The Wa Nationality
The Wa nationality has a population of 360,200, living in Cangyuan, Gengma, Shuangjiang, Zhengkang counties of Loncang Prefecture, and Ximeng, Menglian, Lancang counties of simao Prefecture. Cangyuan and Ximeng are the two counties where the Was live in compact communities. The Was are the descendents of the Pu people.
They were called “Wangman”, “guci” and “Kawa” in the Tang ,Ming and Qing dynasties respectively. But they called themselves “Wa”, “Bu rao ke” and “Ah-Wa “. After Liberation, they were named the Wa nationality of their own will.
Their language, which includes four dialects, belongs to the Mon-Khmer Branch of the southern Aisian Language Family, (Wa-deang Branch). Before Liberation, they used wood-cutting, bean-counting and rope-knotting for record and notation.
And they expressed their emotions by sending different objects. for example, sending chilies to another village denoted indignation, while sugar canes and salt meant friendship.
The majority of the Wa people believe in primitive religion, but those from the Cangyuan region believe in Hinayana Buddhism. Before Liberation, religious activities like “Pulling Wooden drum” and “Cutting Oxen Tails” were held in Ximeng. The Wa people regard the wooden drum as a religious tool that has exceptional power.
It they carry it back to their village and offer sacrifices by butchering oxen, they could expect god to bless them with a good harvest and a happy life. therefore, every Wa village has a wooden drum house.
The costumes of the Wa people are unique, characterized by those in the Ximeng region, They like black clothes with red decoration. The women usually wear short black collarless coats that just reach the upper part of the belly, and skirts with red, blue and black stripes. They wear long hair, silver hoops on their heads, big earrings, thick necklaces and colorful strings of beads on their chests.
The naked parts of their bellies and legs are decorated with rattan hoops. The men wear black or red turbans, black collarless short coats, and loose trousers, with swords on their waists. Most of them are bare-footed. Some wear earrings, silver necklaces and bracelets as well.
The Wa people are fond of singing and dancing. Their dances are rich on content and varied in form, overflowing with enthusiasm. the popular dances are “Circular Dance “, “Wood Drum dance”, “Rice Husking Dance”, and “Hair-Swinging Dance”.