While China is predominantly populated by Han Chinese (90-93%) the country does have 55–56 officially recognized minority groups as well as a few very small unrecognized groups. Most of the Minorities have settled in southern China, namely Yunnan province, which alone has over 26 groups of ethnic Minorities making it the most ethnically diverse province in China.
As many of my passengers will attest to, I love the minority regions of China. I find their position in Chinese society lamentable (the only advantage is the exemption from the one-child policy), their culture and native dress fascinating, their food very interesting and for the most part tasty, and their settlements to be in some of the most beautiful places in China. As such Iâ€™ve made somewhat of an effort to seek them out throughout my travels in China. Below are some photos of these incredible people and the regions in which they live.
(Though I do have a particular interest in these Minorities, I am by no means an expert. I’ve tried my best to identify and classify the woman according to their ethnic group; however I’m not positive all my associations are correct. If you find an error, please leave a comment to that effect. Nonetheless, at minimum, I’ve listed where the photo was taken.)
|Xishuangbanna, a region in very southern Yunnan that’s more similar to Southeast Asia than China. These photos were taken during the Thursday morning market in Xiding, a “sleepy hillside hamlet” (LP China) about 4hours drive into the mountains away from Jinghong, capital of Xishuangbanna. The elevation made it much cooler and therefore seemingly less SE Asia-like than the rest of Banna.|
|Akha Minority women|
|Bulang women with Black turban-style headdresses|
with Light turban-style
|Dai Minority woman|
|Dali and Shaping, towns in central Yunnan that are home to the Bai ethnic minority. The Bai prospered because of the tea trade during the imperial era. They are known as the Bai because of their worship of the color white, “bai” in Mandarin. These photos were taken at the Monday market in Shaping, a 1-hour drive from Dali.|
preparing to calculate
the price by weight
|Lijiang, a town in central-northern Yunnan that is home to the Naxi (Nakhi) ethnic minority. The Naxi are very proud of their culture and are active in the community, giving an orchestral performance nightly and dancing in the square during the day.|
|The Naxi dancing in the square|
|Zhongdian, full name: Zhongdian Autonomous Prefecture, in northwest Yunnan, is a Tibetan grasslands town in the foothills of the Himalayas. While not part of the formal territory knowns as Tibet, as defined by the Chinese Communist Party, Zhongdian is in its essence, Tibetan. In addition to the native Tibetan minorities who survive on yak-herding, farming, and tourism, the Yi minority are also found in this region.|
in yak-herding village,
|Yi Minority woman|
|Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, Longji, are set in the hillsides outside of Guilin, Guangxi. They various villages are inhabited by Zhuang, Miao, Yao, and Dong ethnic minorities who cultivate rice on steep terraced hills. Featured villages are Dazai and Ping’an.|
|Yao Minority woman,
with the long black hair,
in front of the Rice Terraces,
|Zhuang Minority woman
performing a song, Ping’an
For the rest of the photos of these unique and intriguing minorities in their daily life, click here.