Chinese Nation – Dulong

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The Dulong is one of the ethnic minorities with a small population in China, and it is also the ethnic group with the least population in Yunnan Province. It uses the Dulong language and has no native language.


The original custom of group marriage of Dulong nationality does not exist now. Both male and female hair, girls have the habit of tattooing. Dulong people believe that all things have spirits, worship natural things, and believe in ghosts.


Dulong nationality, with a population of about 7000 (2010 census data), is mainly distributed in Gongshan Dulong Nu Autonomous County, Nujiang Prefecture, Yunnan Province.


Dulong people are mainly distributed in Gongshan Dulong Nu Autonomous County, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest Yunnan Province, on both sides of Dulong River Valley in the west, Nujiang River in the north, Qile Township, Weixi Lisu Autonomous County and chat along with Township, Chayu County, Tibet Autonomous Region. There are also many Dulong People living in Myanmar.


Dulong engagement tea


The custom of tattooing

In ancient times, tattoos were called “diary”, “Qingji”, “Qingmian”, “Xiujiao”, “Xiumian”, “CIMO”, “Zhaqing” and so on. It is a kind of body decoration method that uses sharp tools such as thorns, needles, and knives to carve patterns or symbols on the skin and infiltrate colors to keep it forever. It originated from the primitive people’s custom of painting on the skin for decoration or religious activities. It was once popular among many primitive peoples in Southeast Asia, Oceania, Central and South America, and Africa. Up to now, many indigenous people in these areas still regard it as an irreplaceable decoration, which is loved by all ethnic groups. In the southeast and southwest of China, the ancient tattoo was also very popular. Until modern times, this custom remains in Li, Dai, Bulang, De’ang, Dulong, Jinuo, WA, Nu, Jingpo, Luoba, Gaoshan, and other nationalities.


The tattoo of Dulong women mainly focuses on the face, so it is often called “face painting” and “tattoo”. Every time a girl reaches the age of twelve or thirteen, she has to tattoo her face to symbolize adulthood. In the process of writing, the elderly and experienced women first dip a bamboo stick in the pot of water to draw a pattern on the girl’s face, then tap the thorn or stick with a needle with a small stick to pierce the skin according to the pattern, and then rub the bottom ash or grass juice into the wound to form a blue pattern after removing the scab. In the middle and upper reaches of the Dulong River, there are five or six rhombic patterns from the center of the eyebrow to the bridge of the nose, and then the small rhombic patterns are expanded to the two sides of the nose with the mouth as the center, and then the small rhombic patterns are combined to form a square circle from the cheeks to the mandible, and the vertical thorn stripes are in the square circle. The whole design is like a butterfly spreading its wings. In the lower reaches of the Dulong River, there are two or three lines of vertical stripes on the mandible. Other parts of the body are not literate.


According to historical records and folk legends, there are specific historical reasons for the origin of the custom. In the past two or three hundred years, Tibetan chieftains and Lisu slaveowners have been deeply involved in the During area, exploiting and squeezing the During people cruelly. In particular, the Tibetan Chawalong chieftain has to impose various taxes on the Dulong People every year, even on their mouths, ears, noses, and hair. If they could not afford to pay, they would forcibly abduct women to Tibetan areas as slaves. Especially young and beautiful Dulong women are often in danger of being taken away from their hometown. In this special social and historical environment, to avoid being plundered and trampled by the chieftain, the Dulong women had to take a negative self-help method, smearing their cheeks with pot smoke, and even preferring to dye their faces into “black ink blue lines” that can never be washed away, which makes people, not like ghosts, which makes strangers afraid and dare not come near. As time passed, the custom of the textured surface was formed and continued until the beginning of liberation. Therefore, a tattooed face is a passive form of struggle against national oppression and personal safety for Dulong women in history.


Dulong women tattoo


Astronomical calendar

Dulong has its own unique calendar algorithm. In the long-term struggle of production and life, the Dulong People, according to the changes of nature, were called “Jiu” from the time when the mountains were sealed with heavy snow to the next year. The year is also divided into twelve festivals and months.


(1) January is called “Amen”, which means snow moon. In this month, we rest and some households grow dry potato.

(2) February is called “a Bo”, which means the grass comes out, and the grass begins to grow when a large number of potatoes are planted.

(3) March is called “suji”, which means planting millet, taro, cotton, and other crops in sowing month.

(4) April is called “Chang Mu Jiang”, which means the month of blossom, peach blossom, and crane crow, and the sowing is finished.

(5) May is called “Ashi”, which means burning volcanoes. A large number of volcanoes stop planting.

(6) June is called “boon”, which means to store grain in hunger month and collect a large amount of wild grain in famine month.

(7) July is called “a Rong”, which means the flowering of mountain grass and the harvesting of wild grain.

