance', 'fishing shrimp dance', 'picking tea dance' 'shoulder pole dance' and 'copper drum dance.'


Cultural Arts---Murals on Cliff

The mural on the cliff of Huashan Mountain has been the history of two thousand years. The mural paints almost 1,300 persons with four thousand meters high and hundreds meters long, showing different figures. The biggest portrait on which is high 3 meters, and the smallest one is only 0.3 meter; shapes of tymbal, gong and animals can also be seen. The tone of carving is wild, thick and powerful. The mural mirrors the ancient Zhuangs' living aspects in some distance.

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Zhuang's believe in gods, ancestors, huge stones, old trees, mountains, earth, dragons and birds.


Dong People

Countless villages of Dong ethnic minority nationality are spread in green valleys, where fir trees are luxuriously green and rivers surge forward. Their homelands extend from Liping, Rongjiang, Congjiang, Jinping, Tianzhu, Zhenyuan, Jianhe county in Guizhou Province to Xinhuang, Tongdao, Shuining, and other counties in Hunan Province.

The Dong People wear beautiful simple clothes. The girls will wear flowery scarves on their heads and similar leg wrappings and shoes .



Dongs' villages are built around water and mountains. Terrace peaks rising one higher than another. Storied buildings around riverbank or slopes are called 'diao jiao lou', which is constructed by fir-wood.

A drum tower is specific, and every village has one or more. The drum tower is used to have a meeting or entertainment, especially on festival, the Dongs' people gather there to sing and dance. Design in shape of birds, flowers, dragon and phoenix show grandeur and majesty, which make tower is greatly outstanding.

Kinds of bridges are main drag for traffic. Wind-and-Ring bridges is famous for its character construct and high skill. Chengyang Wind and Ring Bridge is most famous. It is 165 meters long and 10 meters wide,15 to 20 high above; and tile roof on the bridge. Five kiosks are built in shape of multi-angle tower; handrail and pews are set on the bridge. Many tenons in holes link up none a nail the miraculous construction, which is Dongs' masterpiece.



Do not argue on going first on his way.

Do not get money for transition.

Do not enter a room when a baby is born.

Do not support chopsticks on bowls after a meal.

Do not enter a woman's bedroom.

Do not cross legs when sitting and do get stools leaning on walls.

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Festival Flowery shell festival is Dong nationality's traditional festival, a kind of athletic sports on the 3rd lunar month. It is said that the festival originates from a gathering 100 years ago. In order to make it more animated, villages set 3 iron shells, the first tied to a ring with red ribbon. When the shell is shot and the ring fell, villagers strive to get the ring. The one who gets the ring will get the first prize, and so on.

Today, a village as a unit will form a team which carries a big gun, prizes and gifts to go around the market or the town and then shoot three shells. The first implies having a flourishing population, the second a good fortune and the third a bumper harvest. The shell fodder ignites the shell and the iron ring shoots to the sky. Team member eagerly eye the falling rings, with instinct they grab the falling ring. Pass the ring around the groups members, the first team to do so it the winner. It is repeated three times. After the game, the lads and lasses gather together to dance and play the reed-pipe wind instrument. At night, campfires are spread over the land. Young people perform Dong drama and sing in antiphonal style freely. Cheers and laughs are everywhere.



Yueye and Road-blocking Song. In Dong's dialect, Yueye means that the collective go out to be guests, which is the Dong's tradition for sociable activities. Road-blocking song is for Dong nationality to meet or see off guests. The length of the time for Yueye depends on contents. Generally speaking, one person represents one family. Led by the most distinctive of the village, the group will go to the friendly village for a visit. When the guests from Village A come near village B, the hosts from Village B must meet them at the entrance while making blockade on the way with farm tools or household things. Horse team will ask questions by singing and the guest team will answer win songs. When the hosts get the right answer, they will remove the blockade. If the answer is wrong, all the blockades to let in the guests to take part in the rich friendly activities such as performing Dong play, Dong songs, dragon and lion dance, playing reed-pipe wind instrument. At the end, hosts will see off the guests and sing blocking-road songs again to persuade them to stay on. Both teams show their sorrow of parting and also their friendship as fellow countrymen. Embroidery, weave, carve, paper-cut and paper chisel are with vivid character. Bamboo and wood weave produces are elegant and useful with high value.Poesy is winning hearts. The poesy narrate original of the world, describe heroes sing high prize of the truly love.


