Yao Ethnic Minority

The Yao Ethnic Minority in Yunnan Province are a group of people who have been migrating from shifting farming to settlement. In the long-term process of historical development, they always considered themselves as Yao ethnic minority, although they had different languages, customs and self-names. Historically, the Yaos have had at least 30 names based on their ways of production, lifestyles, dresses and adornments. The name “Yao” was officially adopted after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

History of Yao Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

The legend of the ancestors of the Yao nationality is one of the ancient oriental “Jiuli(九黎)” and later migrated to Hubei and Hunan. In the Qin and Han Dynasties, the ancestors of the Yao nationality lived in Changsha, Wuling or Wuxi. In the historical materials of the Han Dynasty, they were called “Wulingman(武陵蛮)” and “Wuximan(五溪蛮)” together with other ethnic minorities. During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, Yao people were mainly distributed in today’s most parts of Hunan, the northeast of Guangxi and the northern mountainous areas of Guangdong. At the end of Ming Dynasty and the beginning of Qing Dynasty, some Yao people migrated from Guangdong and Guangxi to Yunnan and Guizhou. At this time, Yao people spread over six provinces (regions) in the south, basically forming today’s distribution situation, with the characteristics of “large dispersion and small settlement”. After the middle of Ming Dynasty, some Yao people from Guangxi and Yunnan entered Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries and became residents of other countries.

Language of Yao Ethnic People

Half of the Yaos speak the Yao language belonging to the Chinese-Tibetan language family, others use Miao or Dong languages. As a result of close contacts with the Hans and Zhuangs, many Yaos also have learned to speak Chinese or Zhuang language. Before 1949, the Yaos did not have a written language. Ancient Yaos kept records of important affairs by carving notches on wood or bamboo slips. Later they used Chinese characters. 

Distribution of Yao Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

There are four branches of Yao nationality in Yunnan. 88% of the Yao population is distributed in Funing, Jinping, Hekou, Malipo, Guangnan, Mengla, Yuanyang, Lvchun and other counties of Yunnan.

Yao Autonomous Counties in Yunnan

Yao Ethnic Townships in Yunnan

Featured Yao Villages in Yunnan

Protection Area of Yao Ethnic Culture

Cultural Heritages of Yao Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

Intangible Cultural Heritages of Yao in Yunnan

Inheritors of Yao’s Intangible Cultural Heritages in Yunnan

Festivals of Yao Ethnic Minority in Yunnan