Hani Ethnic Minority

Hani is an ethnic minority in southwest China, and the 16th largest ethnic group in China. Yunnan is home to the most Hani people in China, and the total population of Hani in China is about 1.66 million. The Hani people speak Hani language. Before 1949, they had no written language of their own, and had to carve notches on sticks to keep records. In 1957, the central government helped them create a script based on the Latin alphabet.

History of Hani Ethnic Minority

Hani ethnic minority shares the same origin with Yi and Lahu. According to historical records, they all evolved from the ancient Qiang people. The Qiang were once nomadic people living on the Tibetan plateau. Later, one branch of them moved toward south, and as early as the 3rd century AD, their ancestors settled in the swamplands along the Dadu and Yalong rivers. They moved to the vicinity of Ailao and Wuliangshan mountains in the 7th century. During the Tang and Song dynasties, this area was successively controlled by Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms. The Yuan dynasty established a prefectuure in Yunnan to rule the Hani and other peoples. The Ming dynasty ruled by confering official positions on local headmen. The Qing dynasty appointed court officials to administer this area instead of local headmen. 


The Hani people have many branches, comprising over 20 subgroups. They called themselves Hani, Aini, Kaduo, Biyue, Heni, Yani, Baihong, Haoni and the like. With the founding of the PRC in 1949, according to the opinions of the ethnic group, Hani ethnic minority was decided as the unified name of the ethnic group.

Hani Ethnic Towns

Distribution of Hani Ethnic Minority

Hani is mainly distributed between the Yuanjiang river and Lancang river in Yunnan, China. They mostly live in Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture, Xishuangbanna prefecture, Pu’er city and Yuxi city, including Yuanyang, Lvchun, Mojiang, Ning’er, Jiangcheng, Yuanjiang, Zhenyuan, Xinping county and other counties. Kunming, Chuxiong city, Qujing city and other places also have the distribution of Hani ethnic minority.

Religion of Hani Ethnic Minority

Religion of Hani minority is mainly polytheism and ancestor worship. It is believed that there are powerful gods of heaven, earth, dragon tree, and protective gods of village and family, which must be sacrificed regularly to pray for blessings. For various ghosts that bring about the disease and the disaster, they are restricted and driven by the sacrifice and the sorcery. In the early 20th century, Christianity was introduced into some Hani areas, and Buddhism was also spread in some Hani areas, but had little influence on. After 1949, the above-mentioned religious activities gradually declined.

Customs and Habits of Hani Ethnic Minority

Feature of Hani Areas

The Hanis are engaged in agriculture and build their two- and three- storey houses of bamboo, mud, stone and wood on hill slopes. The areas inhabited by the Hanis have rich natural resources. Being subtropical, the land is fertile and the rainfall plentiful- ideal for growing rice, millet, cotton, peanuts, indigo and tea. Growing on the rolling Ailao Mountains are pine, cypress, palm, tung oil and camphor trees, and the forests abound in animals such as tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys, peacocks, parrots and pheasants.

House Building of Hani Ethnic Minority

Referring to Hani ethnic minority, the first thing that comes to mind is the mushroom house, and then the clay-roof house(土掌房). They are an important expression of Hani traditional architecture. Mushroom house is not only a place to live, but also a manifestation of Hani ecological culture. Honghe prefecture has a large number of ethnic groups, each with its own characteristics: Dai people mainly live in the hot river valley and plain area, the alpine mountains are inhabited by Miao and Yao people, and the Hani and Yi people live in the pleasantly cool mid-levels. Hani ethnic minority includes various branches, the house shape is also different, generally there are thatched cottage, mushroom house, clay-roof house, stilt house, tile-roofed house and so on. Among them, the mushroom house made of thatch is the most traditional and common house building, and the mushroom house is also the architectural style with the most profound Hani culture. It got the name because the outside of the house looks like the mushroom in the mountains.

Terraced Culture of Hani Ethnic Minority

Reclaiming terraces in the mountains is the specialty of the Hani ethnic minority and has been a tradition for thousands of years. After experiencing more than 1200 years, Hani people have created the large-scale Hani terraced fields by taking advantage of the geographical and climatic conditions of “four seasons in one mountain and different weathers every ten miles” in the southwest plateau, have built the farming pattern of “forest, villages, rice terraces, rivers”, forming the core of terraced culture. Honghe prefecture is featuring high mountains and deep valleys, from the valley to the top of the mountain, there appears the three-dimensional climate of tropical, subtropical, temperate zong, frigid zone. The virtuous circle of “forest, village, terrace fields, rivers” has formed the agricultural ecosystem of Hani wisdom, the high coordination between man and nature, is the product of the wonderful combination of culture and nature.

Main Hani Rice Terraces in Honghe

Long Street Banquet of Hani Ethnic Minority

Long Street Banquet, also known as Long Table Banquet, is a time-honored culinary tradition prevailing especially among the Hani people. As an epitome of their food culture, etiquette, custom, singing and dancing, Long Street Banquet is usually held during festivals, grand occasions such as wedding ceremonies or newborn babies’ one-year-old birthday parties. Nowadays, as long as you join a group tour, you can experience this timeworn tradition all year around in the majority of Hani villages, which are mainly scattered in Southwest China, a treasure trove of minorities.

Recommended Tours

Cultural Heritages of Hani Ethnic Minority


Festivals of Hani Ethnic Minority

The traditional festivals of the Hani people are mainly Shiyuenian(十月年) and June Festival(六月节). Shiyuenian, known as Zhatele(扎勒特), is celebrated every year in the 10th lunar calendar and lasts five or six days. It is the longest and richest festival of the Hani people of the year, similar to the Spring Festival of the Han nationality. Kuzhazha festival, known as June festival, is held in the 6th lunar month, lasting 3-5 days. Besides, like their Han neighbors, Hani people also celebrate the Spring Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-autumn Festival.

Hani Villages 

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