The Gelao people 仡佬族 – 56 Nationalities in China


Chinese Name: 仡佬族

English Name: The Gelao people

Languages: Gelao language 仡佬语, Chinese 汉语

Total population: 5.51*105(China mainland 2022)

Distribution: Wuchuan county and Daozhen county in northern Guizhou Province, etc.

The Gelao people 仡佬族
The Gelao people 仡佬族

Brief introduction

The Gelao people 仡佬族 are mainly distributed in the Daozhen Gelao and Miao Autonomous County 道真仡佬族苗族自治县 and Wuchuan Gelao and Miao Autonomous County 务川仡佬族苗族自治县. The national language of the Gelao nationality is the Gelao language. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, approved by the State Council, it was announced officially that the Gelao people were unified into the Gelao ethnic group in 1956.

The Gelao people

The history of the Gelao people

Academic groups agree that the origin of the Gelao people is related to the ancient Liao people ( A general term for ancient southern tribal groups, distributed in the vast areas south and southwest of the Yangtze River ). From the 3rd to the 5th century AD, the Liao people moved to Sichuan 四川 and incorporated into the household registration of the feudal country and paid taxes to the feudal dynasty. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, it was announced in 1956 that they were unified as the Gelao ethnic.

The religion of the Gelao people

The Gelao ethnic worship their ancestors and worship Bamboo King, Barbarian King Patriarch and Mountain God. The Gelao nationality has its own wizards who specialize in offering sacrifices, praying for longevity, warding off ghosts, and helping the dead get the peace. They have the concept of animism because their way of life is closely related to the mountains and forests. This also makes them usually choose the largest and thickest ancient trees in the mountains and forests near their residences as sacred trees to worship and worship.

The Cultures of the Gelao people

The architecture of the Gelao people 仡佬族建筑

The residence of the Gelao ethnic varies according to the terrain. Most of them live in the same clan, and each family of a clan builds houses adjacent to each other to form a village. The form of housing construction and building materials vary depending on the economic conditions, population, and geographical environment. In the past, the dwellings of the Gelao people were mostly thatched houses with civil and bamboo structures.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the social economy has gradually developed after land reform which helps rural housing has been gradually improved. After the 1980s, due to the improvement of people’s living standards, most of which built brick and stone buildings, and reinforced concrete multi-storey buildings gradually became popular in places with convenient transportation.

The costumes of the Gelao people 仡佬族服饰

Before the Qing Dynasty 清朝, clothing was mostly made of home-woven linen dyed blue and blue. Men wore collarless gowns and often wore belts. When working outside, the front and back corners of the clothing were tied around the waist. The Gelao women’s tops are only waist-length, and they wear long barrel skirts without pleats. The whole skirt is divided into three sections. The middle section is woven with wool and dyed red. The upper and lower sections are mostly woven with linen.

The costumes of the Gelao people 仡佬族服饰
The costumes of the Gelao people 仡佬族服饰

After the Republic of China, various ethnic groups had cultural exchanges, communicated with each other, and learned from each other’s strengths. The aesthetics gradually changed with the development of the society, and the clothing gradually conformed to the Han nationality 汉族. Nowadays, the national costumes of the Gelao nationality only appear in various festivals.

The diet of the Gelao people 仡佬族饮食

In the diet, the staple food is mainly corn and rice. The Gelao nationality regards glutinous rice cake as a precious food. When it comes to major and festive festivals, glutinous rice cakes are a must-have option for friends to walk around and give gifts, and this custom has been preserved up to now.

The drama of the Gelao people 仡佬族戏剧

There are two kinds of Gelao dramas: Nuo drama and local drama. Nuo opera is a ritual to exorcise ghosts, and it has been circulated among the people of Guizhou 贵州 without interruption. Nuo opera is accompanied by gongs, drums, horns, etc. The performers must wear masks. Since local operas originated in the military and the performance place is on the outdoor flat ground rather than set up a stage, which is called ground play. Most of the local operas are based on the war stories of the past dynasties, expressing the spirit of martial arts for self-entertainment.

Nuo drama 傩戏
Nuo drama 傩戏

The music of the Gelao people 仡佬族音乐

The Gelao nationality often expresses their feelings by singing in production and labour, on social occasions for young men and women, and during festivals and feasts with relatives and friends. The lyrics are mostly seven characters, and the content of the lyrics is mostly based on life. In addition, bronze drums, horns, flutes and gourds are all commonly used musical instruments in the history of the Gelao people.

The Gelao people (仡佬族)

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