Zhuang customs and culture

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The Zhuang have a rich variety of customs and culture.



"Sam Nyied Sam" celebrations: Zhuang pole dance Zhuang dance.jpg
"Sam Nyied Sam" celebrations: Zhuang pole dance

"Sam Nyied Sam" the 3rd day of the 3rd month of the Chinese lunar calendar is one of the main festivals of the Zhuang celebrated by singing, dancing, games, and special food. At this time traditionally young men and women sing antiphonal songs to each other.


The Zhuang peoples of Yunnan and Guangxi have a rich tradition of written and unwritten stories. [1] Zhuang folk stories often take the form of songs. There are various folk tales, myths, legends, and historical poems and chants. For over one thousand years they have used Sawndip to write a wide variety of literature, including folk songs, operas, poems, scriptures, letters, contracts, and court documents. [2]

Zhuang bronze drum Bronze drum with frogs.jpg
Zhuang bronze drum
Zhuang stilt houses Zhuangzu shanzhan.jpg
Zhuang stilt houses

There are many stories that are a thousand years old, or older. One, a fairy tale which has attracted much attention in recent years, is "The orphan girl and the rich girl." It is an early version of the story Cinderella (Zhuang "Dahgyax Dahbengz" Dah - indicates female, gyax means orphan and bengz means rich). It is found in Zhuang opera scripts. A 9th century Chinese translation of a Zhuang story entitled Ye Xian was written in the Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang [3] and the Sawndip versions we now have are quite similar. Analysis suggests these versions took shape no later than the 10th century. [4] "The house-raising song" has been sung for over a thousand years. [5] This song has two parts. The first part describes the construction of a traditional stilt house, and the second part describes customs to ward off evil from the new home. [6] "The Origin of the Bronze Drum" tells of the origins of bronze drums that are like "stars" (such drums have a star in the middle of them), that they are as many as the stars of the sky and like stars can ward off evil spirits. [7]

The Zhuang have their own scriptures written in poetical form such as the Baeu Rodo about the creation of the world. [8] [9]

As well as idengenous stories many stories from other peoples such as the Han Chinese have become part of the Zhuang literary tradition. Whilst the original Chinese opera of "The Legend of Wenlong" has been lost, the story has been preserved in Zhuang texts. [10]

Folk arts

Zhuang folk arts include music and dance: [1]



There are many types of Zhuang dance.


Traditional Zhuang folk handicrafts includes the following. [1]


Most Zhuang follow traditional animist practices known as Mo or Shigong which include elements of ancestor worship. [11] The Mo have their own sutra and professional priests known as Bu Mo who traditionally use chicken bones for divination. In Mo, the creator is known as Bu Luotuo and the universe is tripartite, with all things composed from the three elements of heaven, earth, and water.

There are also a number of Buddhists, Taoists, and Christians among the Zhuang. [12]


The Zhuang languages are a group of mutually unintelligible languages of the Tai family, heavily influenced by nearby dialects of Chinese. [13] The Standard Zhuang language is based on a northern dialect but few people learn it, therefore Zhuang people from different dialect areas use one of a number of Chinese varieties to communicate with each other. [14] According to a 1980s survey, 42% of Zhuang people are monolingual in Zhuang, while 55% are bilingual in Zhuang and Chinese. Whilst according to some semi-official sources "In Guangxi, compulsory education is bilingual in Zhuang and Chinese, with a focus on early Zhuang literacy. [13] " in fact only small percentage of schools teach written Zhuang. Zhuang is traditionally written using logograms based on Chinese characters ("Sawndip"), and Standard Zhuang, which was written in Latin script, with a few added Cyrillic letters for tone, between 1957 and 1982, and is now officially written using only Latin letters, even though Sawndip are still more often used in less formal domains. [15] Its Wikipedia is za.wikipedia.org.

Traditional medicine

Assorted Zhuang snacks, incl. colored sticky rice and Zhuang style zongzi. Zhuang cuisine.jpg
Assorted Zhuang snacks, incl. colored sticky rice and Zhuang style zongzi.

Zhuang folk medicine has a history of over one thousand years. In Sawndip texts thousands of Zhuang medical terms have been identified and some terms have entered into Chinese medical dictionaries, and in Southern China some hospitals have Zhuang Medicine departments. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

Zhuang people Ethnic group native to southern China

The Zhuang people are a Kra–Dai speaking ethnic group who mostly live in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. Some also live in the Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan provinces. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. With the Buyi, Tay–Nùng, and other northern Tai speakers, they are sometimes known as the Rau or Rao. Their population, estimated at 18 million people, makes them the largest minority in China.

Zhuang languages any of various Tai languages used by the Zhuang people

The Zhuang languages are any of more than a dozen Tai languages spoken by the Zhuang people of Southern China in the province of Guangxi and adjacent parts of Yunnan and Guangdong. The Zhuang languages do not form a monophyletic linguistic unit, as northern and southern Zhuang languages are more closely related to other Tai languages than to each other. Northern Zhuang languages form a dialect continuum with Northern Tai varieties across the provincial border in Guizhou, which are designated as Bouyei, whereas Southern Zhuang languages form another dialect continuum with Central Tai varieties such as Nung, Tay and Caolan in Vietnam. Standard Zhuang is based on the Northern Zhuang dialect of Wuming.

Wenshan may refer to:

Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture Autonomous prefecture in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in southeastern Yunnan province, People's Republic of China, and the easternmost prefecture-level division of the province. It borders Baise, Guangxi to the east, Vietnam's Hà Giang Province to the south for 438 kilometres (272 mi), Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture to the west, and Qujing to the north.

Zhuang studies is an interdisciplinary intellectual field concerned with the Zhuang people – their history, anthropology, religion, politics, languages, and literature. The majority of such research is being carried out in the People's Republic of China. Huang Xianfan (黄现璠) is considered by many to be the father of Zhuang studies.