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Miao People

Miao ethnic minority nationality lives in Guizhou Province , Yunnan Province, Hunan Province , Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Area and Sichuan Province . The Miao can be divided further into sub-groups that can be distinguished by their the different costumes, These are the ' Long Skirt Miao', ' Short Skirt Miao', ' Red Miao', 'Black Miao', 'Highland Miao' and ' Eight Villages Miao' Their homeland has abundant supply of wood, so the architecture of Miao consists mainly of building built with wood.


Daily Life

The Miaos' people respect the old. They make bows with hands folded in front when it is a happy event; and women's hands are not allowed to be shaken. When visits a Miaos' family, sitting beside fire kang, for it is for ancestors. If the host call you make 'Baozong', which means sleep, do not go in bed, sleep on the shakedown, which is for respectable. Rice, corn, potato, wheat are their staple-food. Drinking wine is their hobby. Almost every family make vintage. Rack is more popular. A man and a woman will not get married if they in the same surname. The parents always live with their youngest sons. Young people will find a lover while singing in antiphonal style. When a pair of lovers want to get marriage, they must consult their parents.



Reed-pipe Wind Instrument Festival is traditional. It is not only for trading, but also for youth to find a lovers. During the festival, competing horse skill, ball sports and other events will be held. Festival in different area is different greatly. Dragon Boat Festival, Flower Mountain Festival, Eating New Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, and other festival are go after one another. Tramping Flower Mountain event is important. A couple who can have bear a baby plant a tree near the village and hang a bottle of wine on for praying a child. Young man and woman will dance and sing under the tree, and many of them fall in love.



Singing songs. Miao people all love singing songs. there are eighteen rules in singing in anti -phonal style These are Miaos' rules for singing in anti phonal style. If someone breaks the rules, he or she will be driven out of the singing spot. In the wedding, praising songs will be sang and so will historical stories, legends and astronomy. After the older people go away, the young may sing love songs which have to be implicit. At parting, parting songs will be sang. When lads and lasses sing in artiphonal style, though falling in love, lads are not allowed to give keepsakes to lasses in public. At wedding feast, no riddle song is sung because a riddle song will cause quanels, and damage the happy atmosphere. Singing in antiphonal style, young men are forbidden to invite marred women or engaged girls. If they make a wrong choice, the females will refuse the invitation and return the keepsakes sent by the men. If you ever see Miao people sing, you should take part in it. If you are in a hurry, you should sing to show apology.

LushengTheir folk culture is developed to show their feelings. Lusheng, a kind of reed-pipe wind instrument prevails in Miaos' area. A famous saying in Miao Nationality goes like this: one can not resist tempt to dance when he hears the sound of Lusheng. When guests come, boys play Lusheng and girls dance to welcome guests with Lusheng dance.

Embroidery, weaving, wax-dying and paper-cut are magnificent.



Yao People

Yao nationality is distributed in six provinces but the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region contains the largest population of the Yao people. They have their own language but most would also speak mandarin. Their origins date to the Qin Dynasty. There are several sub-groups within the Yao nationality.Yao people are distinctive by their colorful national dress and often the women will have extremely long hair which is coiled up on top of their head.



