The Zhuang (/ /,) (Chinese: 壮族; pinyin: Zhuàngzú; Zhuang: Bouxcuengh) are a Tai-speaking East Asian ethnic group who mostly live in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in Southern China. Some also live in the Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan provinces. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. With the Buyi, Tay–Nùng and other Northern Tai speakers, they are sometimes known as the Rau or Rao people. Their population, estimated at 18 million people, makes them the largest minority in China, followed by Hui and Manchu.
|Regions with significant populations|
|China (Particularly Guangxi)|
|Zhuang languages, Cantonese, Mandarin, Pinghua|
|Indigenous Zhuang Shigongism (Moism)|
Minority Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism
|Related ethnic groups|
Tày, Tai/Dai and Nung (Vietnam)
|Traditional Chinese||壯族 or 僮族|
|Zhuang||Bouxcuengh (pronounced /pou˦˨ ɕueŋ˧/)|
The Chinese character used for the Zhuang people has changed several times. Their autonym, "Cuengh" in Standard Zhuang, was originally written with the graphic pejorative Zhuàng, 獞 (or tóng, referring to a variety of wild dog). Chinese characters typically combine a semantic element or radical and a phonetic element. John DeFrancis recorded Zhuàng was previously Tóng, 獞, with "dog radical" 犭 and tóng, 童 phonetic, a slur, but also describes how the People's Republic of China eventually removed it. In 1949, after the Chinese civil war, the logograph 獞 was officially replaced with a different graphic pejorative, 僮 (just tóng, meaning "child; boy servant"), with the "human radical" 亻with the same phonetic. Later, during the standardization of simplified Chinese characters, Tóng 僮 was changed to a different character Zhuàng, 壮 (meaning"strong; robust").
The Zhuang are the indigenous peoples of Guangxi, according to Huang Xianfan. The Zhuang's origins can be traced back to the paleolithic ancient human, as demonstrated by a large amount of contemporary archaeological evidence.
The Zhuang trace their lineage to the Lạc Việt people through artworks such as the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain, dating from to the Warring States period (475–221 BC).
The Zhuang were mentioned in texts during the Song dynasty. One of the Zhuang leaders, Nong Zhigao, led a rebellion against the Lý dynasty of Đại Việt in 1042 and declared an independent state of Dali (not to be confused with the Dali Kingdom). He was defeated and later caused trouble in Song territory in 1052. His independent kingdom of Danan (Great South) was short-lived, however, and the Song general Di Qing defeated him. Nong Zhigao and his people fled to the Dali Kingdom, but Dali executed him to appease the Song.
The Zhuang continued to cause trouble in the Ming dynasty, which used different groups against one another. One of the bloodiest battles in Zhuang history was that at Big Rattan Gorge against the Yao in 1465, where 20,000 deaths were reported. Parts of Guangxi were ruled by the powerful Cen clan (岑). The Cen were of Zhuang ethnicity and were recognized as tusi or local ruler by the Ming and Qing. The Ming launched several campaigns to civilize the non-Han southwestern people, including the Zhuang, by setting up schools. While the Zhuang became more intimately familiar with Han culture, it did not pacify them, and they continued to cause rebellions into the Qing dynasty.
Writing in the 19th century, a Qing dynasty official described the Zhuang thus:
The Yao and Zhuang live mixed up together. They do not devote themselves to Poetry or to Documents...They have a crude understanding of rites and decorum. The local customs are to pay great regard for wealth, and to kill lightly. When they leave the house they carry knives for self-defense. The inhabitants labor in the rice-fields; they do not engage in trade… In the markets it is mainly the women who engage in trade. When sick they resort only to shamans and spirit mediums.
Later many Zhuang peasants took part in revolutionary movements such as the 1911 Revolution as part of the Tongmenghui. In the 1930s, the Kuomintang attempted to control the Zhuang people through force, causing indignation and resentment. In contrast, many Zhuang joined the communist army under the leadership of their Zhuang leader, Wei Baqun.
Customs and culture
While Chinese scholarship continues to place the Zhuang–Dong languages among the Sino-Tibetan family, other linguists treat the Tai languages as a separate family. They have been linked with the Austronesian languages, which dispersed from Taiwan after a migration from the mainland. However, the Austro-Tai hypothesis uniting these families is now supported by only a few scholars.
