Cultural Identities of Yao Zu
My howntown is Yao Autonomous County of Ruyuan. An ancicent nation is living here. It is an interesting exprience that I am Chinese Han people but I live in the Yao living area. Indeed, it is familiar but mysterious for me. Now, I want to introduce Yao this community’s commom cultural identities to you.
Yao Zu is an ancient national minority in China. The people are simple, honest ans unspoiled. Yao call themseleves “Mian”, “Jin Men”, “Bu Nu” and ect.
1.Region in geography
The Yao nationality is a typical mountain ethnic group in south of China. It is distributed mainly over Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Hainan provinces of China. The tribes are near the mountains, such as mountains with 1000 metres above sea level, jungles, less people live in rocky mountains, hilly areas and river valley areas. In this way, they creat their own unique mountain culture. In addition, people live together over vast areas while some live in individual concentrated communities in small areas.
In my hometown, you would not see Yao people at the foot of mountain, most of them stay on the mountains, and we call there Yao stockaded villege. They seldom go downhill, except on market-day or some big festivals. That’s why I think it mysterious for people of the town. Here is an unbelivable story that we even don’t know some of our classmates come from Yao Zu unless they tell us without being asked.
Here is 3 groups of Yao word’s Chinese pronuncitation and it’s English trnslation.
Weng Gu——(Grandma) (Weng)——(Grandpa)
The Yao native language belongs to Sino-Tibetan language. In history, there is no character of Yao. Some experts and special departments helped the people to creat letters after research. The character consists of 26 latin letters, 30 intials, 102 finals and 8 tones.
It’s worth mentioning that there exists a kind of mysterious symbols in people’s daily living equipments and costume, for examples, quilt, apron string and gallusus, and I would remention it in the text below.
Except Chinese traditional festivals, it has it’s own fesivials, like The Panwang Festival, Shuagetang Fesitival and Sun clothes Festival.
Next I take two of the biggest festivals, The panwang festival and Shuagetang Festival as examples.
The Panwang festival, alternate name is Tiaowang festival. For offering sacrifice to their ancestor Panhu, Chinese Yao population would celebrate on the sixth day of the ten lunar mouth every year. People prepare so much delicious food like killing chickens and geese for Panhu, and perform shows like singing folk songs and dancing with bamboo which is called bamboo dance.
For Yao population, this festival gathers not only themselves but also their hearts, and inherit as well as develop their traditional culture. Worshiping the same ancestor Panhu, having the same culture and living in the same rigion, strengthen their national unity. For the other people, they could learn about different cultures and see the other side of the world.
Remebering the dead and the dearly departed, recalling the history, celebrating the harvest and spreading Yao culture set Shuagetang Festival. Shuagetang is divided into two types, Big Shuagetang Festival and Small Shuagetang Festival. The holding time difference between The Panwang Festival is that Big Shuagetang Fesitval is held once every three or five years, and Small Shuagetang Festival is held once every two or three years, while they are on the same date.
As I mentioned above, Yao has no character, so Shuagetang has become an important carrier of cultural communication and historical inheritance. The folk songs on everyone’s lips provide sufficient research material for it’s formation time and folk religion. What’s more, it reflects national art form, social formation, and historical morphology of that time, and has important research value.
The part is also my favorite and what I know best. The shools in my howntown belongs to Yao Zu, and they has characters of Yao in building, social activitites. For examples, we would hold Bamboo Dance Match every year in my school. To be honest, I love the dance very much! You must be surprised and be eager to try when you see many boys and girls dance so well with bamboos. Furthermore, we would have a day off on The Panwang festival and join the celebration activities.
Interestingly, Yao had all kinds of alter names because of wearing different clothes, such as “Red Dao”, “Daban Yao”, “Pingtou Yao”, “Lan Dian Yao”. Yao keeps the traditional attributes in costume, especially distinct between men’s clothing and women’s clothing. Women are good at embroidery, embroidering on cuff and leg opeing and lappet with an artistic design, while men wear symmetrical pieces long sleeve cloth without collar. By the time boys and girls are fifteen or sixteen years old, they should wear headcloth in stead of flower-trimmed bonnet, meaning physicall mature.
In fact, it’s beautiful and intricately detailed design implies Yao mysterious symbols. There are at least 120 characters, which is a breakthrough historically.
we would give dress or some embroideries with beautiful designs as gifts to guests, for instance, exchange students from different regions, visitors and foreign friends. In my senior high school, there is an embroider organizeation which is organized by students. They often sell their fancy work to raise fund for the poor, and they could gain the sense of fulfillment and happiness.
The traditional culture of Yao Zu has been passes from family to family, from generation to generation. It is fruit of Yao popultion’s hard work, and silent language. We need to protect it and help Yao population develop it well.