A Trip to Jinuo Mountain and Jinuo Minority in XishuangBanna

Located in Bapong Village, Jinuo Town, Jinghong City, the 622.0km2 Jinuo Mountain sits between Wild Elephant Valley and Menglun Botanic Garden. It is 28km east of downtown Jinghong City and 70km west of Mengyang Town. Over 40 primitive villages are embedded into the green forest, sheltering over 17000 Jinuo people.


Jinuo Minority completes the 56 ethnic groups in China. The word “Ji” means “uncle” in their language, “Nuo” means “descendents” and “Jinuo Mountain” means “the inhabit place of the descendents of uncles”. From this we can have a glimpse of their social culture.

Jinuo Minority speaks Jinuo language but has no script. In the past, they kept the record of significant events and myths by engraving them on bamboos. The majority of Jinuo people engage in agriculture and tea plantation. One of China’s top six famous teas: Puer tea, is produced from here.


Just before 1949, Jinuo people still lived in the transitional period when the tribe society was about to give way to hierarchy society (which is the forerunner of feudal society) and the matriarchal society was going to be replaced by patriarchal society. Thus, today, you can still perceive many primitive lifestyles and customs here.

In Longpai Village, you can see big house shared by over one hundred family members of several generations. Though live together in a community, each family claims one house and is self-sufficient, showing the trend to enter the feudal society based on private ownership.


Jinuo People worship sun. Sun Drum Dance is one of their most representative dances. The facade of the drum looks like a sun, and the 17 wood pipes symbolize its rays. Jinuo people believe that beating on the drum on their New Year’s Eve can bring them good luck.


The road to this secluded village clusters is winding. When you enter Jinuo Mountain, you will find may bull heads dangle on the tree branches. Bulls are not used to plowing, but for sacrifice rituals as well as the main source of protein. In Jinuo people’s village, one bull head represents one male villager. The more bull heads in the village, the more men there are.

Jinuo People use one simple music instrument called Qike, which is made of bamboo. Beat on the seven bamboo tubes can bring out different notes.