Wa nationality is one of the ethnic minorities in China and Myanmar. The national language is the Wa language, belonging to the German branch of the mon Khmer language family in South Asia. There is no common writing. People use material objects and wood carvings to record events, count or transmit messages.
Wa people mainly live in Cangyuan, Ximeng, Menglian, Gengma, Lancang, Shuangjiang, Zhen Kang, and Yongde counties in Southwest Yunnan Province of China, and Wa and Shan state in Myanmar. In China, there are also some Wa people scattered in Baoshan City, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Kunming City, and Dehong Dai Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture.
The traditional festivals created by Wa people mainly include the new Fire Festival, sowing Festival, and new rice Festival.
The new Fire Festival is a New Year Festival of the Wa people, full of the color of "farewell to the old and welcomes the new". Every December of the lunar calendar or January of the next year, under the command of the elderly, every family in the village extinguishes the fire in the fire pond and holds a ceremony of "sending the old fire away". Then they go to Shenshan to get a new kind of fire by "drilling wood for fire", and take it to the elderly's home to burn a big fire, and each family takes the new fire back to use. In the view of Wa people, the new Fire Festival is the end of the disaster, hunger, and disease, and the beginning of auspiciousness, food, and health.
The sowing Festival is held before and after the 15th day of March every year. Before sowing, the leader should call the elders of the village to kill the chickens to see the hexagram. After choosing the auspicious day and offering sacrifices to the soul of the valley, all families begin to sow in the field. In the evening, everyone around the fire pond to eat, drink wine, and then to the square singing swap, praying for good weather, harvest.
The new rice Festival is held in the middle of August every year. When the grain began to ripen, the leader called on the prestigious elders to agree on an auspicious day. Before the festival, young and middle-aged men in the village have to build roads and bridges, while women clean and wash clothes. On the day of the festival, every family went to the fields to pick a few ears of corn, and then they were unified to the head family who hosted the festival. Then they killed chickens, slaughtered pigs, filtered water wine, and cooked glutinous rice. After the rice was cooked, the headman read a toast and read the chicken divination. Everyone began to eat and drink water wine to celebrate the harvest. When night falls, men, women, old and young gather in the square to sing and dance.
Respecting the elderly is the moral standard of all nationalities, and Wa is no exception. The Wa People's maxim "Granagrayan" means "filial piety is courtesy", which reflects the important moral norms of the Wa people. The Wa people are proud of respecting their elders and showing filial respect for their words and deeds. If the old people lose their labor force, their children will bear the maintenance expenses or produce for them. After the death of the old man, there is also a gift for the dead.
Because of the hardship of reproduction and the backwardness of medicine and health, life in the AWA mountain is fragile and precious. Therefore, the Wa people pay special attention to the care and rearing of children. The Wa People's maxim "Gramograhong" means "love is courtesy", which is mainly reflected in the care and nurturing of children. During the growth of Wa children, their parents will hold two child-rearing ceremonies when their children are on the full moon and when they are five years old. Later, they will take the children to various banquets to learn "Awali" and let them know that a better life depends on labor. In daily life, WA people taboo beating and scolding children, because it will not only hurt children's bodies but also scare away children's souls.
Wa people eat rice as their staple food, and they also eat small red rice, corn, and beans.
Meat is mainly domestic livestock, including cattle, chickens, and pigs. Wild boar, muntjac, beaver, pheasant, and birds are hunted in their leisure time. There are many kinds of vegetables, such as bamboo shoots, green vegetables, cucumbers, wax gourds, peppers, and wild vegetables.
Wa's diet is relatively simple, generally eating rotten rice, two or three meals a day. In the past, the Wa people used to grab food with their hands, but now they use chopsticks and spoons.
Wa people like to drink. They boil the red rice and mix it with wine medicine for fermentation. After about half a month, they put it in a bamboo tube and mix it with cold water to make water wine. There is a saying of Wa people that "no wine, no ceremony, no words".
Wa people also like to drink bitter tea, smoke grass and chew betel nut.
Clothes & Accessories
The clothing of Wa people varies from place to place.
The traditional men's clothing of Wa Nationality in Ximeng is a collarless jacket with short and fat trousers wrapped around the head with black or red cloth. The necks of young men are usually decorated with bamboo or rattan rings. Women wear black collarless short clothes, straight skirts, silver hoops or bamboo hoops, silver collars and string beads as chest ornaments, rattan rings at waist and neck, and silver bracelets and big earrings.
Cangyuan Wa People's men's clothing is a round neck and cardigan top. The trousers are short and bulky, and the head is wrapped with black or red cloth. Women take long hair as beauty, wear silver or aluminum earrings and collars, wear a round collar, narrow sleeves, right lapel, cardigan, chest ornaments with several rows of silver bubbles, and wear a straight skirt with a variety of patterns.
The clothing of Wa Nationality in Yongde and Zhen Kang is basically the same as that of Han nationality.