The Yao nationality 瑶族 – 56 Nationalities in China


Chinese Name: 瑶族

English Name: The Yao nationality

Languages: Yao language 瑶语, Chinese 汉语

Total population: 2.80*106 (China mainland 2022)

Distribution: Mainly distributed in Guangxi province

The Yao nationality 瑶族
The Yao nationality 瑶族

Brief introduction

The Yao nationality 瑶族, one of the oldest ethnic groups in China, is the most widely distributed ethnic group in South China. Yao people are one of the longest-lived ethnic groups in China, Most of which live in Guangxi Province, China.

The Yao nationality 瑶族

The history of the Yao nationality

Legend has it that the ancestors of the Yao people were one of the ancient “Jiuli”(A Tribal Alliance in Ancient China) in the east, and then migrated to Hubei and Hunan. In the Yuan Dynasty 元朝, due to the pressure of war, the Yao people had to move southward in large numbers, and continue to penetrate into the hinterland of Guangdong and Guangxi. In the Ming Dynasty 明朝, Guangdong and Guangxi became the main distribution area of the Yao people.

The religion of the Yao nationality

The belief of the Yao people belongs to the worship of polytheism. In the past, the Yao people believed that all things have spirits, worshipped nature devoutly, and offered incense every New Year. Since the Song 宋 and Yuan Dynasties, Taoism 道教 and Buddhism have been introduced into the Yao nationality area one after another. Among them, Taoism was widely spread during the Qing Dynasty 清朝.

The Cultures of the Yao nationality

The costumes of the Yao nationality 瑶族服饰

Yao women like to wear a trapezoidal bamboo hat made of snow-white tender bamboo shells, inserted with five silver hairpins around the hat and a silver chain is wrapped around each side. Women’s clothing will vary from region to region. For example, the colour of Yao women’s clothing in Guangxi prefers red rather than blue which is instead the colour that most branches of the Yao ethnic group favourite.

The costumes of the Yao nationality 瑶族服饰
The costumes of the Yao nationality 瑶族服饰

In modern times, Yao people’s clothing styles are still very colourful. Men’s tops have two fronts and left fronts, and are generally belted. The length of the trousers varies, some are as long as the feet, some are as short as the knees, and most of them are blue or black.

The diet of the Yao nationality 瑶族饮食

The Yao people take corn and rice as their staple food. Part of the Yao ethnic group in northern Guangxi is popular with “Oil tea”. “Oil tea”, namely, fry the brewed tea leaves in oil to make a thick soup, add salt to taste, and then use it to brew fried rice krispies and fried soybeans. It has a special flavour, and some use it instead of lunch. Most Yao people have the habit of not eating dog meat. Even if they cook, they must do it outside the house.

Oil tea 油茶
Oil tea 油茶

The architecture of the Yao nationality 瑶族建筑

The Yao people are mountain dwellers. Most of their villages are located in the dense forests in the mountains at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. Before the founding of New China, most of the Yao people in remote mountainous areas lived in bamboo huts, wooden huts and thatched huts. However, this phenomenon has been greatly changed because of Chinese economic reforms 改革开放. The old houses of the Yao people are gradually being replaced by modern buildings with reinforced concrete structures

The long drum dance of the Yao nationality 瑶族长鼓舞

Yao dances are mostly related to religious sacrifices, the most famous of which is the long drum dance which is a dance performed to celebrate festivals. The long drum dance is a mass dance, suitable for all ages, no matter of gender and age. The long drum dance can be performed regardless of the location, as long as there is space, and the movements are simple and easy to learn, which is the cause of easily accepted by the public.

long drum dance 长鼓舞
long drum dance 长鼓舞

The textile technology of the Yao nationality 瑶族的纺织技术

As early as the Han Dynasty 汉朝, there were records of the ancestors of the Yao nationality spinning. By the Song Dynasty 宋朝, the Yao people had already dyed the white cloth with indigo and yellow wax to dye exquisite and meticulous patterns. Since the reform and opening up 改革开放, some local governments have allocated special funds to better preserve traditional ethnic culture and develop ethnic tourism, allowing young people to learn conventional handicraft techniques including traditional weaving, dyeing and embroidery from the elderly.

The Yao medicine 瑶医

Due to the Yao people living in deep mountains and dense forests, the changeable climate and the pervasive miasma induced people to fight against beasts, poisonous insects and various plagues which promote unique Yao medicine have emerged. Take magic medicated bath as an example, it is known to expel fatigue, prevent colds, treat skin diseases, boils and tumours, rheumatism, joint inflammation, gynaecological diseases, etc.

medicated bath 药浴
medicated bath 药浴

The Yao nationality (瑶族)

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