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The homeland of peacocks

In the west of Yunnan Province China, there is a beautiful piece of land, which is named Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture.

Customs of Achang

Pubdate:2009-06-01

 

  

       Achang men tend to wear blue, white or black jackets which button down the front, although on the Lasa plain many men wear jackets with buttons toward the left side. Achang women like to wear silver objects on festive occasions. Their clothes vary somewhat depending on where they live, but in general married women wear skirts and jackets with tight sleeves and wrap their heads with black or blue cloth that may go as high as three decimeters. Unmarried women wear trousers and tie their pigtails on top of their heads. Although the habit is disappearing, young men and women used to chew areca, blackening their teeth. For food, Achangs eat rice as their staple and prefer sour dishes. They live in courtyard houses of brick or stone with wood beam supports. Achang villages are connected by gravel paths or roads paved with stone slabs.

  The basic unit of the Achang society is the patriarchal, monogamous family. Young men and women are free to choose their spouses. Courting rituals are quite specific. When dusk falls, young men go to bamboo groves near the homes of the young women they desire and play the sheng to win their favor. In some places, groups of young men and women gather around a bonfire, where couples flirt by singing alternate verses. This can go on until dawn. Before 1949, marriages were arranged by parents, which often led to forced marriage and misery for unlucky young lovers. The Achangs have a strict incest taboo: people with the same surname do not marry each other. But intermarriage with Hans and Dais has always been permitted.

  Under the Han influence, Achangs generally practice ancestor worship. Most Achangs on the Fusa plain believe in Hinayana, a branch of Buddhism.

  Achangs generally bury their dead. In Buddhist areas, funerals are scheduled on holy days and follow the chanting of scripture by monks. One monk leads the funeral procession. As he walks, he holds a long strand of white cloth tied to the coffin, as if he were guiding the dead into the "Heavenly Kingdom." The coffin is to be carried above the heads of the close relatives of the dead, figuratively providing the deceased with a "bridge" to cross the river to the netherworld. The dead are buried without their metal ornaments; even the gold coatings on false teeth must be removed to make sure nothing will contaminate their reincarnation. Those who die of infectious diseases or childbirth are cremated.