The population of the Lisu nationality is
580,000,half of whom live in compact communities in Nujiang Lisu
Autonomous Prefecture. The rest are scattered in Lijiang, Dehong,
Chong, Chuxiong and Baoshan. Their ancestors were a branch of the
Diqiang people. They were called "Linman", "Shiman" or "Shunman"
in the Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties, and "Lixie" and "Lisu"on the
Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the 8th century, their ancestors
inhabited a wide region along the Yalong River and the Jinsha
River. From the 15th to the to the 19th century, they moved
gradually to the Lancang (Mekong) and the Nujiang valleys.
The Lisu people have their own language, which belongs to the
Tibeto-Burman Branch of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family (Yi
Brach). In 1975,the Chinese Government helped them to create their
new writing system in Latin.
In the course of
production, the Lisu people created their unique Natural Calendar.
That is , they divided a year into flower-Blooming Month (March),
Bird-Singing Month (April). Cultivation Month (May), Hungry Month
(June), Gathering Month (July and August), Harvesting Month
(September and October), Wine Brewing Month (November), Huntong
Month (December), New Year Month (January ) and Construction Month
(February), which were based on the topographical feature and the
climates. Their houses are wood or bamboo houses called "Houses on
Numerous Poles". They kept their system of clans and adopted the
names of animals and plants as clan names, such as tiger, bear,
sheep, snake, chicken, bird, bee, buckwheat, bamboo, flax and tea.
The costumes of the Lisu women are very beautiful. Generally they
wear coats with buttons on the right, and linen trousers with
different colors, They are divided into Black, White and Colorful
braches according to the colors of the clothes they wear. For
example, the Colorful :Lisu wear long skirts with colorful laces,
and colorful turbans. Men usually wear linen gowns or coats,
trousers stretching to the ankles, and turbans, with swords worn
on the left and arrow-bags on the right.
festivals are the Kuoshi Festival (New Year), the Sword Pole
Festival and the Harvesting festival.