Dulong Ethnic Minority

Dulong ethnic group is one of the minorities with a small population in China, and is the minority with the smallest population in Yunnan province. Dulong people speak Dulong language, but they have no their own written language. Dulong minority has the habit of facial tattoo. They believe in the spirit of all things, worship natural objects.

History of Dulong Ethnic Minority

According to historical records, during the Tang and Song dynasties, the main areas where Dulong people lived were under the jurisdiction of Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms. From the Yuan dynasty to the Qing dynasty, the Dulong people were ruled by Tusi Mu (ruler of the yi nationality) appointed by the court. In the middle of the Qing dynasty, their settlements were managed by the Naxi chiefs of Kangpu and Yezhi, and later completely by the headman of Yezhi. In 1909, a full-time Qiuguan(governor) was appointed to administer the Dulong river valley. In 1918, the government set up Changputong Prefectural Administrative Office in Gongshan county, which was later changed into Establishment and Administration Bureau of Gongshan County. Till the middle period of the 20th century, the Drung nationality was still in the disintegration stage of the primitive commune. It was precisely because of the oppression and massacres of reactionary rule in past dynasties and the bullying of modern imperialism that the dulong people suffered greatly and their population continued to decline. By the eve of the founding of new China, there were only over 1,700 people left, almost on the verge of extinction.


Dulong ethnic minority is mainly distributed on the both sides of Dulongjiang river and Nujiang river in Gongshan County of Nujiang, as well as in the neighboring Qile township(齐乐乡) of Weixi county and Zayu county of Tibet. There are also many Dulong people living in Myanmar.


The name of Dulong was first seen in the item of customs of Lijiang Road in The Records of Unification of Great Yuan Danasty. Dulong people were called “Qiao” in Yuan Dynasty and “Qiu(俅)” or “Qu”, also “Qiuren(俅人)” and “Qiuzi(俅子)”, during the Ming and Qing dynasties. With the founding of the new China in 1949, following the consultation and will of the ethnic minority, it was decided to agree upon the official name of Dulong ethnic minority.


Dulong people speak Drung language, which belongs to Tibetan-Burmese group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family and is basically communicable with Nu language of Gongshan county. However, they have no their own written language.

Customs and Habits of Dulong Ethnic Minority


Dulong people usually wear black and white striped gunny or cotton clothes and a pair of short trousers. Dulong women often wear colorful rattan rings around their waists as decoration. They used to tattoo their faces. The Dulong men and women wear no hats and mostly have unkempt hair and bare feet. Today, their clothes have changed a lot. Women wear long-sleeved clothing, following the lead of the Lisu ethnic group and wearing colored bead necklace chains. Men like to wear crossbows and hunting knives around their waists.


The traditional diet of the Dulong people is natural and unique. Due to the influence of social and economic development and the surrounding natural ecological environment, their food sources were relatively scarce historically, belonging to the omnivorous structure with half of grain and half of wild plants. Staple food varieties are not many, mainly corn, potatoes, barley, barnyard grass, buckwheat and oats, among which starch food often occupy the majority of the proportion. Cookware is simple and crude, mainly made of bamboo and wood, coupled with the lack of deputy food and condiment, the ways to make food is also simple, mostly burning, roasting and cooking. In recent years, with the introduction of a variety of legumes and vegetables, the Dulong people’s eating habits have changed. Dulong people are addicted to drink, and what they drink is low-alcohol water wine made by themselves. Wine is indispensable production cooperation, weddings and funerals, religious ceremonies and festivals, and it occupies a special and important position in the social life of the Dulong.

Facial Tattoos

Dulong minority is an ancient ethnic minority that live in Dulong River Canyon. Before the liberation of China, according to the old tradition of the Drung ethnic minority, once a girl gets into adulthood, she has to accept the ethnic baptism and get branded. Facial tattoo of women is a special costom of Dulong people. As for the reason, there are different versions. Some said that it is the coming-of-age ceremony of Dulong girls in 12 or 13 ages or it shows the totemism of Dulong people. Some said that it is a unique method to prevent from the robbery of Tibetan Tusi. Whatever the ture reason is, the traditon of facial tattoo women is dying out gradually.


Under the traditional concept of animism, Dulong people generally believe in the existence and function of ghosts. Their knowledge and worship of the natural world are embodied in their belief and sacrifice to various ghosts. They believe that wind, rain, lightning, thunder, high mountains, floods, boulders and strange trees have their own ghosts. Since ghosts can bring curses to people, they will generously offer animals, food and other offerings to the ghosts to pray for blessings and avoid blows. In the 1930s and 1940s, after Christianity was introduced into the Dulongjiang river area, some Dulong people at the downstream of Dulongjiang river began to believe in Christianism.

Song and Dance of Dulong Ethnic Minority

The Dulong people like singing and dancing. Whether to produce, harvest, hunt, build houses, propose marriage or celebrate festivals, they all tend to express their emotions and confide inner feelings of pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy through songs and dances. Accompanying Musical Instruments are oral string, gong, drum, flutes, leather drums and so on. All the men and women are good at improvising songs or dancing.

Festival of Dulong Ethnic Minority

The only traditional festival of the Dulong ethnic minority is celebrating the New Year, which is called “Kaquewa(卡雀哇)” in the Dulong language. Generally, it is celebrated in the 11st lunar month, that is every year from December to January in the following year. Without fixed date, specific day is chosen by each village oneself. The duration of the festival always depends on the quantity of food prepared, two or three days, or four or five days. During the festival, people sit around the fireplace, interchanging greetings, holding grand hunting ceremony, and offer sacrifices to ghosts and mountain gods, sing and dance until midnight.

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