Traditional Marriage Customs of Hani People

Hani people are hospitable and warm-hearted. When visiting an ordinary Hani family, you will be served with the Hani home-made cigarette pipe. If you are not a smoker, you could decline in a courteous manner.

The Hanis are monogamous. Before 1949, a man was allowed to have a concubine if the wife had born him no son after some years of marriage. However, he was not supposed to forsake his original wife to remarry. Marriages are mostly arranged by the parents.

The Hanis in Mojiang and Biyue have a very interesting custom for settling an engagement. The parents of both the girl and boy involved should walk some distance together, and so long as they meet no animals the engagement can go ahead.

The brides usually return to live with their parents only two or three days after the wedding ceremony and join their husbands again at rice-transplanting time. But this is not practised in the Honghe area.

A son's name begins with the last one or two words of his father's name in order to keep the family line going. This practice has been handed down for as many as 55 generations in some families.

For Hanis, one's uncle (the brothers of mother) is the most senior, so if a baby who does not know its uncle, can not grow well. Therefore there is a very important Hani custom called "recognizing the uncle". On the day to recognize one's uncle, both the mother and young baby get up in the early morning. Mother dresses the baby neatly. The mother should also paint a black mark on the baby's forehead and tie some garlic to the baby's hat, aiming to ward off the evils.

When everything is ready, they set off to the uncle's home. In the mother's bag there are many fried stirred yellow beans, steamed chicken eggs, sticky rice pies. The mother also carries a white umbrellas and a sickle with each of her hand. On the way whoever they meet, regardless of sex, age, nationality or religious belief, the mother will offer some beans and a big smile as gift. Traveling in the Hani region, if you are lucky enough to encounter such a Hani mother, you are advisable to accept her kind offer and give your blessings in return.

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