The Zhuang people (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. Their population, estimated at 18 million people, makes them the largest minority in China.
Zhuang people in ethnic clothes, Guangnan, 2008
|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˧/)|
Chinese character namesEdit
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 calls Zhuàng 獞, with the "dog radical" 犭 and a tóng 童 phonetic, an ethnic slur and describes how the People's Republic of China removed it. In 1949, after the Chinese civil war, the logograph 獞 was officially replaced with a different graphic pejorative, Zhuàng 僮 (or tóng "child; boy servant"), with the "human radical" 亻and the same phonetic. Later, during the standardization of simplified Chinese characters, Zhuàng 僮 was changed to a completely different character Zhuàng 壮 (meaning "strong; robust").
Some ethnologists view Zhuang as a modern constructed identity since it was promoted by the government, while the Zhuang themselves were not different enough from the Han to form a unique ethnic minority. 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 the Han script for centuries. Formal classification of the Zhuang also ignored historical similarities between northern Zhuang and the Bouyei people.
Customs and cultureEdit
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, 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.
While most Zhuang people have adopted standard Han Chinese names, some have distinct surnames only found amongst those of Zhuang descent such as "覃" (pinyin: Qín), usually pronounced "Tán".
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 bu mo who traditionally use chicken bones for divination. In Moism, the creator is known as Bu Luotuo and the universe is tripartite, with all things composed from the three elements of heaven, earth, and water.
Zhuang cuisine includes many salty and sour dishes such as pickled cabbage, pickled vegetables and pork, and dried fish. A common Zhuang drink is "oil tea", tea leaves fried in oil with rice grains brewed and drunk with peanuts or a rice cake.
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.
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.
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.
Chinese historical documents are minimal, simply referring to the lands south of the Yangtze as the "Hundred Yue". Qin Shihuang's southern invasions are detailed in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian. The initial thrust south of the Nanling proved disastrous, with the general Tu Sui falling in battle around 218 BC, but his engineer Shi Lu completed the construction of the Ling Canal, which linked the Xiang and Li rivers. By 214, Zhao Tuo and Ren Xiao had returned and pacified the Western Valley Yue, opening up Guangxi and the south to the immigration of hundreds of thousands of his subjects.
At the fall of the Qin Dynasty a decade later, Zhao Tuo, using his position as the commander of the Nanhai Commandery, formed a state centered on Panyu called Southern Yue (Nanyue). Alternatively submissive to and independent of Han control, this Kingdom expanded colonization and Sinification under its policy of "Harmonizing and Gathering the Hundred Yue" (和集百越) but was supported by the Zhuang until its collapse in 111 BC.
The Han Dynasty reduced local authority and established military posts at Guilin, Wuzhou, and Yulin. An uprising in Vietnam led by the Trưng sisters was put down in AD 42 by general Ma Yuan, who is recorded as helping to pacify the regions by improving its irrigation networks and improving various Han laws. Despite his efforts, immigration of the Yao from near Changsha unsettled the region.
Under the Tang, the Zhuang moved to support the Tai kingdom of Southern Zhao (Nanzhao) in Yunnan which successfully repulsed imperial armies in 751 and 754. Guangxi was then divided into an area of Zhuang ascendancy west of Nanning and an area of Han ascendancy east of Nanning.
After the collapse of the Southern Zhao, Liu Yan established the Southern Han (Nanhan) in Guangdong. Although this state gained minimal control over the Zhuang, the Southern Han were plagued by instability and annexed by the Song Dynasty in 971.
Harassed by both Song and the Jiaozhi in modern Vietnam, the Zhuang leader Nong Zhigao led a revolt in 1052 for which he is still remembered by the Zhuang people. His independent kingdom was short-lived, however, and the tattooed Song general Di Qing returned Guangxi to China.
The Mongolian Yuan Dynasty established control over the Southern Song following the Battle of Yamen in 1279 and annexed the Kingdom of Dali in Yunnan. Rather than ruling Lingnan as a subject territory, the Mongols established Guangxi as a proper province, but the Miao coming from Guizhou and Hunan kept the region from being totally controlled.
The area continued to be unruly, leading the Ming Dynasty to employ the 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 Manchu Qing Dynasty left the region alone until the imposition of direct rule in 1726, but the 19th century was one of constant unrest. A Yao revolt in 1831 was followed by the Taiping Rebellion and Da Cheng Rebellion in 1850. The execution of St. Auguste Chapdelaine by local officials in Guangxi provoked the Second Opium War in 1858 and subsequent French interference in its interior. Guangxi Army saw a great deal of actions in the 1884 Franco-Chinese War, even Brière de l'Isle was unable to invade their depot at Longzhou,and They was able to repulse the French from China at the Battle of Zhennan Pass, thus won the Franco-Chinese War.
(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 peopleEdit
- 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.
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A Senior City Police Officer Pursues His Roots in China, By Marvine Howe, The New York Times, 14 November 1985.
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