The Zhuang languages are a group of mutually unintelligible languages of the Tai family, heavily influenced by nearby varieties of Chinese. The Standard Zhuang language is based on a northern dialect, but it is closer to the Bouyei language than Southern Zhuang, so few people learn it. Due to mutually unintelligible languages or dialects, Zhuang people from different areas use Chinese to communicate with each other and Chinese was used as the lingua franca in areas of high Zhuang population such as the official Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Whilst according to some semi-official sources "In Guangxi, compulsory education is bilingual in Zhuang and Chinese, with a focus on early Zhuang literacy," only a small percentage of schools teach written Zhuang. Zhuang has been written using logograms based on Chinese characters ("Sawndip") for over 1,000 years. Standard Zhuang, the official alphabetical script, was introduced in 1957 and in 1982 the Cyrillic letters were changed to Latin letters. However, the traditional character-based script is more commonly used in less formal domains and in June 2017 just over one thousand of these characters were added in Unicode 10.0 .
The literate Zhuang had their own writing system, Sawndip (lit. "uncooked script"), recording folk songs, operas, poems, scriptures, letters, contracts and court documents. The works include both entirely indigenous works and translations from Chinese, fact and fiction, religious texts and secular texts.
When comes to places, some village names in China have the suffix "板" (pinyin: bǎn), which means "village" in Zhuang (e.g. 板塘, 板岭乡, 板帽, 板罕).
The Buluotuo Festival is a three day event that occurs in April during which singing and chanting take place.
Most Zhuang follow a traditional animist faith known as Shigongism or Moism, which include elements of ancestor worship. The Mo have their own sutra and professional priests known as bumo or mogong who traditionally use chicken bones for divination. The bumo read scriptures, perform divination, and other rituals to drive away pestilence. Their sacred scroll is the Sanqing (three pure ones). In Chinese the bumo are known as wushi, spiritual mediums. The wupo, in contrast to the bumo, are elderly women considered to be chosen by god, who sing traditional mountain songs. The role of the wupo is Zhuang religion has been minimized due to influence from Chinese religious traditions.
The Zhuang religion believes that the world is composed of three aspects: heaven, earth, and water. Earth is ruled by the creator god, Baeuqloxdoh (Buluotuo), water by the dragon god, Ngweg, and heaven by the thunder god, Gyaj. Baeuqloxdoh's wife, Meh Nangz, the mother goddess, is also worshiped.
Buluotuo and Muliujia were sent down to the empty Earth to create a new world. They departed from Heaven in the second lunar month. Buluotuo shouldered two large baskets, with one carrying five children and the other carrying bedding and clothing. Muliujia carried a hoe and sickle. They came to the area of present-day Tianyang on the 19th day. On that day there was strong wind and rain accompanied by deafening thunder and exploding lightning which caused Buluotuo’s shouldered pole to break and the baskets to fall to the Earth. The bedding landed to the east of today’s Na-Guan village and formed a mountain, a hole in the bedding became the caves. The fallen sickle and hoe dug a large curved slit, rain fell into the ditch and all converged to form Youjiang (the Right River). Buluotuo and Muliujia then landed on the top of the mountain to look for their children, this rock was hence called Wangzi (Waiting-for-the-son) Rock. To the west, their five children became five hills; people called it “Five Children Mountain” but it later deviated to become “Five Fingers Mountain” because of the homophonic “zi”(child) and “zhi” (fingers). Later on, Buluotuo and Muliujia lived in the muniang cave and reproduced humankind and animals. The cave faces south and there is a wide plain area in front of the cave. The cave touches a good fengshui and is surrounded by trees and flowers. Inside the cave, there is a spacious area decorated by stalactites. There are holes behind the wall of the cave in which one hole is called “sky hole” that can connect to the north. Buluotuo gradually created a wide new world. When the children grew up, Buluotuo taught them to farm and set up villages outside the mountain.
Meh Nangz is the local Zhuang dialect for calling the goddess of the villagers living near Mt. Ganzhuang. It is transliterated into Mandarin as Muniang, which mean Mother Goddess. For the scholars who research Zhuang folklore, Muniang properly refers to Muliujia, or Mehloeggyap in Zhuang, which is the goddess of creation and fertility. According to the epic, the original form of the universe was swirling air. As it swirled faster and faster the universe consolidated into an “egg” and it exploded into three parts. The top part was heaven, the bottom was water, and the one in the middle was earth. Later, there was a fleshy flower that grew out of the earth and in the blooming flower was born a goddess. She was pretty and wise, with long flowing hair, and she was naked. She was known as Muliujia, “mu” refers to mother and “liujia” is a bird that the Zhuang use to symbolize wisdom. Thus, Muliujia refers to the mother of wisdom.
