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She Ethnic Minority


The She ethnic minority, with a population of about 630,378 (as of 1990), mainly lives in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, and some are scattered throughout Jiangxi, Guangdong and Fujian provinces.

They have their own language which belongs to the Miao branch of Miao-Yao Austronesian of the Chinese-Tibetan Phylum. Most Shes speak the Hakka dialect of the Hans when communicating with the outside. Without their own set of characters, they mainly use the Chinese characters.

The She people call themselves Shanha, meaning migrated guest living in a mountain area, for they believe that their ancestors originally lived in the Phoenix Mountains in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province, but left their native place to escape the oppression of their feudal rulers. In the 7th century, their forebears lived and multiplied in the present Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi regions, and were distained as the Man, meaning wild. In the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), they were recognized as She people, which became their official name recorded in documents. After the founding of the PRC in 1949, this ethnic minority was officially named the She ethnic minority.

The She people live in groups, together with the Han people. They are mostly engaged in agriculture, and rice, sweet potatoes, wheat, rape, beans and tobacco are their main products. They also grow tea, sugar cane, and ramie. Timber and bamboo are important commercial commodities for the She.

The Shes like singing. They sing in the fields as well as on special festival occasions, and every year the Shes hold several singing festivals.

Like the Hans, the Shes celebrate the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Qingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-autumn Festival and the Double-Ninth Festival. In addition, the third day of the third lunar month is a holiday on which no work is done. Ancestor worship is the center of another festival on the 15th day of February, July and August of the lunar calendar.

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