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People's Daily Online>>PD Online Database >> Ethnic Odyssey

The Yao ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

17:32, August 19, 2011

Population: 2.13 million

Major area of distribution: Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong and Guizhou

Language: Yao and Miao

Religion: Polytheis


Photo: Chen Haiwen


The Yaos, with a population of 2.13 million, live in mountain communities scattered over 130 counties in five south China provinces and one autonomous region. About 70 per cent of them live in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the rest in Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Jiangxi provinces.

Historically, the Yaos have had at least 30 names based on their ways of production, lifestyles, dresses and adornments. The name "Yao" was officially adopted after the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

Half of the Yaos speak the Yao language belonging to the Chinese-Tibetan language family, others use Miao or Dong languages. As a result of close contacts with the Hans and Zhuangs, many Yaos also have learned to speak Chinese or Zhuang language.

Before 1949, the Yaos did not have a written language. Ancient Yaos kept records of important affairs by carving notches on wood or bamboo slips. Later they used Chinese characters. Hand-written copies of words of songs are on display in the Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County in Guangxi. They are believed to be relics of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient stone tablets engraved with Chinese characters can be found in a lot of Yao communities.

Most Yaos live in beautiful, humid mountain valleys densely covered with pines, firs, Chinese firs, Chinese cinnamons, tung oil trees, bamboos and tea bushes. The thickly forested Jianghua Yao Autonomous County in Hunan is renowned as the "home of Chinese firs." The places inhabited by the Yaos also abound in indigo, edible funguses, bamboo shoots, sweet grass, mushrooms, honey, dye yam, jute and medical herbs. The forests are teeming with wild animals such as boars, bears, monkeys, muntjacs and masked civets. Rich as they are in natural resources, the Yao mountain areas are ideal for developing a diversified economy.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:刘晓宁)

Leave your comment3 comments

  1. Name

FtIboMFLrNynC at 2011-09-11130.54.21.*
Stay inmforative, San Diego, yeah boy!
JZCVFPwfBUM at 2011-09-04209.164.48.*
Whvoeer wrote this, you know how to make a good article.
QTmoOOUqTMkcCCuRQ at 2011-09-0264.183.212.*
That"s more than ssenible! That"s a great post!
  

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