Wa Nationality

Residential House of Wa Minority
Residential House of Wa Nationality
The Wa ethnic minority lives primarily in the counties of Ximeng, Cangyuan and Menglian in Yunnan Provinces. According to the census of 2000, they have a population of 396,610.

 Language and Character:
Their language belongs to the Mon-Khmer group of the Austro-Asiatic phylum, and can be divided into three dialects. The Chinese government helped the Wa to create a written formal language in 1957, since there were no characters that were widely used.

Years ago, they believed in the power of natural things and thought all things have their spirits, including for example water, mountain, and wood. The mightiest god was called 'Muyiji', and his five sons were the ancestors of the Wa. In recent years, some of the Wa have become followers of Buddhism and Christianity.

They  live mainly on agriculture. The staple of their diet is rice, and they like to chew betel nuts and drink wine. The food is prepared with spicy flavors. They regard wine as a necessity when they host guests or their elders. During festivals, young men will toast girls with a special wine that is held in a bamboo tube, and girls will drink it through a straw.

There are several taboos that guests should be aware of so that when they visit a Wa family, they will not offend their hosts. For example, the guests should not ride into a Wa village on a horse; they should not touch other's head or ear; and Wa girls will not accept a guests' gift if it is an adornment.

They favor the colors red and black, so their clothes are usually black with red decorations. Men's coat and trousers are short and broad, and they all like bare feet. Besides, they like to take knife and bamboo necklace. Women's clothes are more beautiful. They wear necklaces and bracelets, most of which are made of bamboo or silver. Their ear rings are very distinctive for the complex style incorporating shining silver rings with bird bones and shells. As the Wa women love very long hair, they incorporate their hair into their dances which highlights their charm.

 Other Customs:
Every time there is great event or festival, the Wa people will hold the Piaoniu ceremony, In this ceremony, they kill an ox, divide its meat amongst all the families for sacrifice to their ancestors. The ox bone is given to the host of the ceremony and symbolizes wealth. This ceremony is symbolic of their wish for peace and great harvest.

 More Ethnic Groups in Yunnan Area:
Yi     Bai     Hani     Dai     Miao     Naxi     Yao     Jingpo     Deang     Dulong
- Last updated on Jul. 23, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Wa Nationality
Asked by Gosia from POLAND | Dec. 12, 2017 06:46Reply
Yunnan South - what festivals in March?
We will be travelling South Yunnan in March 2018. Can you tell me please what festivals, when and where exactly take place in March 2018?
Answers (1)
Answered by Allison from NEW ZEALAND | Dec. 12, 2017 21:41

Axi Ethnic Fire-worship Festival
Date: lunar 3 February (March 19)
Place: Hongwan Village, Mi'le County, Honghe Prefecture

Dai and Zhuang Ethnic Men's Day
Date: lunar 29-30 January (March 16 to 17)
Place: Zhemi Township, Jinping County, Honghe Prefecture
Asked by Carol from USA | Feb. 02, 2015 11:40Reply
Do the Wa people like & welcome western visitors, or just tolerate them for financial gain?
Answers (1)
Answered by Sally from CANADA | Feb. 03, 2015 19:14

Well, as I know, Wa people are very kind and warm-hearted by nature. Of course the premise is that you are friendly to them also.
Asked by cori | Feb. 18, 2014 11:43Reply
What were the Wa people's courtship patterns like?
Answers (1)
Answered by Dick from USA | Feb. 19, 2014 02:50

Like other minorities, Wa people gather together and sing love songs. If they find "the one", they send betel nuts and tobacco to each other as a token of love. However, their parents have the final say if their kids plan to get married. The boy should give several oxen as bride price.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)