Minorities by Descending Populations

53. Chinese Nationalities (Hezhen Minority) (Hezhe) - Page 2

The Hezhes have their own language that belongs to the Manchu-Tongusi group of the Altaic language family. Their language has two dialects. As the result of frequent contact with the Hans, Chinese is widely used. Only those who are above 50 years old can still speak the Hezhe language. They do not have a unique system of writing and use Chinese characters for written communication.

The fishing industry is the main source of livelihood for most Hezhes. Old and young, male and female, they are all good at fishing. They have gained superb skills and knowledge in fishing through time-tested experience. They are very familiar with the habits of various fishes and can tell exactly the species of the fish by the ripples it makes. Hunting is another source of income for the Hezhes. People living in the Fujin county considers hunting as their main business with fishing as a part-time income-earning activity.

The Hezhes lived by the three rivers (Songhua, Heilongjiang and Wusuli) for generations. In the past, they lived in crude birch-bark sheds. Now, most of them prefer stone houses with tile roofs. Some Hezhes also live in houses with earthen walls and thatched roofs. The Hezhes often build houses using heated bricks called kangs to keep them warm during winter.

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Hezhen Family