TheYaoethnic minority has a long history and is a typical mountainous ethnic group in southernChina. It mainly resides in the mountainous regions in several southern provinces in China. Yaos are mainly engaged in agriculture, adopting crop rotation, and concurrently do hunting, fishery and collection. The handicraft sector there is well developed. The Yao areas produce high quality red rice and medical herbs.
Yaos in the mountains have the habit of eating cool food. All food is made in consideration of being easy to carry and store. Therefore,Zongba(glutinous rice dumpling) and bamboo tube rice become their favorite food.
The common vegetables for them include melons, beans, pakchoi, radish, chili, bamboo shoots, mushroom, jelly fungi, common brake, Chinese toon, and daylily, etc. The Yao areas also abound in various fruits. The vegetables are often processed into dried vegetables or pickles.
Yaos like salted food.Niaocuis a well-known special food ofYaos. It is made of salted bird meat. They pluck off the feather, clean and dry the bird, mix it with rice noodles and salt, put it in a jar, and seal the mouth with banana leaves. It is ready to serve after several days. Yaos often use the food to entertain honorable guests. Sometimes they also use the method to process pork, beef and mutton.
Yaos also like pupas. They often eat pine pupa, kudzuvine pupa, wild bee pupa and bee pupa. They also like to make cane sugar, sweet potato sugar and honey sugar, etc.
MostYaoslike drinking wine, and boiling tea with cinnamon bark and alpinia japonica. They think the tea has refreshing effect and can ease fatigue.
There are many interesting dietetic customs. For instance, a man carries a package of meat and two calabashes of rice wine to propose a marriage to a girl. The girl's side accepts the meat if agrees, and pierces the calabashes if not. The girl's side often hides an egg and observes the behaviors of applicants to choose husband for the girl. Girls should distribute burned soybeans to neighbors when getting married. The divorce ceremony is called cutting bamboo tubes. Both sides carry a tube of wine, exchange and drink it up, break the tube, and peacefully say goodbye to each other.
Yaos worshipingPanhuabstain from eating dogs and turtles; those worshipingMiluotuoabstain from eating sow meat and eagles; most Yaos abstain from eating pork and snakes; women in the first several days after childbearing abstain from eating pork fat; it is forbidden to use dogs, cats, snakes or frogs as sacrifice to the God; after hunting an animal, they must offer the preys to the mountain god first before cutting and eating them.