Chinese Name: 水族
English Name: The Sui people, The Shui nationality
Languages: Sui language 水语, Chinese 汉语
Total population: 4.12*105 (China mainland 2022)
Distribution: Most distributed in Sandu Shui Autonomous County
The Sui people 水族 is one of the ethnic minorities in China. The Sui ethnic group has its own language and traditional writing, and its ethnic language family belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family 汉藏语系. The ancient writing system of Sui retains the characteristics of compatibility of pictorial writing, pictographic writing and abstract writing.
The history of the Sui people
According to literature records, after the Shang Dynasty 商朝, the ancestors of the Sui migrated from the Central Plains to the south and gradually integrated into the Baiyue 百越. Over time, they gradually developed into a single ethnic group. Therefore, the Sui society retains the rich cultural relics of the Shang cultural circle and the Baiyue ethnic group.
The religion of the Sui people
The belief culture of the Sui people belongs to the category of primitive religious beliefs. People of Sui believe that all things have animism and worship many gods including nature worship, ancestral spirit worship, and deity worship. In the Sui society, whether it is the worship object or form of primitive religious belief, or the content of primitive morality, its form and inheritance method, clearly reflects the characteristics of the hybrid between belief culture and folk knowledge.
The Cultures of the Sui people
Sui clothing 水族服饰
In terms of clothing colour selection, they prefer blue, white, cyan and three cool colours to warm colours, especially red and yellow. They do not like brightly coloured clothing but prefer light and elegant colours, which expresses the unique aesthetics of Sui clothing, that is, simplicity, generosity and practicality.
Most of the women’s clothing in the Sui group is a collarless half-length gown or a gown, generally without lace embroidery. Festivals and wedding dresses are quite different from usual. Usually, the shoulders, cuffs, and knees of trousers are inlaid with embroidered flower belts, and there are also colourful patterns on the turban. Sui men wear blue shirts with big collars and no collars, small caps with melon rinds, and the elderly wear long gowns, with linings wrapped around their heads and feet wrapped in leggings.
Sui architecture 水族建筑
Most of the Sui villages are inhabited by the same blood clan. When they build a house, they usually choose auspicious things according to the birth date of the owner. The traditional house structure of the Sui belongs to the dry fence wooden house. This type of house is popular because it is moisture-proof, insect-proof, snake-proof, and theft-proof without taking up too much land space.
In order to receive blessings and welcome auspiciousness, from the selection of the house address, the preparation of wood materials, and the housewarming and making a fire, we generally follow the taboos of Shuishu 水书.
Sui script 水书
Sui script or Shuishu is the general term for the Chinese translation of the ancient writings of the Sui ethnic group and their compiled classics. Sui script is a masterpiece of Sui people’s folk knowledge, belief and culture, and is known as the “encyclopedia” of Sui people.
Sui script has a wide range of content, including astronomy and calendar, the primitive beliefs of the Sui people, and the philosophical thoughts, literature and art, language, production and life of the Sui people. Such a book is undoubtedly the essence of the traditional folk culture of the Sui nationality, an important carrier of national spirit, national cohesion, national affinity and national emotion, and an important spiritual link to maintain the various branches of the Sui people.
Sui etiquette 水族礼节
Speaking of Sui etiquette, they prefer wine and tobacco to tea. When they entertain guests at home, meat dishes are essential. In addition, important relatives and friends are usually served with chicken and duck, and extremely important guests are served with pork.
A special point is that after the aquarium sits at the table, they will first dip a drop of wine on the table with chopsticks, indicating that they will worship their ancestors and gods first, and then start to enjoy the food.
The Sui treats guests with wine as the most expensive, and drinking also has its own unique ritual. During the drinking process, all the drinkers raise their glasses together, hold their own glass with the right hand and stretch out to the drinker on the right, while the left hand takes the glass handed by the drinker on the left, so that a closed circle of mutual drinking is formed between the banquets. Usually, the elders, vegetables, or guests drink first, while the rest cheer three times to boost the atmosphere.