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The Mulam ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

09:28, August 10, 2011

Population: 160,600

Major area of distribution: Guangxi

Language: Mulam

Religion: Taoism and Buddhism


Photo: Chen Haiwen

The Mulam ethnic minority has a population of 160,600, of which the majority live in Luocheng County in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Others are scattered in neighboring counties.

The Mulam language is a member of the Zhuang-Dong language group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family, but because of extensive contacts with the majority Han and local Zhuangs many Mulams speak one or both of these languages in addition to their own.

Their homeland is one of rolling hills interspersed with lush green valleys. The Wuyang and Longjiang rivers cross their territory, which has an ideal climate for growing paddy rice, maize, beans, potatoes, melons and cotton. The area is famous for its tea and medicinal herbs, as well as mineral resources such as coal, iron and sulfur.

History

Historical records trace the Mulam ethnic group back to the period of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when their society seems to have been entering the feudal stage. The Mulam villages paid tribute in grain to the imperial court twice a year.

In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) the Mulam areas were divided into "Li," under which were "Dongs" -- units of ten households.

The Dong chief was responsible for collecting taxes and law and order. The Dongs were mostly inhabited by families sharing the same surname. Later, when they increased in size, the Dongs were divided into "Fangs."

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