In the Wuling Ranges of western Hunan and Hubei provinces, at elevations from 400 to 1,500 meters, dwell 5.71 million (by 2000) people called the Tujias. They live mainly in the Xiangxi Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Exi Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture and some counties in southeastern Hunan and western Hubei.
The Tujia people have their own language which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family. As they have no written script, they use the Chinese characters instead.
The Tujia people called themselves "Bizika", which means "native dwellers". According to records, ancestors of the Tujia people settled down in present western Hunan Province and western Hubei Province as early as 2,000 years age, when they were disdained as the Wulingmans and Wuximans. It was in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that the Tujia ethnic minority had come into being. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, it was officially recognized as the Tujia ethnic minority.
Tujia ethnic minority is affected greatly by the Hans. They are mainly engaged in agriculture. Diligent and courageous, the Tujias have seen rapid development of agriculture, education and public health in the area.
Customs of the Tujias are very much like those of the Hans. Their houses build near water and at the foot of mountains, which is named Diaojiao Tower. Tujia women are good at weaving. "Xi Lan Ka Pu", also known as "Knitting Floral Bedclothes", is the masterpiece of the Tujia crafts. Woven on a simple wooden machine, this kind of brocade, thick and durable, simple but gorgeous, is reputed to be one of the three most famous brocades in southwestern China.
The Tujia people have various beliefs which include shamanism, Taoism, ancestral worship. The "Diaonian Meeting", "Zhongwu Holiday" and "Guozu Festival" are the three most important holidays the Tujia people celebrate in a year.
The area where the Tujias live is a famous scenic spot, with Wulingyuan listed as the World Cultural Heritage in China and Zhangjiajie, the first State Forest Park.