Funing County, Yunnan County in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Funing County is located in Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, in the east of Yunnan province, China. It is the easternmost county-level division of Yunnan, bordering Guangxi to the north, east and southeast, and Vietnam's Hà Giang Province to the south.

Qiubei County County in Yunnan, Peoples Republic of China

Qiubei County is under the administration of the Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, in southeast Yunnan province, China.

The Kra languages are a branch of the Kra–Dai language family spoken in southern China and in northern Vietnam.

The General History of the Zhuang Nationality is a history book by Huang Xianfan and his students Huang Zengqing and Zhang Yimin on Zhuang history. Published in 1988 after the first draft was completed in 1981, it covers the history, culture and language of the Zhuang ethnic group, one of China's 56 ethnic groups. This book covers a period from the presumed date of the emergence of the Zhuang ethnic group to the modern era, including prehistory and antiquity.

Dai Zhuang language language

Dai Zhuang is a Tai language spoken in Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan, China, in Yanshan, Wenshan, Maguan, Malipo, Guangnan counties. It is also spoken in Honghe Prefecture and Vietnam. The largest concentrations are in Wenshan and Yanshan counties.

Nong Zhuang language language

Nong Zhuang is a Tai language spoken in Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan, China. In Wenshan Prefecture, it is spoken in Yanshan, Guangnan, Wenshan, Maguan, Funing, Xichou, and Malipo counties, and also in Honghe Prefecture and Vietnam. The heaviest concentrations relative to other Zhuang groups are in Xichou and Malipo counties.

Paha or Baha is a Kra language spoken in northern Guangnan County, Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan. The two villages are located near the border with Longlin County, Guangxi. Paha is often considered to be part of the Buyang dialect cluster and is the most divergent form. Although listed in Ethnologue as Baha Buyang, Thai linguist Weera Ostapirat considers Paha to be a separate language.

Northern Tai languages

The Northern Tai languages are an established branch of the Tai languages of Southeast Asia. They include the northern Zhuang languages and Bouyei of China, Tai Mène of Laos and Yoy of Thailand.

Standard Zhuang Standard variety and register of the Zhuang Tai (Kra-Dai) language cluster

Standard Zhuang is the official standardized form of the Zhuang languages, which are a branch of the Northern Tai languages. Its pronunciation is based on that of the Yongbei Zhuang dialect of Shuangqiao, Guangxi in Wuming District, Guangxi with some influence from Fuliang, also in Wuming District, while its vocabulary is based mainly on northern dialects. The official standard covers both spoken and written Zhuang. It is the national standard of the Zhuang languages, though in Yunnan a local standard is used.


Sawgoek or sawva was a mythological ancient script mentioned in the Zhuang creation epic Baeu Rodo. The primordial god Baeu Ro was said to have brought sawgoek containing four thousand glyphs along with fire to the Zhuang people, however the people in their unfamiliarity with fire, stored the fire under a thatched roof, causing the house to catch on fire. The sawgoek was consumed in the ensuing conflagration, and knowledge of writing was lost. Some Zhuang scholars believe that this myth stems from a vague remembrance of sawgoek in the collective consciousness of the Zhuang people long after knowledge of the writing system had been forgotten.

Mo (religion) The religion of most Zhuang people

Mo or Moism, occasionally called Zhuang Shigongism, is the religion of most Zhuang people, the largest ethnic minority of China. It has a large presence in Guangxi. While it has a supreme god, the creator Bu Luotuo (布洛陀), numerous other deities are venerated as well. It has a three-element-theory. Mo is animistic, teaching that spirits are present in everything.

"The Legend of Wenlong" is an ancient folk story of Han Chinese origin, that was early on adopted by several people groups in Southern China including the Zhuang. It is also known by the name of the associated Chinese opera Liu Wenlong and the Water-chestnut Mirror. It is now a traditional song of the Zhuang people that is sung at the Dragon Boat Festival in some places.

For over one thousand years the Zhuang have used Sawndip to write a wide variety of literature, including folk songs, operas, poems, scriptures, letters, contracts, and court documents. The works include both entirely indigenous works and translations from Chinese, fact and fiction, religious and secular and give us insight in to the life of the Zhuang and the people they have had contact with over a period of two millennia, a writing tradition that is still alive to this day.

This article lists the various Zhuang customs and culture of Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China.

Sawndip Ideographic writing system of the Zhuang language

Zhuang characters or Sawndip, are logograms derived from Chinese characters and used by the Zhuang people of Guangxi and Yunnan, China to write the Zhuang languages for more than one thousand years. The script is not only used by the Zhuang but also by the closely related Bouyei in Guizhou, China and Tay in Vietnam and Nùng, in Yunnan, China and Vietnam. Sawndip is a Zhuang word that means "immature characters". The Zhuang word for Chinese characters used in the Chinese language is sawgun ; gun is the Zhuang term for the Han Chinese. Even now, in traditional and less formal domains, Sawndip is more often used than alphabetical scripts.


  1. 1 2 3 Johnson & Wang 2008
  2. 壮文论集 Anthology of Written Zhuang by 梁庭望 Liang Tingwang 2007 Published by 中央民族大学出版社 Central Minorities University Press pages 153-158 ISBN   9787811084368
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  14. Muysken, Pieter (2008). From Linguistic Areas to Areal Linguistics. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 226, 247.
  15. 《广西壮族人文字使用现状及文字社会声望调查研究》 "Research into survey of the scripts used by Zhuang in Guangxi" 唐未平 Tang Weiping http://www.doc88.com/p-644582398739.html
  16. 《壮文论集》 梁庭望 pages 220,221 中央民族大学出版社 2007 ISBN   9787811084368