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The De'ang ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

17:07, August 25, 2011

Population: 15,500

Major area of distribution: Yunnan

Language: De'ang

Religion: Buddhism


Photo: Chen Haiwen


The number of De'ang people in China totals 15,500. Small as their population is, the people of this ethnic group are quite widely distributed over Yunnan Province. Most of them dwell in Santai Township in Luxi County of the Dehong Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture and in Junnong Township in Zhenkang County of the Lincang Prefecture. The others live scattered in Yingjiang, Ruili, Longchuan, Baoshan, Lianghe and Gengma counties. Some De'angs live together with the Jingpo, Han, Lisu and Va nationalities in the mountainous areas. And a small number of them have their homes in villages on flatland peopled by the Dais The De'ang language belongs to the South Asian family of languages. The De'angs have no written script of their own, and many of them have learned to speak the Dai, Han or Jingpo languages, and some can read and write in the Dai language. An increasing number of them have picked up the Han language in years after the mid-20th century.

In the mountainous areas of Gaoligong and Nushan ranges in western Yunnan Province, the De'ang people have been living there for generations. The climate here is subtropical, and there is fertile soil, abundant rainfall, rich mineral resources and dense forests. The dragon bamboo here grows very long and has a stem with a diameter of 10 cm to 13 cm. The Zhenkang area has been famed for this kind of bamboo for the past 2,000 years. It is used to build houses and make household utensils and farm implements. Bamboo shoots are a famed delicacy.

The De'angs, who took to farming since very ancient times, grow both wet and upland rice, corn, buckwheat and tuber crops as well as walnut and jute. And they have learned to cultivate tea, cotton, coffee, and rubber after the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

The De'angs have been great tea drinkers since very early times, and now every family has tea bushes growing among vegetables, banana, mango, jack fruit, papaya, pear and pomegranate trees in a garden around the house.



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