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The Nu ethnic minority (3)

(People's Daily)

09:39, August 11, 2011

The Nus live in wooden or bamboo houses, each usually consisting of two rooms. The outer one is for guests and also serves as the kitchen. In the middle is the fireplace, with an iron or stone tripod for hanging cooking pots from. The inner room is used as a bedroom and grain storage, and is off-limits to outsiders. The houses are built by the common efforts of all the villagers and are usually erected in one day.

Until the mid-20th century, both men and women wore linen clothes. Girls after puberty wore long skirts and jackets with buttons on the right side. Nu women in Gongshan wrapped themselves in two pieces of linen cloth and stuck elaborately-worked bamboo tubes through their pierced ears. Married women in Bijiang and Fugong wore coral, agate, shell and silver coin ornaments in their hair and on their chests. For earrings they used shoulder-length copper rings. Besides, all Nu women like to adorn themselves with thin rattan bracelets, belts and anklets. Nu men wear linen gowns and shorts, and carry axes and bows and arrows.

The staple food of the Nus is maize and buckwheat. They rarely grow vegetables. In the past, just before the summer harvest they had to gather wild plants to keep alive. Both men and women drink large quantities of strong liquor.

The Nus were animists, and objects of worship included the sun, moon, stars, mountains, rivers, trees and rocks. The shamans were often clan or commune chiefs and practiced divination to ensure good harvests. Apart from that, their duties also included primitive medicine and the handing down of the tribe's folklore. Any small mishap was the occasion for holding an elaborate appeasement rite, involving huge waste and hardship to the Nu people. In addition, Lamaism and Christianity had made some headway among the Nus before liberation.

The Nus practice an extempore type of singing accompanied on the lute, flute, mouth organ or reed pipe. Their dances are bold and energetic -- mainly imitations of animal movements.

【1】 【2】 【3】 【4】

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