Life Style of Shui Ethnic Minority

The Shui people are one of the ethnic minority groups in China, primarily residing in the Guizhou, Guangxi, and Yunnan provinces. They have a distinct culture, language, and traditions that have been preserved over centuries. Here’s a brief overview of their cultural aspects based on your description:

Dress and Adornment:

  • The Shui people have traditional clothing that usually features dark colors like black and blue.
  • Men typically wear long gowns and black turbans.
  • Women wear collarless blue blouses and black trousers with embroidered aprons. For festive occasions, they switch to skirts and adorn themselves with silver jewelry.
  • Women traditionally wear their hair in buns.


  • The Shui diet is dominated by rice and fish, which reflects their living environment, often near rivers and streams.
  • They also consume corn, barley, wheat, and sweet potatoes.
  • A distinctive part of their culture is the rice liquor, which is used both for entertaining guests and in sacrificial ceremonies.


  • Shui houses are practical and can be one or two stories high.
  • In two-storied houses, the living quarters are usually upstairs, while the ground floor is for livestock.

Marriage Customs:

  • Historically, the Shui practiced monogamy and initially allowed young people to choose their partners.
  • Over time, with the rise of a feudal economy, marriages, especially among the wealthy, became more about alliances and were arranged by parents.
  • Wedding traditions involved the bride walking to the groom’s house under an umbrella and returning to her parents’ home shortly after the ceremony.
  • The bride would not live with her husband until about six months into the marriage.
  • Post-1949, with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, many of the feudal practices, including arranged marriages and costly bride prices, were abolished.

Funeral Rites:

  • Traditional Shui funerals were elaborate events with sacrifices and performances.
  • These practices have been simplified since 1949.


  • The Shui are polytheistic and would traditionally employ shamans for prayers and offerings to appease spirits during times of illness, death, or misfortune.
  • Catholicism, introduced in the late Qing Dynasty, had minimal influence on the Shui people.

Calendar and Festivals:

  • The Shui have their own calendar, with the new year starting in the ninth lunar month.
  • Their most significant festival is the “duan” holiday, celebrated with grandeur after the autumn harvest at the beginning of the 11th lunar month.
  • This festival includes horse races, plays, and feasting, with participants wearing their colorful traditional costumes.

The Shui culture, like many other ethnic minorities in Yunnan and other parts of China, is rich in tradition and community spirit. Their festivals, daily life, and social practices offer a window into the diversity and heritage of China’s ethnic mosaic.