(8) In August, it was called “change”, which means frost fell on the moon. The grass was frozen to death and began to harvest crops.

(9) September is called “Danluo”, which means harvesting millet, corn, barnyard grass, and buckwheat.

(10) October is called “total wood armor”, which means snow on the top of the mountain after harvest.

(11) November is called Legang, which means the waterfalls on the moon and the river falls to find winter firewood to cut Tartary buckwheat for winter.

(12) December is called “Dezejian”, which means Lunar New Year’s Day. It is also called “Luosheshila”. Women chop live hemp, weave hemp cloth, and dance cattle dance.


Dulong village


After the founding of the people’s Republic of China, the Dulong People began to learn the advanced calendar and scientific farming calendar, which has become a reference for folk farming. The Dulong People gradually gave up the original algorithm of the natural calendar and adopted the same calendar as the Han people, but there are still folk customs such as “sowing month”, “harvest month” and “Lunar New Year”. The general elderly are not used to the summer calendar, but still, take the change of natural phenomena as the symbol of production.


Religious belief

At present, a quarter of Dulong people believe in Catholicism.


The Dulong people worship natural things and believe that all things have spirit. They regard all-natural and man-made disasters and diseases as having a supernatural God’s power at work. Therefore, mountains, rivers, big trees, and boulders have become objects of worship. Most of the Dulong people who are in charge of sacrificial rites or divination are called “names” or “duo must” by nature. Some of them are also held by the head of the family. They are not full-time engaged in religious activities and usually take part in certain labor. At present, some Dulong people believe in Christianity.


National festivals

In the past, the Dulong people believed in animism, worshipped nature, and believed in ghosts. It is believed that wind, rain, electricity, thunder, mountains, floods, boulders, and strange trees all have ghosts. Ghosts can bring disaster to people, so to pray for disaster, people do not hesitate to spend a lot of livestock food to sacrifice ghosts. There are two kinds of witches, one is called “names”, who is in charge of sacrifice and divination, the other is called “duo must”, who is specialized in exorcising ghosts.


The only festival of the Dulong nationality is the lunar new year. There is no fixed date in the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. The length of the festival depends on the amount of food. The festival is called the “Kaichangwa” festival.


Dulong festival


Specialty foods

There are two kinds of food popular in Dulong’s recipes. One is the sandwich buckwheat cake, which is regarded as the staple food, and the other is the flavor dish “hot summer”. To make buckwheat cake with stuffing, we should first make buckwheat cake with bitter buckwheat flour. Then make the stuffing. Stuffing can be a common vegetable, fish, chicken, pork, or game according to the conditions. However, the Dulong People like to put some wild leeks in it to give the buckwheat cake a unique flavor. This kind of stuffing cake is convenient for people to carry a few before hunting. When you are hungry, you will light a pile of firewood everywhere, take out the cakes, and put them on the fire to burn. Then you will have a few cakes like water, wine, or mountain spring water, and your whole body will grow endless strength. “Xia area” is Dulong, which means stewed chicken with wine. It’s similar to braised chicken in brown sauce and yellow sauce in mainland China, but it’s not water that is put into the chicken, it’s homemade water wine. The chicken made in this way is tender and the gravy is slightly spicy, which is very delicious. Also, the sour bamboo dishes of Dulong People are very special. This kind of food made of bamboo shoots in the mountains is the appetizing and relieving summer heat. As long as you are not used to it, it really feels like the food is not fragrant.


Dulong food


National costume

The traditional clothes of Dulong People are usually made of linen or cotton cloth with black and white straight stripes. They usually wear shorts under them. They are used to stretch a piece of linen from the armpit of their left shoulder to the chest to expose their left shoulder and right arm. At the corner of their left shoulder, they are tied with straw rope or bamboo needles, and they are wearing crossbows, arrow bags, and machetes. Women usually wear dyed oil rattan rings around their waists for decoration. They often wear colorful beads, chest chains, earrings, and even copper and silver coins on their necks and ears. There used to be the custom of tattooing. When women go out, they have to carry delicate bamboo baskets. Men and women do not wear hats, hair barefoot. In the past, the Dulong man used to wear a blanket on his back and tie his lower body to his chest from left to right. He wore shorts to cover his lower body. Women with two long cloth from the shoulder inclined to knee around the front. Both men and women have the same eyebrow, shoulder, and ear tip. Two ears or wear a ring or insert the refined bamboo tube. Now Dulong People generally wear cloth clothes, but they are still covered with striped blankets. The adornment of the Dulong nationality is quite distinctive. Both men and women like to dye the cane red as bracelet and waist ring ornaments. Men will wear machetes, crossbows, and arrow bags when they go out. Women will wear large flower towels on their heads and beads on their necks. Dulong textile technology is more advanced than others, and its linen carpet is of good quality, harmonious color, and distinctive features.


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