culture of) Bouyei (Buyi)

The Buyi or Bouyei (in their own language) have a population of nearly 3 million. They live mainly in two Bouyei-Miao autonomous prefectures in Guizhou province: Qiannan and Qianxinan, where several famous sightseeing spots are situated: the awe-inspiring Huangguoshu Waterfall, Asia’s largest; the Huaxi Scenic Resort; and the labyrinthine limestone cave called Longgong (Dragon Palace). The region has become an important hydro-electric development zone planned by the central government. Some Bouyei people are scattered over Yunnan, Sichuan and Guangxi. The Bouyei language had no script until the Roman alphabet was introduced in the 1950s. The Bouyei live in houses on stilts or stone houses by the river or on mountain slopes.
They are farmers, but are also migrant workers during the off-season. The Bouyei hand-woven and batik are well known, one of the best-selling handicrafts in the region. Typical costumes are blue and black and they wear turbans with a blue and white chequered pattern. The Bouyei ‘ground drama’ is similar to the mask play in which performers use masks carved of poplar-wood and they perform on the ground. The suona, a Han instrument, is also popular among the Bouyei, and produces the main music in the band playing in simple but energetic rhythms. The Bouyei traditional religion is a mixture of animism and Daoism. They participate in the Han festivals but also have their own, such as the Ox King’s Day to honour oxen for their hard work in the past year, and song festivals which are gatherings for socializing and romantic purposes.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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