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Zhuang People Introduction


 
Population

Among the 55 ethnic groups in China, Zhuang Nationality boasts the largest population. By 2010, there are 16,926,381 Zhuang people, which take up 1.2700% of the whole Chinese population. They are mainly found in Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong and Guizhou province. Zhuang people reside in south China Karst areas, such as Guilin and live on rice cultivation and fishing.

Distribution
 
 
Guangxi        Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Yunnan        Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
          Long Qing Yi and Zhuang Autonomous Township
          Gao Liang Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Township
          Qiaotou Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Township
          Duofale Zhuang Automonous Township (Mengzi County, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture)
Hunan
         Qingtang Zhuang Autonomous Township(Jianghua Yao Autonomous County, Yongzhou City)
Guizhou
       Xiutang Zhuang Autonomous Township; Gangbian Zhuang Autonomous Township;Cuili Yao and Zhuang  Autonomous Township ( Congjiang County)
Guangdong
        Lianshan Zhuang and Yao Autonomous County
 
          Xiashuai Zhuang and Yao Autonomous Township (Huaiji County, Zhaoqing city)
 
 


Language, Script and Religion

Zhuang language belongs to Zhuang-Dai branch of Zhuang-Dong Austronesian. It splits into two dialects. The year 1957 saw Zhuang people have their own script, which is based on the Latin alphabet. Zhuang people are polytheists, they believe in Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism and Catholicism. Besides, witchcraft, ancestral worship and nature worship also penetrate into every aspect of their life. Hence, do not feel startled to see a Zhuang people show respect to dogs, dragon, thunder, water, fire, rice, buffalo and even earth.
 
 
zhuang nationality
Zhuang Nationality


Architecture

Traditional Zhuang architecture is wooden and mud stilt house(Gan Lan干拦建筑,吊脚楼), which prevails among Miao, Dong, Yao, Zhuang and Han. Generally speaking, Zhuang people’s stilt houses nestle up against hills and face rivers and rice paddies. Setting off by luxuriant forests and crystal-clear streams, they breathe full of primitive beauty and emit a laidback air. Clustered in groups, Zhuang villages look quite imposing.

Zhuang architecture has many variants. In Congjiang County and Liping, Guizhou, they show strong Dong architecture influence. While in plain areas or towns, Zhuang architectures are sinicized. White washed walls, wood-brick structure and upturned eaves with delicate patterns, the defining elements of traditional Han architecture, are melded with traditional Zhuang style. Langzi Ancient Village is a fine example. To see the best preserved traditional Zhuang architecture, you have to drop by Longsheng Rice Terraces.

Approaching Ping’an Zhuang Village, Jinzhu Zhuang Village or Longji Ancient Zhuang Village in Longsheng, you can gain an insight into their folk residences.
The first floor is occupied by livestock or used as mills or storage rooms, the upper floors are divided into living rooms, front halls, rear halls and balconies. Dashing out abruptly, balconies are places to enjoy sunshine, greet guests or do the needlework. The front halls are used to entertain guest or host celebrations, while side rooms and rear halls function as the living quarters. Zhuang architecture is anchored by a shine, the spiritual center, where offerings are presented to worship gods and ancestors. Fire pit is the place the whole family will gather together, eating and chatting. In Longsheng, Zhuang women enjoy high social status, because the housewife’s bedroom is the centerpiece. One peculiar phenomenon here is the co-existence of extremely conservatism and open-mindedness: husbands and wives do not share the same bedrooms in night, while single girls enjoy the ultimate freedom to date their sweethearts. Their bedrooms sit near the staircases, so their lovers can come to say “hi” conveniently.
 
 
Icons of Zhuang People
 
 
bama villagelangzi ancient village
Bamei (Village beyond the Cave)
Langzi Ancient Village
jinzhu zhuang villagepingan zhuang village
Jinzhu Zhuang VillagePing'an Zhuang Village
puzhehei 
Puzhehei 


Zhuang Attires

Blue, black and brown are the defining colors of Zhuang attires. Traditional Zhuang men attires are Tangzhuang tops and loose knee-length pants, while typical Zhuang women’s attires consist of diversified tops, broad hem trousers and assorted accessories including aprons, silver ornaments and embroidered shoes. Zhuang women are good at embroidery, brocade and batik, which are widely applied in their attires. Blue and black are dominant colors. Made of homemade fabrics, they can last for a lifetime. From weaving to batik dying, from sewing to do the embroidery, the whole process involves intricate procedures and zero use of chemical components; hence, Zhuang clothes are eco-friendly and good for health.


