The Wa nationality has a population of 360,200,
living in Cangyuan, Gengma, Shuangjiang, Zhengkang counties of
Loncang Prefecture, and Ximeng, Menglian, Lancang counties of
simao Prefecture. Cangyuan and Ximeng are the two counties where
the Was live in compact communities. The Was are the descendents
of the Pu people. They were called "Wangman", "guci" and "Kawa" in
the Tang ,Ming and Qing dynasties respectively. But they called
themselves "Wa", "Bu rao ke" and "Ah-Wa ". After Liberation, they
were named the Wa nationality of their own will.
Their language, which includes four dialects, belongs to the
Mon-Khmer Branch of the southern Aisian Language Family, (Wa-deang
Branch). Before Liberation, they used wood-cutting, bean-counting
and rope-knotting for record and notation. And they expressed
their emotions by sending different objects. for example, sending
chilies to another village denoted indignation, while sugar canes
and salt meant friendship.
The majority of the Wa
people believe in primitive religion, but those from the Cangyuan
region believe in Hinayana Buddhism. Before Liberation, religious
activities like "Pulling Wooden drum" and "Cutting Oxen Tails"
were held in Ximeng. The Wa people regard the wooden drum as a
religious tool that has exceptional power. It they carry it back
to their village and offer sacrifices by butchering oxen, they
could expect god to bless them with a good harvest and a happy
life. therefore, every Wa village has a wooden drum house.
The costumes of the Wa people are unique, characterized by those
in the Ximeng region, They like black clothes with red decoration.
The women usually wear short black collarless coats that just
reach the upper part of the belly, and skirts with red, blue and
black stripes. They wear long hair, silver hoops on their heads,
big earrings, thick necklaces and colorful strings of beads on
their chests. The naked parts of their bellies and legs are
decorated with rattan hoops. The men wear black or red turbans,
black collarless short coats, and loose trousers, with swords on
their waists. Most of them are bare-footed. Some wear earrings,
silver necklaces and bracelets as well.
people are fond of singing and dancing. Their dances are rich on
content and varied in form, overflowing with enthusiasm. the
popular dances are "Circular Dance ", "Wood Drum dance", "Rice
Husking Dance", and "Hair-Swinging Dance".