Population and Distribution:
With a population of about 16,178,811, the Zhuang ethnic minority is the largest minority group in China with a long history and glorious culture. Over 90 percent of the Zhuang people live in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The rest of the Zhuang people reside in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan Provinces.
Language and Character:
The Zhuang ethnic minority has a language of its own that belongs to the Zhuang-Dai branch of Zhuang-Dong Austronesian (an austronesian belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages). The language is divided into two dialects although they have few differences.
Chinese characters were used before 1955 for writing, however since 1957, a writing system based on the Latin alphabet has been created with the help of the Chinese government. The Latin alphabet has been adopted to publish many books. Since then, the Zhuang ethnic minority has had their own language. In the year of 1982, the Zhuang language was revised and has been greatly used among the Zhuang people.
Since the ancient times, the Zhuang people have had numerous kinds of beliefs. They believe in the propagation, the totem, and their ancestors. Now, most of them are polytheists, believing the power of many inanimate things in nature, such as giant trees, high mountains, cavity, the earth, the sun, water and so on. Sacrifice activities are usually held because of their beliefs of being blessed by the divinity and to prevent all kinds of disasters.
Food and Food Culture:
The Zhuang people's primary products are tropical and subtropical crops such as rice and corn due to the mild climate and abundant rainfall. The people eat all kinds of meat, including beef, mutton, pork and chicken, etc. The vegetables of their daily life are of various kinds. Poached and pickled vegetables are the favored ones.
The Zhuang people are so hospitable that any guests are honored by the whole village. Wine is a must when treating the guests. Guests are shown a unique way of drinking each others wine in the spoon by crossing each other's arms. The elder person is shown respect by nobody eating before him or her.
Besides sharing similar festivals with the Han, the Zhuang minority has its unique ones including: the Devil Festival, the Ox Soul Festival, and the Singing Festival.
Other cultures such as frescoes and bronze drums are also of splendid fame.
The Zhuang minority's frescoes carved on the steep cliffs are of extreme Zhuang characteristics. Figures, beasts and some other patterns carved 2,000 years ago will make everyone appreciate the image of the Zhuang's ancestors and the superb technique.
The bronze drum used both in sacrifice and festivals, delivers a special culture of the Zhuang ethnic minority. On the top and sides of the drums, the sun, frogs, dragon, dancing women and other patterns are decorated. It is a great revelation of their worship to the sun and frog. Nowadays, the bronze drum has become an indispensable musical instrument for the festivals.