Travel Yunnan China : Yunnan Minorities : The Lisu Nationality

The Lisu Nationality

The population of the Lisu nationality is 580,000,half of whom live in compact communities in Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture. The rest are scattered in Lijiang, Dehong, Chong, Chuxiong and Baoshan. Their ancestors were a branch of the Diqiang people. They were called "Linman", "Shiman" or "Shunman" in the Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties, and "Lixie" and "Lisu"on the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the 8th century, their ancestors inhabited a wide region along the Yalong River and the Jinsha River. From the 15th to the to the 19th century, they moved gradually to the Lancang (Mekong) and the Nujiang valleys.

The Lisu people have their own language, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family (Yi Brach). In 1975,the Chinese Government helped them to create their new writing system in Latin.

In the course of production, the Lisu people created their unique Natural Calendar. That is , they divided a year into flower-Blooming Month (March), Bird-Singing Month (April). Cultivation Month (May), Hungry Month (June), Gathering Month (July and August), Harvesting Month (September and October), Wine Brewing Month (November), Huntong Month (December), New Year Month (January ) and Construction Month (February), which were based on the topographical feature and the climates. Their houses are wood or bamboo houses called "Houses on Numerous Poles". They kept their system of clans and adopted the names of animals and plants as clan names, such as tiger, bear, sheep, snake, chicken, bird, bee, buckwheat, bamboo, flax and tea.

The costumes of the Lisu women are very beautiful. Generally they wear coats with buttons on the right, and linen trousers with different colors, They are divided into Black, White and Colorful braches according to the colors of the clothes they wear. For example, the Colorful :Lisu wear long skirts with colorful laces, and colorful turbans. Men usually wear linen gowns or coats, trousers stretching to the ankles, and turbans, with swords worn on the left and arrow-bags on the right.

The main festivals are the Kuoshi Festival (New Year), the Sword Pole Festival and the Harvesting festival.

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