12. Chinese Nationalities (Bouyei Minority) (Buoyi) (Buoyei) -- Minorities by Descending Populations
Bouyei Lady Bouyei Village Bouyei Lady
Bouyei Ladies Bouyei Village Bouyei Lady

The Bouyei people were the aboriginal dwellers on the southeast Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. They evolved from the ancient "Luoyue" and "Liao" people. They have been variously known as the Dujunman (Dunjun barbarian) during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms and subsequently as "Zhongmiao", "Zhongjia", and "Bafan" during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Throughout these periods they always referred to themselves as "Buyi" or "Burao". With the founding of the PRC in 1949, following consultation with the ethnic group it was decided to agree upon the official name of Bouyei ethnic group.

The Bouyei people have their own language, which belongs to the Zhuang-Dai branch of the Zhuang-Dong group of the Chinese-Tibetan family. This language has no traditional written form and Han characters are widely used, although a written system based upon the Latin minbet was created with government assistance after 1949. The Bouyei, sometimes spelled Bouyei or Bouyi, live near the Huangguoshu Falls in the Zhenning, Bouyei, and Miao Autonomous County in Guizhou Province. We visited there. See our trip there on our excursions menu. The Bouyei favor river valleys and it is prime water county. The Bouyei are the "aboriginals" of Guizhou. The people are of Thai origin and related to the Zhuangs in Guangxi. They number two million, mostly spread over the southwestern sector of Guizhou Province. Bouyei dress is dark and somber with colorful trimmings; 'best' clothes come out on festival or market days. The Bouyei marry early, usually at 16, but sometimes as young as 12. Married women are distinguished by headgear symbols. The Bouyei people can also be shy and suspicious of foreigners. They have a similar way of life to the Miao and their language is closely related to those of the Zhuang and Dai. They practice polytheism and ancestor worship.

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