Yao Nationality

Yao Minority in Guizhou
Yao Minority in Guizhou
With a population of 2,637,421 in the year 2000, the Yao ethnic minority is a typical nationality living in the mountainous regions of the southern part of China. Their main habitats are Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou, and Jiangxi together with Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture. They are divided into several branches, such as Baiku Yao (people who wear white trousers), Hong Yao (people who favor red clothes), and so on.

Similar to the other 54 ethnic groups of China, they have their unique religious and cultural characteristics.

Their language belongs to the Miao-Yao sub-group of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Most people speak the Yao language, some speak a language similar to the Miao language, and a few even use the Zhuang and Dong languages. Their language differs so much between regions that people from different areas have difficulty communicating with each other. They can also speak Han and Zhuang languages. As to the written characters, Nv Shu (a special written language in South China used only by women), are used. Han characters are widely used among Yao people, but written words were created by Central University for Nationalities in 1982. Thus, the written words are also used universally now.

People living in different regions have differing beliefs. Some of them worship nature, some idolize their ancestors, and some adore the totem. Taoism (one of the accepted Chinese religions) also plays an important role in their lives, which includes the following of sacrificial ceremonies. Some people believe in wizardry.


Long Hair Yao Minority in Guangxi
Long Hair Yao Minority in Guangxi
The staple food is rice, corn and potatoes. Most of the meat in their diet comes from their own domestic livestock and from wild animals that the men hunt. Teas and homemade wines are their favorite drinks. As they are very hospitable and polite, they entertain guests with their palatable food and refined wines and insist that seniors be seated in the seat of honor.

They are master at handicrafts. These crafts not only come in many variations, but also have special meanings. The ones they are most proud of are batik, sculpture, painting, and printing and dying.

Clothes differ according to the regions where they live. However, their clothes are mainly made of blue cloth with various pictorial designs on the fabric. Men wear short shirts without collars, and trousers or pants with the lower part wrapped. Women wear trousers, short skirts or pleated skirts decorated with unique embroidery. Also their special hair adornments are dazzling and attractive.


Long Hair Yao Minority in Guangxi
Long Hair Yao Minority in Guangxi
They hold many festivals, with at least one a month. Among the grand festivals, Panwang festival and Danu festival are the ones most worth mentioning. The former is held either every year, or every three to five years to express their reverence for their earliest known ancestor, Panwang. During this festival, everyone dresses themselves in their finest clothing and festively sings and dances to heart's content. Danu festival is held especially for the Yao people living in Guangxi Province to commemorate their grandmothers. The Zhuang people nearby also celebrate this festival by brewing fragrant wines and sing the melodious songs along with playing a timbal beating game.

Other culture and arts are also worth appreciating, such as the ballads and legends with rich content and multiple styles that depict the nation's history, glorify the hard revolutions, or express their sweet love, with their distinctive music and songs as tambourine dance and timbal dance.

All in all, the moralities of diligence, faithfulness, hospitality, and braveness have been handed down from generation to generation , and have become their representative characteristics.

 More Ethnic Groups in Hunan, Yunnan and Guizhou Area:
Miao     Tujia     Yi     Bai     Hani     Bouyei     Zhuang     Dong

- Last updated on Feb. 06, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Yao Nationality
Asked by Ms.Pallant from UNITED KINGDOM | Dec. 19, 2010 23:54Reply
I was hoping to host a young yao student for Christmas but I am afraid that the weather will defeat us. What could I give to her as a present that would have special meaning for her please?
Answers (2)
Answered by Mr.Walter | Dec. 21, 2010 01:45

Chrismas is a western festival actually, yao minorities don't celebrate it usually, so you may just send her a persent according to the western tradition such as chocolates, a plush toy, a scarf or gloves. You may also pay attention to what she lacks of recently, and buy for her.
Answered by Yekci | Feb. 06, 2021 07:27

Get her anything, Go all out, Get here a painting, a toy, or anything she's into, if she doesn't have many clothes then get her some clothes.
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