The Shui of China
Local records speak of "sixteen shui," referring to the many interlocking rivers and lakes which lie at the foot of the mountains. Each shui (body of water) originally had a large barricaded village and other smaller settlements on its banks. Today, Shui villages can still be found among the hills, alongside a network of streams.
Sui is the language of the Shui and belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family. Since this ancient language is used only in worship, Han Chinese is the language most commonly used.
What are their lives like?
By the time of the Ming dynasty (Mongolian rule lasting from 1279 to 1368), many of the Shui had become wet-rice farmers. In addition to rice, they also raise wheat, rape seed, ramie, and several types of fruit. Rice and fish, along with corn, barley, and sweet potatoes, are the staple foods that make up the their diet. While a majority of the Shui are farmers, some work as lumberjacks or fishermen. Others produce cloth for the national market.
The Shui often boast of the wealth of arts and colorful oral literature they possess. Their literature includes poetry, legends, and fairy tales. They are also very good dancers. The "Lusheng Dance" and the "Copper Drum Dance" are the most popular and are enjoyed by all on festive occasions. Traditional musical instruments include gongs, drums, lusheng, huqin, and suona horns. They are also known for their fine handicrafts such as embroideries, batiks (fabric paintings), paper cuts, and wood carvings.
The Shui are very proud of their identity. A traditional woman's costume consists of black and blue embroidered dress with a white head-wrap. The Shui always wear their costumes, even while working in the fields. This clearly distinguishes them from other peoples in the area.
Monogamy is practiced among the Shui, and marriages are usually arranged by the parents. This is done partly so that their status within the society will be preserved.
Their most important festival is the Duan Festival, which is celebrated each September after the crops have been harvested. A few days before the festival, the music of reedpipes and bronze drums can be heard in each village. To welcome the spirits of the ancestors, they thoroughly clean their houses and carefully wash the kitchen utensils. They neither eat meat nor use animal fat to cook during the festival. Early in the morning on the day of the festival, young people dress in their best clothes and gather for activities such as horse races and a dragon dance. On the evening of the festival, after offering sacrifices to their ancestors, whole families sit together for a feast.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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