The Hani ethnic minority

The Hani ethnic minority

    Most of the 1,254,800 Hanis live in the Honghe Hani-Yi Autonomous Prefecture. Others dwell in Mojiang, Jiangcheng, Pu'er, Lancang and Zhenyuan counties in Simao Prefecture; in Xishuangbanna's Menghai, Jinghong and Mengla counties; in Yuanjiang and Xinping, Yuxi Prefecture, and (a small number) in Eshan, Jianshui, Jingdong and Jinggu counties.

Customs and Culture

    Their language belongs to the Yi branch of the Tibetan-Myanmese language group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family. Having no script of their own before 1949, they kept records by carving notches on sticks. In 1957 the people's government helped them to create a script based on the Roman alphabet.
 

    Being subtropical, the land is fertile and the rainfall plentiful -- ideal for growing rice, millet, cotton, peanuts, indigo and tea. Xishuangbanna's Nanru Hills are one of the country's major producers of the famous Pu'er tea.

    The Hanis in Mojiang and Biyue have a very interesting custom for settling an engagement. The parents of both the girl and boy involved should walk some distance together, and so long as they meet no animals the engagement can go ahead.

    The brides usually return to live with their parents only two or three days after the wedding ceremony and join their husbands again at rice-transplanting time. But this is not practised in the Honghe area.
A son's name begins with the last one or two words of his father's name in order to keep the family line going.

    The Hanis prefer clothing made of home-spun dark blue cloth. Men wear front-buttoned jackets and trousers, and black or white cloth turbans. Women have collarless, front-buttoned blouses with the cuffs and trouser legs laced. Hanis in Xishuangbanna wear jackets buttoned on the right side and decorated with silver ornaments. They wear black turbans. Women there, as well as in the Lancang area, wear skirts, round caps, and strings of silver ornaments. Both men and women wear leggings. In Mojiang, Yuanjiang and Jiangcheng, some women wear long, pleated or narrow skirts, while others have knee-length trousers with embroidered girdles. Women in general like to wear earrings, silver rings and necklaces. Married and unmarried women wear different hairstyles.

    The Hanis build their two- and three-story houses of bamboo, mud, stone and wood on hill slopes.In places like Honghe, Yuanyang and Luchun, houses have mud walls and thatched roofs, supported by wooden pillars placed on stone foundations, while in Xishuangbanna, houses are built of bamboo.

    They are polytheists and ancestor worshippers. Rituals are regularly held to worship the Gods of Heaven, Earth, the Dragon Tree and their village, as well as their family patron gods,such as Belie.
There are days devoted to animals, such as Sheep Day, on which sacrifices are made.

    The Hani people celebrate their New Year in October, as their lunar calendar begins in that month. They also celebrate the June Festival, which falls on the 24th of that month. This is a happy occasion especially for the young people. They sing, dance, play on swings and hold wrestling contests. At night, people in some places light pine torches while beating drums and gongs to expel evil spirits and disease. Like their Han neighbors, the Hanis who live in the Honghe area celebrate the Spring, Dragon Boat and Moon festivals.
Legends, fairy tales, poetry, stories, fables, ballads, proverbs, mythology and riddles form their oral literature. Genesis is a legend describing the origin of all things on earth.