Zhuang Nationality Painting

To see how talented Zhuang people are when it comes to painting, you can see Zhuang brocade, bronze drums and most importantly, Huashan Fresco(花山岩画).
 
huashan fresco zhuang nationality
 


Zhuang Medicine

Just as Yao people are talented medicinal Spa experts, Zhuang people are gifted doctors when it comes to combat various poisons. Living in the subtropical area where snakes and insects abound, they have accumulated numerous methods to tackle snake bite, insect bite, food poison, arrow poison and even witchcraft poison. One of the greatest attributions of Zhuang medicine is the medicine for snake bite. A blessing for those unfortunate souls.

Festivals

Besides traditional Chinese festival including Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid Autumn Festival, Double Ninth Festival, Zhuang people also stage their own festivals such as Zhuang New Year, Sanyuesan (March Third Festival or Gexu Festival), Si Yue Ba(April the Eighth), Liu Yue Liu (June the Sixth), Qi Yue Qi(July the Seventh), Luotuo Festival, Yabai Festival, Chili Festival and Longduan Festival. Among which, Sanyuesan and Zhuang New Year are two prominent ones.
 
gexu festival zhuang nationalitygexu festival zhuang nationality
  
gexu festival zhuang nationalitygexu festival zhuang nationality
  


Bronze Drum Culture

Emerged over 2700 years ago, bronze drums prevailed among Zhuang, Miao and Dong people. Over 2000 years ago, Zhuang people have started to cast and use bronze drums. Used as music instruments, they also symbolize power and wealth. Wenshan Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture, Yuannan is renowned for the biggest collection of bronze drums. With complete types, ancient history and peerless know-how, they draw international attention.
 
Decorated with relief motifs or plain patterns, secular or mythical characters, each piece of bronze drum is a priceless artwork.Bronze Drum has penetrated into Zhuang people’s daily life and has become a culture symbol. Singing, dancing, drinking and rituality associated with Bronze Drum are both eye-opening and bewildering. In Nahong Village, Wenshan, Yunnan,  the millenniu-old tradition of drinking Bronze Drum Wine still thrives. Guangxi Museum of Nationalities which boasts over 2000 bronze drums and a rich collection of artifacts of 12 tribes native to Guangxi, worthy of a stopover.
 
 
zhuang nationality bronze drumzhuang nationality bronze drum
  
zhuang nationality bronze drumzhuang nationality bronze drum
  


Zhuang Martial Art

Zhuang people worship martial art since ancient time. The weapons and set of movements of Zhuang Martial Art are depicted by the over 2000-year-old Huashan Fresco in Ningming County, which is 160km from Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi. When turns 14-year-old, a Zhuang boy will pick up martial art under a tutor. By now, 35 set of movements remain intact today (such as Tiger Punching Boxing) and 14 weapons are used. Zhuang Martial Art bears great similarity to Thai Boxing(Muay Thai) in many ways.

Interesting Customs


Knocking-out Teeth
: this custom is more ancient than Confucius era. In ancient times, Zhuang people knocked out their teeth to declare enter into adulthood and ready for sex. In cotemporary era, Zhuang people are happy to plant several golden teeth into their mouths, so when they smile, beware do not get blinded.

Tattoo: the earliest record of Zhuang people wearing tattoo dates back to Song Dynasty (960-1279), but according to legend, this tradition is far more ancient. To avoid falling prey to crocodiles, Zhuang fishermen invented eye-dazzling crocodile tattoos and applied them all over the body. It really works. The other function of tattoos is to differentiate one tribe from the other. With the disintegration of tribe society, tattoos’ aesthetic value surfaced and was give more importance gradually. Zhuang people were armed with tattoos from head to toe; tattoos on the foreheads are the most important, while those between thighs and the abdomen are the least significant. Popular patterns including crocodiles, tigers, snakes, moths, butterflies, birds, dragonflies, flowers and grasses. Black or grayish black dominate the palette.


 

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