Some ethnologists viewed the Zhuang ethnicity as a modern constructed ethnic identity. In the eyes of the ethnologists, the Zhuang culture was not sufficiently divergent from what the ethnologists considered "Han culture", to warrant recognition as a separate ethnic identity. One view is that Zhuang identity was created by the government to weaken Cantonese regional unity. In one instance, a Zhuang student said that he had previously regarded himself as Han Chinese before being taught that he was Zhuang. The Zhuang did not perceive themselves as marginalized or in need of promotion. Zhuang peasants displayed resistance to the ideal of a formal Romanized Zhuang script, noting that they had used Han script for centuries. Formal classification of the Zhuang also ignored historical similarities between northern Zhuang and the Bouyei people.
Guangxi has a type of people called “local people” who are widely spread across the province… They rather refer to themselves as “Han who speak the Zhuang language.”… Since the language they speak is generally called Zhuang, we recommend calling them Zhuang. The Zhuang are a relatively large Chinese southern minority, but we still know little about them. I…hope that scholars with more expertise on nationality history will offer us their assistance, and in this way move towards a better understanding of these people.— Fei Xiaotong, leader of the project of ethnic classification, 1952
Genetic evidence points out Zhuang possesses a very high frequency of Haplogroup O2 with most of them being subclade O2a making it the most dominant marker, one that they share with Austro-Asiatic. The other portion of O2 belongs to subclade O2a1. Zhuangs have prevalent frequencies of O1 which links them with Austronesian, but O1 is at much lower rate compared to O2a and only slightly higher than O2a1. Haplogroup O2 in Taiwan aborigines is almost completely non-existent, but they exhibit very high frequencies of O1. This suggests that in the event that the Austro-Tai hypothesis is correct, Tai-Kadai speakers would have assimilated mostly Austro-Asiatic people into their population after the separation of Tai and Austronesian.
(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >0.1% of China's Zhuang population.)
|Province||Prefecture||County||Zhuang Population||% of China's Zhuang Population|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Yongning District (邕宁区)||766,441||4.74%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Laibin City||Xingbin District (兴宾区)||600,360||3.71%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Wuming County (武鸣县)||524,912||3.24%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Jingxi County (靖西县)||452,399||2.8%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guigang City||Gangbei District (港北区)||424,343||2.62%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Yizhou District (宜州市)||405,372||2.51%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Du'an Yao Autonomous County (都安瑶族自治县)||399,142||2.47%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Liujiang District (柳江区)||383,478||2.37%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Pingguo City (平果市)||350,122||2.16%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Heng County (横县)||323,428||2.0%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Guangnan County (广南县)||315,755||1.95%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Laibin City||Xincheng County (忻城县)||315,354||1.95%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Tiandeng County (天等县)||307,660||1.9%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Daxin County (大新县)||306,617||1.9%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Fusui County (扶绥县)||305,369||1.89%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Mashan County (马山县)||302,035||1.87%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Long'an County (隆安县)||301,972||1.87%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Tiandong County (田东县)||301,895||1.87%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Shanglin County (上林县)||297,939||1.84%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Ningming County (宁明县)||270,754||1.67%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Debao County (德保县)||268,650||1.66%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Dahua Yao Autonomous County (大化瑶族自治县)||261,277||1.61%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Tianyang County (田阳县)||261,129||1.61%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Jiangzhou District (江州区)||245,714||1.52%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Youjiang District (右江区)||244,329||1.51%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Longzhou County (龙州县)||242,616||1.5%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Shijiao District (市郊区)||242,049||1.5%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Laibin City||Wuxuan County (武宣县)||237,239||1.47%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Huanjiang Maonan Autonomous County (环江毛南族自治县)||231,373||1.43%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Jinchengjiang District (金城江区)||219,381||1.36%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Donglan County (东兰县)||212,998||1.32%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Laibin City||Xiangzhou County (象州县)||212,849||1.32%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Funing County (富宁县)||211,749||1.31%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Qinzhou City||Qinbei District (钦北区)||209,460||1.29%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Luzhai County (鹿寨县)||208,262||1.29%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Liucheng County (柳城县)||186,720||1.15%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Longlin Various Nationalities Autonomous County (隆林各族自治县)||180,172||1.11%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Fangchenggang City||Shangsi County (上思县)||179,837||1.11%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Nandan County (南丹县)||162,944||1.01%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Binyang County (宾阳县)||160,893||0.99%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Xixiangtang District (西乡塘区)||152,606||0.94%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Napo County (那坡县)||151,939||0.94%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Bama Yao Autonomous County (巴马瑶族自治县)||151,923||0.94%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Tianlin County (田林县)||140,507||0.87%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Yanshan County (砚山县)||130,146||0.8%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Luocheng Mulao Autonomous County (罗城仫佬族自治县)||122,803||0.76%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Qiubei County (丘北县)||120,626||0.75%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Qingxiu District (青秀区)||112,402||0.69%|
|Guangdong Province||Dongguan City||Urban area (市辖区)||98,164||0.61%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Rong'an County (融安县)||97,898||0.6%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Fengshan County (凤山县)||93,652||0.58%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Laibin City||Heshan City (合山市)||93,456||0.58%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guigang City||Guiping City (桂平市)||93,271||0.58%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Wenshan City (文山市)||91,257||0.56%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Shijiao District (市郊区)||90,263||0.56%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Xilin County (西林县)||88,935||0.55%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Chongzuo City||Pingxiang City (凭祥市)||85,603||0.53%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Fangchenggang City||Fangcheng District (防城区)||84,281||0.52%|
|Guangdong Province||Shenzhen City||Bao'an District (宝安区)||81,368||0.5%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hechi City||Tian'e County (天峨县)||79,236||0.49%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Leye County (乐业县)||71,739||0.44%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Liunan District (柳南区)||63,470||0.39%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Yufeng District (鱼峰区)||62,870||0.39%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Baise City||Lingyun County (凌云县)||58,655||0.36%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Qinzhou City||Qinnan District (钦南区)||58,571||0.36%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Laibin City||Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County (金秀瑶族自治县)||58,539||0.36%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Liubei District (柳北区)||57,290||0.35%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Rongshui Miao Autonomous County (融水苗族自治县)||56,770||0.35%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Maguan County (马关县)||54,856||0.34%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Jiangnan District (江南区)||54,232||0.34%|
|Guangdong Province||Foshan City||Nanhai District (南海区)||50,007||0.31%|
|Guangdong Province||Qingyuan City||Lianshan Zhuang and Yao Autonomous County (连山壮族瑶族自治县)||44,141||0.27%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guilin City||Lipu County (荔浦县)||41,425||0.26%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hezhou City||Babu District (八步区)||40,532||0.25%|
|Yunnan Province||Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture||Mengzi City (蒙自市)||37,938||0.23%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Nanning City||Xingning District (兴宁区)||36,418||0.22%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Malipo County (麻栗坡县)||33,250||0.21%|
|Guangdong Province||Zhongshan City||Urban area (市辖区)||31,666||0.2%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guilin City||Longsheng Various Nationalities Autonomous County (龙胜各族自治县)||30,358||0.19%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guilin City||Yangshuo County (阳朔县)||29,632||0.18%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guilin City||Yongfu County (永福县)||25,564||0.16%|
|Yunnan Province||Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture||Xichou County (西畴县)||24,212||0.15%|
|Guangdong Province||Shenzhen City||Longgang District (龙岗区)||22,708||0.14%|
|Yunnan Province||Qujing City||Shizong County (师宗县)||22,290||0.14%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Guilin City||Pingle County (平乐县)||21,744||0.13%|
|Guizhou Province||Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture||Congjiang County (从江县)||21,419||0.13%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Hezhou City||Zhongshan County (钟山县)||20,834||0.13%|
|Guangdong Province||Foshan City||Shunde District (顺德区)||18,759||0.12%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Liuzhou City||Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County (三江侗族自治县)||18,335||0.11%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Qinzhou City||Lingshan County (灵山县)||17,715||0.11%|
|Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||Fangchenggang City||Dongxing City (东兴市)||16,651||0.1%|
Notable Zhuang people
- A Nong (c. 1005–1055), Zhuang shaman, matriarch and warrior; mother of Nong Zhigao.
- Lady of Qiao Guo, heroine of the Zhuang people in Southern and Northern Dynasties.
- Nong Zhigao, hero of the Zhuang people in Song Dynasty.
- Shi Dakai, Yi King of the Taiping Rebellion.
- Wei Changhui, North King of the Taiping Rebellion.
- Huang Xianfan, Chinese historian and ethnologist, considered the founder of Zhuang studies.
- Li Ning, Chinese gymnast and entrepreneur.
- Shanye Huang, Well-known Chinese-American artist whose art is rooted in Zhuang culture.
- Wei Wei (singer), a Mandopop singer and actress.
- Tracy Wang 汪小敏 (zh), a singer.
- Zhuang languages
- Standard Zhuang
- Zhuang customs and culture
- Dong Son culture
- Mo (religion)
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