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De'ang Nationality: An Ethnic Group Good At Growing Tea

De’ang group has a population of about 16,400, most of whom live in Santaishan Mt. area of Lushi (Mangshi), Dehong Prefecture, and Zhenkang County of Lincang Municipality. Deangs share the some ancestors with Was and Bulangs, who were called “Pu” in the Han and Jin Dynasties; they were called “Benglong” in the Qing Dyansty; but they claimed to be “De’ang” or “Da’ang”. In 1985, they were officially named De’ang Nationality.

The language of De’ang belongs to De’ang Branch in Mon-Khmer Family of South Asian Language System. Since De’ang get along with Dais, Hans, and Jingpos, they majority can speak Dai, Han and Jingpo languages. Without a written language, they have employed the characters of Han and Dai.

Most of De’ang people believe in Hinayana Buddhism, so Buddhist temples could be found in most villages. They have a long history of planting and thus are quite experienced growers; they are deemed as “the Ancient Tea Growers”. De’ang men usually wear black coats and loose trousers; women like to have their hair shaved, and then wrap the heads with black cloth; they wear big earrings, thick silvery necklaces, blue or black overcoats, and rattan waistbands; the colors of their skirts vary from branch to branch. De’ang people have the custom of tattooing, usually on legs and on chests with patterns of flowers, grass, tigers, deer, birds and scriptures or incantations in Dai characters. They have gotten used to chewing tobacco and reed seeds for the sake of protecting the teeth. The major festivals are Water Splashing Festival, Opening Door and Closing Door Festivals that originate from their Buddhist tales.