Brief Introduction of Zhuang Ethnic Group
The most populous ethic minority
The Zhuang Nationality, the most populous ethic minority in China, has a population of over 15.4 million. They are mainly distributed in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous State in Yunnan, Lianshan Zhuang and Yao Autonomous County in Guangdong, and Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous State in Guizhou etc.
Zhuang people used to give themselves many names such as Buzhuang, Butu, Bunong, Buman, Buyue, Buyi, Budai, Buna, etc. In the historical documents written in Chinese after Song Dynasty, their name was recorded as Zhuang (), Zhuang () etc. After liberation, they were unitarily called Zhuang (). In 1965, according to Prime Mister Zhou Enlai’s proposal, approved by the State Council, Zhuang () was changed into Zhuang ( ) as a settled name.
The Zhuang Nationality has its own language and characters. Zhuang language belongs to Dai language branch of Zhuang Dong language tribe in the Chinese-Tibetan language family. The old Zhuang language characters, created through imitating Chinese are locally used within limited places, mainly imitating the word building way in Chinese, were used in limited places. They were mainly used to record place names or mountain songs. After the founding of New China, the Party and the Government helped them create a new Zhuang language based on Latin alphabets, which is in use now.
The Zhuang Nationality has a long history and its social development level is relatively high. Agriculture is developed and mining and metallurgy, family textile and other handicraft industries started at an early time. So far it has formed a complete modern industrial system.
In the aspect of folk custom, Zhuang women’s costume in Northwest and Southwest Guangxi and Yunnan largely remain the traditional features. They like collarless, embroidered and trimmed jackets buttoned to the left together with baggy trousers or pleated skirts. They fancy silver ornaments, all in blue or black. They like covering heads with handkerchiefs, and fancy silver ornaments. Rice and corn are their staple food, and the sour preserved food are especially favored. Their houses are storied buildings with banisters.
The culture and art of the Zhuang Nationality are rich and colorful: folk stories, Zhuang operas, music, dance, and especially the numerous folk songs. Almost every Zhuang people can sing well. Many places hold regular mountain song festivals, called songfest. Different places have different songfest dates, but the songfest on March 3rd in the lunar calendar is the most common and grandest one. Now March 3rd is fixed on as the song festival of the Zhuang Nationality.