The Jingpo ethnic minority (population about 132,000 according to the year 2000 census) lives mainly in the Dehong, Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefectures with some in the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, as well as in Myanmar. Their native language belongs to the Jingpo branch of the Tibetan-Burman group of the Sino-Tibetan language system. They do, however, also use the Chinese language.
They live in mountainous regions at altitudes of 1,500 - 2,000 meters (4,900 - 6,500 feet), where they enjoy the fruits of nature - with abundant resources including crops such as rice and corn, wood like rosewood and bamboo, fruit like pineapple and mango, wildlife like bear and tiger, as well as minerals like iron and precious stones.
In the forests surrounding the Jingpo villages, there are also many medicinal herbs which doctors can use to treat patients. Thus, besides the traditional treatments of herbalist doctors such as massage and acupuncture, many herbal medicines are also prescribed.
They think everything has a soul that can never die, so, if a Jingpo meets with misfortune, they will turn to worship the spirits. However, some Jingpo people are Christian as a result of missionaries which came to these areas in the early 20th century.
Nearly all the people are natural artisans - they are skilled at painting, carving, weaving and embroidering. Themes of their paintings are related to their traditional religious beliefs, while fabric is embroidered with patterns of some of the more than 300 kinds of the flowers. Girls are especially skilled at embroidering handkerchiefs which they give to their lovers as delicate gifts.
The dress of Jingpo women features large silver sheets on the shoulder, with silver necklaces and a pair of thick silver bracelets. Men like to bind their head with a patterned chiffon cloth. When they go out, they will often take with them a knife, a gun, and a small bag with betel nuts or tobacco inside.
Traditional festivals are the Zongge Festival, the New Rice Festival, the Pumpkin Festival, and the Nengxian Festival. On those important days, Jingpo people will get together, where they sing, dance, hold shooting competitions as well as performing a 'knife dance' regarded as a symbol of Jingpo ethos.
Socially, they follow particular etiquettes and customs. If they want to express their feeling of absence, they will send a root to their friends or relatives. If this feeling is deep, they will include some sesame with the root. If a boy wants to marry a girl, he will give the girl two chestnut leaves facing each other; while if the girl wishes to refuse him, she will return the leaves, but facing back to back.
Jingpo people are quite warm. If they have guests in their home, they will kill a chicken and treat the guests to a great dinner.
There are also many taboos in their life, such as: women cannot move men's knives and guns, or it will bring bad luck; the living room of a host should not be visited by other people, and many others.
More Ethnic Groups in Yunnan Area:
Yi Hani Dai Zhuang Lahu Wa Naxi Yao Blang Primi