Nu people

Template:Ethnic group

The Nu people (Chinese: 怒族; pinyin: n z) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. Their population of 27,000 are divided into the Northern, Central and Southern groups. Their homeland is a country of high mountains and deep ravines crossed by the Lancang, Dulong and Nujiang rivers, and thi area is rich in natural minerals. The name "Nu" comes from the fact that they were living near the Nujiang river, and the name of their ethnic group derives from there.

The Nu live mainly in Yunnan province. 90% of them are found in Gongshan, Fugong, Laping and Bijiang counties in Yunnan Province, along with Lisu, Drung, Tibetan, Nakhi, Bai and Han. There is also a sparse distribution of Nu in Weixi County in the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Zayu County in Tibet Autonomous Region, particularly at the border between Yunnan and Tibet.

The Nu do not have a written language of their own, although the Chinese government have recently helped them to develop a script based on the Latin alphabet.



Linen clothes are popular among both sexes. The womenfolk generally wore linen or cotton tunics with sleeves, which are buttoned on the left and long skirts. The younggirls often wear aprons over their tunics. They like to wear necklaces strung with colored plastic beads. Some wear head or chest ornaments with strings of coral, agates, shells and silver coins. They wear big copper earrings that hang to the shoulder. The menfolk often put on linen sleeved tunics over shorts, and almost every man wears a string of coral on his left ear and hangs a machete from the left side of his waist. When they go out, they often carry machetes, bows, and arrow bags made from animal felt, which make them looks chivalrous and heroic. They also wear black turbans wrapped around their head, though they tend to keep ear-length haircuts.


The Nu built their houses near the mountains made out either of baboo-slips or wooden planks, though houses made out of the latter type is more prevalent due to its better strength. Within the house there are two stories; the lower floor acts as a barn, where livestock, food, and other storag are placed, while the upper floor consists of the living quuarters. In the second floor, it is further sub-divided into the inner and outer rooms. The inner room is used as a bedroom as well as a storeroom, while the outer one, is as a kitchen and guestroom.

Agriculture is their main occupation. Bamboo and wooden farm tools were the tools for planting, and major crops include maize, buckwheat, barley, potatoes, yams and beans. Output was low, as chemical fertilizers is not used and primitive crop-planting are used. The annual grain harvest was some 100 kg short of the per capita need, and the diet was supplemented by hunting and fishing.

Religion and Culture

The Nu are adherents of Tibetan Buddhism and their tribal Animism, which has close affinities with the natural world. Of late, a small minority have convert to Christianity as well. Lamaism is mainly professed by the Northern Nu, although Christianity has made some inroads into the southern group. However, most of the southern and central groups have retained their Animist faith to date.

The Nu celebrate mainly the tribal flower-fairy festival, which is mainly celebrated by the Nu in the Gongshan area of Yunnan province. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the festival comes on the 15h of March annually and lasts three days. The festival is based on the legend that the Nu River often flooded in ancient times. A Nu girl named A-Rong, inspired by the web of a spider, created a kind of rope-bridge, by which the people could conveniently cross the river. Coveting the beauty of A-Rong, the chief of the Hou tribe tried to force her to marry him time and time again. However, A-Rong wouldn't agree, so she escaped into the mountains and eventually turned into a stone statue in a cave. To honor her, the Nu people celebrate Fairy Festival on March 15th every year.

Upon the arrival of the festival, the people will pick bunches of azaleas and sacrifice the fairy maiden at a cave, literally known as Fairy People Cave. After the ceremony, the people drink together at home, and people of all ages will dress up in their best traditional costumes, hold fresh flowers. They will gather together in the open air, singing, dancing, and telling stories. Ball matches akin to football matches, bow and arrow competitions are held as well.

Another festival is the Jijilamu festival, the spring festival which lasts about 15 days from the end of lunar December to the beginning of lunar January. It is mainly celebrated by the Nu living in Bijiang, Fugong, Gongshan, Lanping and Weixi counties of Yunnan Province, although Losar is also celebrated by the Tibetan Buddhist Nu.

On the eve of the festival, households in every village are busy butchering pigs, making soft-rice dumplings, brewing wine and cleaning their courtyards, similar to the Chinese New Year. On New Year's Eve, before eating, they put corn and dishes of food on a three-legged barbecue. On top of the three legs, three cups are put and also three pieces of meat, then the family members, either young or old, pray for a good harvest and strong livestock for the upcoming New Year.

External Links

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  • The Nu ethic group (

Chinese ethnic groups (classification by PRC government)

Achang - Bai - Blang - Bonan - Buyei - Chosen - Dai - Daur - De'ang - Derung - Dong - Dongxiang - Ewenki - Gaoshan - Gelao - Gin - Han - Hani - Hezhen - Hui - Jingpo - Jino - Kazak - Kirgiz - Lahu - Lhoba - Li - Lisu - Man - Maonan - Miao - Monba - Mongol - Mulao - Naxi - Nu - Oroqen - Pumi - Qiang - Russ - Salar - She - Sui - Tajik - Tatar - Tu - Tujia - Uygur - Uzbek - Va - Xibe - Yao - Yi - Yugur - Zang - Zhuang

es:Nu (etnia)



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