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Ethnic Groups

Hunan is a province with rich national customs thanks in part  to its colorful, vibrant and exciting ethinic groups, among which the Han population accounts for 89.9 percent of the total , while the population of other ethnic groups accounts for 10.1 percent. The population of other ethnic groups include Tujia withmore than 2.6 million, Miao withmore than 1.9 million, Dong with more than 800,000, and Yao, with  more than 700,000.

Each group has its own folk customs, distinctive handicrafts, notably embroidery and cross-stitch work.

Tujia Ethnic Minority

The Tujia people are well known for their custom of a crying marriage, which they view as a necessary marriage procedure. The bride may cry in different ways with diversified words, which is also called "Crying Marriage Song"; the somewhat exaggerated singing helps to enhance the wedding atmosphere. Crying at a wedding is a customary and slightly comedic way to set off the happiness of the wedding, via falsely sorrowful words.

Miao Ethnic Minority

Miao people wear complicated and finely worked silver headdresses and ornaments. It's long been the custom for them to decorate themselves from head to toe with silver. A full set can weigh up to ten kilograms. Since the silver ornaments are a symbol of wealth, a girl's family will start saving up for her right from the moment she's born. The most valuable item she'll ever own is the headdress, which by tradition, is decorated with phoenixes. In fact, the patterns on her headdress range from ancient totems to historical legends.

Yao Ethnic Minority

The Yao have such unique styles of dress that various communities are often quite different from one another. The ancient Yao preferred "five-colored clothes".

The Yao practice an interesting, ancient cooperation called "singing-while-digging". While the group is working, a young man stands out in the fields, beating a drum and leading the singing. Everyone sings after him.

The Yaos have intriguing marriage customs. With antiphonal singing as a major means of courting, youngsters choose lovers by themselves, and get married with the consent of the parents on both sides. However, the bridegroom's family must pay a sizeable amount of silver dollars and pork, as betrothal gifts to the bride's family.

Dong Ethnic Minority

Men usually wear short jackets with front buttons. In the mountainous localities in the south, collarless skirts and turbans are worn. Females are dressed in skirts or trousers with beautifully embroidered hems. Women wrap their legs and heads in scarves, and wear their hair in a coil.

One of the Dongs favorite trees is tea-oil producing camellia trees. Serving guests with oil-tea is the traditional way the Dong people show hospitality. Another favorite tree of this ethnic group is fir, which is grown very extensively. When a child is born, the parents begin planting fir saplings for their baby.

Many popular legends and poems, covering a wide spectrum of themes, have been handed down, from generation to generation, by the Dongs.