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The She ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

17:33, August 19, 2011

Population: 634,700

Major area of distribution: Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Guangdong

Language: She

Photo: Chen Haiwen

The 634,700 Shes are scattered in Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces. They live in villages of several dozen households or live along with Hans. Most reside in hilly country 500 to 1,500 meters high. Rivers have carved out their valleys. The climate is mild and humid, the frost season brief, and the land fertile. Agricultural products abound: rice, sweet potatoes, wheat, rape, beans, tobacco and potatoes are just a few.

Timber and bamboo are important commercial commodities for the Shes; other native produce include tea, oil tea, dried and cured bamboo shoots, peanuts, ramie, mushroom, camphor and medicinal herbs. Mineral resources include coal, iron, gold, copper, alum, graphite, sulfur, talcum, mica and many other non-ferrous metals.

The She language is very close to the Hakka dialect of the Hans, and most Shes speak Chinese instead of their ethnic tongue; a few Guangdong Shes speak a language similar to the Miao.

How the Shes Live

Shes like to sing. They sing in the fields as well as on special festival occasions, and every year Shes participate in several singing festivals. Shes like to sing duets, but they sing alone as well.

Women wear clothes with flowers, birds and geometric embroidery. Often they wear bright-colored sashes or bamboo hats, decorated with pearls and trimmed with white or red silk lace. Lace is also used to trim clothing.

In some areas, women wear shorts year-round. When they do so, they wrap their legs and wear colorful waist sashes and jackets with lace. They coil their hair on top of the heads and tie it with red wool thread. On her wedding day, a She bride will wear a phoenix coronet held in place by silver hairpins.

The She families are organized by "ancestral temples" together with people of the same surname or clan. Each such temple has a chief responsible for settling internal disputes, administering public affairs and presiding over sacrificial ceremonies. Within each temple are the "fangs," under which blood-related groups live together.

The basic living and production unit remains the patriarchal family, led by the eldest man. Still, She women enjoy a higher status than their Han sisters. In fact, She men often live with their wives' families and adopt their surnames.

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Leave your comment4 comments

  1. Name

ZKStNIrTRUodaWPckcU at 2011-11-0969.73.136.*
I found just what I was needed, and it was entretaining!
tFrHjNbcUTRiMQmbnka at 2011-11-08190.160.202.*
Artlices like this make life so much simpler.
mgzQMWBLUgfYENU at 2011-09-0579.170.50.*
I"ll keep on reading
JIwwAqZxXebUtq at 2011-09-03203.184.19.*
Good article!

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