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Ethnic Groups

China has been a unitary multi-ethnic country since ancient times. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, 56 ethnic groups were identified and recognized by the Chinese Central Government. The population of the Han ethnic group accounts for the majority, making up 91.51% of China's total population. As the population of the other 55 ethnic groups is relatively small, 8.49% of the total population, they are customarily referred to as “ethnic minorities”. China’s ethnic minorities are mainly distributed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Xizang Autonomous Region, Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Liaoning, Jilin, Hunan, Hubei, Hainan, and other provinces and regions.

The distinctive features of Xizang outfits are long sleeves, wide waists, and loose skirts. Women wear long-sleeved robes in winter and sleeveless robes in summer. They usually wear a multi-colored shirt, and an apron with patterns on the waist. The Xizang people love a piece of attire called "Hada", a white long scarf, and regard it as the most precious gift.

The Xizang Ethnic Group

The Xizang ethnic group primarily lives in the Xizang Autonomous Region and Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan, and other provinces following after. The language of the ethnic group is Zang language, and it was created before the 7th century. Borrowing from Sanskrit, Xizang words are a kind of Pinyin script, written horizontally from left to right. Applied throughout the Xizang region, Xizang scripts are divided into two types: the regular script and the cursive script.

Xizang people's clothing is characterized by long sleeves, wide waists and large robes. Females wear long-sleeved robes in winter and sleeveless robes in summer, with blouses of various colors and patterns inside. They wear a colorful, patterned apron around their waists. The "khata" is very popular among Xizang people and is the most valuable gift one can give or receive.

The Uygur Ethnic Group

The Uygur Ethnic Group named themselves "Uygur" as it means "be united". They are a multi-origin ethnic group. The main sources of the Uygur group are Huihe people from the Mongolian grasslands and the indigenous people who lived on the oasis in southern Xinjiang. The two groups merged on a large scale in the year 840; and the groups had become completely integrated in the early 16th century. Through long historical development, the Uyghur people, with their hard work and wisdom, have created an excellent culture with unique ethnic customs.

Uyghurs mainly live in Kashgar, Hotan, Aksu and areas of Korla south of the Tianshan Mountains in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The rest of the population is scattered in Urumqi and Yili to the north of the Tianshan Mountains. A small number of Uyghurs live in Taoyuan and Changde of the Hunan province, Kaifeng, Zhengzhou, and other places in the Henan province. There are a lot of remarkable arts and literary works that have been fabricated by the Uygur ethnic group, such as the story collection "Avanti's Story" and the dance epic "Twelve Muqam". Furthermore, Uighur dances are well-known at home and abroad.

The Hui Ethnic Group

The Hui ethnic group, with a comparatively larger population than most ethnic minorities, can be found in most of parts of the country. They mainly live in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Yunnan, Henan, and Shandong. There are also some Hui settlements in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.

In the areas inhabited by the Hui, they still maintain their traditions and culture in clothing that carries the distinctive features of the Hui. The most notable feature is that men wear white hats and women wear headscarves of various colors. An extremely popular traditional beverage of the Hui is tea. As one drinks it daily, tea is not only the most important part of Hui people’s diet, but also the most precious treat for their guests.

The Miao Ethnic Group

The Miao people live mainly within Guizhou province, or scattered in many other provinces and autonomous regions throughout China. To this end, Yunnan, Hunan, Hubei, Guangdong, Chongqing, Sichuan, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have a Miao population of more than 100,000.

The Miao language belongs to the Miao branch of the Miao-Yao language group of the Chinese-Xizang language family. The history of Miao music and dance is incredibly long, and their Lusheng dance enjoys nationwide popularity. The Miao have created a variety of artistic crafts, such as cross-stitch work, embroidery, brocade, batik, and jewelry casting. It is no wonder that Miao people enjoy a high reputation in the world.

The Zhuang Ethnic Group

The Zhuang ethnic group is one of the earliest indigenous groups in China and is also the largest minority group. They are mainly distributed in Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, and Guizhou.

The Zhuang are good at making self-woven clothing as well as hand-made costumes. Zhuamg women generally wear blue and black, with slightly wide trouser ends, jacquard towels on the head, and delicate aprons around the waist. Young men often wear buttoned tops with a belt.

The Zhuang people enjoy living near mountains and rivers. Surrounded by mountains and natural bodies of water, wooden buildings can be seen; they stand as the traditional residences of the Zhuang. When going into the building, people may find the shrine fixed upon the central axis of the entire house, no matter what kind of house it may be. The front hall of a Zhuang house is used to hold celebrations and social activities, the wing rooms on both sides are bedrooms, and the back hall serves as the living area. The house is centered with a firepit, where three meals a day are cooked and then eaten by the fire.

The Mongolian Ethnic Group

"Mongolia" is what the Mongolians call themselves, which means "the eternal fire". Mongolians mainly live in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, while some live in Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Henan, Hebei, Beijing, and other regions of Northern China. A small number of Mongolians live in Sichuan and Yunnan in the southwest.

The Mongolian people have been living in the grasslands for generations. In the past, Mongolians relied on hunting and herding, living a life of "herding by water and grass." Although this way of living has been considerably declining in modern society, it is still regarded as a symbol of Mongolian culture.

Mongolian clothing consists of four main parts: jewelry, robe, belt, and boots. The Mongolian robe is a cultural garment worn by Mongolian men, women and children. It is a special robe first created during the long stage of the Mongols nomadic lifestyle. Nowadays, Mongolians typically wear traditional robes only at celebrations and gatherings. The Mongolian robe has two long and wide sleeves, a high collar, and single sided buttons on the right. On the neckline, cuff and edge of the robe is usually a trim of lace. The robes for men are mainly blue and brown and the women’s are red, green and purple.