Their costume is colorful. In Nandan County of Guangxi, the Yao men wear white bloomers, so they are called ' Baiku Yao'. In Liannan area, Guangdong Province, some of men keep long hair and coiled it up covered with red cloth, several pheasant feather stick in head, which show their handsome pose. The women of yaos are different too, some of them wear short jacket with no collar in upper body, but others are in long coat. In some area three arc silver hairpin is decorated on head, which sometimes weigh half a kilogram.Headgear is colorful. No matter men or women like to wrap hair in shape of basin with long black cloth and they think the bigger it is the beautiful it is. When festival, women will comb hair into a kind shape of tine with colorful handkerchief. Men wrap white coif. Hairstyle is colorful, no matter men or women like to wrap hair into shape of basin with long black cloth, and they think the long it is, the beautiful it is. When festival, women will comb hairstyle into shape of needle and covers with colorful designed handkerchief. A man will tangle a piece of white handkerchief, which is embroidered red and yellow flowery device on both sides and in the middle; the middle device will be on the top and both sides droop on the ears, a triangular earring hung on the left ear.



Houses are mostly made by bamboo with three rooms: the middle is for a hall, both wing-rooms are for fireplace and bedroom. Some multistory building, the upper is for living and the substrate is for livestock. Some of them have a bathroom, and on every night.


Daily Life

The Yaos' are very hospitable. HanJingg bags on when enter door is a custom. When a visitor goes into a family, he should put his bag on the wall of the hall, and then the master will invite you to have a meal. If you don't understand that traditional rule, you would be refused and no one will entertain you.

In Guibei area, Dayou Tea prevails, the way of which is to fry tea with oil and salt, it is to mix fried soybean. A favorite for lunch.

A kind of Guipiao wine is for distinguished guests, which is made from glorious rice. It has a sweet fine taste. The more a guest drink, the happier the master will be. Slaughter animals must not be present to guest unless it is cooked first. Chicken, meat and salt will be placed in bowls, guests or masters must have all in turn, otherwise it will be thought look down on the masters. After a meal, chopsticks will be hung up with both hands to show respect.

A lot of taboo is in their daily life.

  • In morning, don't speak strange word.
  • A woman who has a baby in thirty-three days will not allowed to carry water.
  • When parents are dead, children are prohibited to sit on wooden stool and sleeping in beds.
  • For a guest, to praise fat cattle is a disaster.
  • Speak rude before a woman is bad.
  • A hall cannot be in with straw sandals and to be spited.



Festival is very much on every month. There are Spring Festival, Kitchen God Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, Danu Festival, Shuiwang Festival and so on. In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Area, Danu Festival is more important, which is said to remember the fight against Tusi. Shuiwang Festival is held on every three or five years on traditional Chinese calendar October 16, it is for young people to fall in love.

Longsheng Red Clothes Festival. Women of Red Yao are in favor of red clothes, hence the name. Red Clothes Festival, also known as Zhaina, will be held on March 15 in the lunar calender every year for Sishui Town. On occasions of festivals, Red Yao people gather in Sishui Street to exchange agricultural means of productions and products, buy daily necessities, or visit their friends and relatives. The young people will take the chance to find their lovers. Red Yao people are good at singing and dancing. Folk sports such as bamboo pole balancing, tug-of-wars, and rooster fighting, are really interesting. Women of Red Yao have long and nice hairs. They love to match beauties. A beauty in Red Yao criteria must be pretty, knowledgeable, logical in words, singing well and having good moral standard. Zhainais rich in content and programs include singing in antiphonal style, long drum dance, sports contest, hair competition, and Miss Village contest.With the development of tourist industry, Red Clothes Festival now has become the festival for all nationalities every year. It will be held on March 15 in lunar month, or April 8, at Zhaina (Sishui Village), or at the foot of Longji Mountain.

Long Drum Dance is a traditional art form of Yao Nationality. About 2 chi 5 cun ('chi' and 'cun' and ancient Chinese length measurements), Long Drum is made of Yanzhi wood. The drum is thin in the middle with the decorations of flowers, birds, dragons and phoenix patterns on it. Some long drum has bells on both ends and in the middle. When people play the drum, the bells sound harmoniously with the drum sound. It is said that ZaPanKuai was hit to cliff by brutal antelopes. People then began using skin of antelopes to make drum and beat it when dancing to show the hatred to antelopes and the memorization to their ancestors.



They worship multi-gods and ancestor.


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