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Dulong Nationality: A Face-Tattooed Tribe

Dulong Nationality, the smallest ethnic group in Yunnan Province, has a population of 5,884. Dulongs live along Dulong River in Northwest Yunnan and have only a spoken language. Most Dulongs can speak Nu language. For a long time, Dulongs have been living harmoniously with the neighboring Nus, Tibetans and Lisus. Dulongs rely mainly on the slashing-and-burning cultivation with fishing, hunting and gathering as the supplementary means of existence.

Tattooed Face: A History Written on the Face
Dulongs live in compact communities in Dulong River Valley and have kept the tattooing custom inherited from the past. Because of this, history books call them “members of a face-tattooed tribe”. This custom is only confined to Dulong women, about which there are various legends. One legend says that it is the symbol of adulthood; another saying goes that it is a protection against the capture by the chieftains of other tribes who dislike disfigured faces; and another saying also goes that it is a way of beautifying oneself. Nowadays, except some elderly women few young Dulong women prefer to tattoo their faces, and it's worried that “the face-tattooed tribe” will disappear with the passage of time.

"Kaquewa": The Only Festival of Dulongs
"Kaquewa”, the New Year Festival of Dulongs which usually lasts for three days, is the only festival held by Dulongs. Since there is no fixed date for this festival, each family or clan can choose the date at will. On this occasion there is a special ox-butchering for sacrificial ceremony to Heaven, the supernatural power worshiped by Dulongs. Dulongs will guard the sacrificial holy-land while singing and dancing all the night, which symbolizes “ring out the Old Year and ring in the New Year”.

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