The Deang Nationality
The Deang nationality has a population of 16,400, most of whom live in the Santaishan Mountain area of Luxi Municipality, Dehong Prefecture, and Zhenkang County of Lincang Prefecture. A few live in Ruili City, Lianghe, Yingjiang, Lingchuan counties of Dehong Prefecture, and gengma County of Lincang Prefecture.
The Deang people share the same ancestors with the Wa and the Bulang who were called “Pu” in the Han and Jin Dynasties. They were called “Benglong” in the Qing Dynasty. But they addressed themselves “de -ang” or “Da-ang”. In 1985, they were collectively named the Deang nationality.
The Deang people have their own language, which belongs to the Mon-Khmer Branch of the South Asian Langrage family (Deang Branch). Since they get along well with the Dai, the Han and the Jingpo nationalities, the majority of them can speak the Dai, the Han and the Jingpo languages. Having no writing system, they use the characters of the Han and the Dai.
Most Deang people believe in Hinayana Buddhism, and therefore Buddhist temples are found in most Deang villages. They have a long history of tea planting, and are quite experienced growers. Therefore they are called “the Ancient Tea Growers”.
The Dean men usually wear black or white turbans with the two ends decorated with colorful floss balls. They wear big earrings, thick silver necklaces, blue or black coats and loose trousers.
The women like to have their hair shaved, and then wrap the heads with black cloth. They wear big earrings, thick silver necklaces, blue or black overcoats, and rattan waistbands.
They wear tight skirts with colorful strips. And the colors of their skirts vary from branch to branch. The Deang people have the custom of tattooing their bodies, usually on legs, arms and chests with patterns of flowers, grass, tigers, deer, birds and scriptures or incantations in the Dai language.
They are fond of chewing tobacco and Luxi for the sake of protecting the teeth. They major festivals are the water Splashing festival, the Opening-door Festival and the Closing-door festival.