History of the Blang

Records show that the ancestors of the Blang people can be traced back to the ancient Pu tribe who were believed to be the earliest people to settle in the Lancang and Nujiang river valleys since at least the Qin Dynasty, about 2,200 years ago. This is why they are considered (with the Wa and the Deang, with whom they share ancestry), to be one of the aboriginal peoples of southwest Yunnan.

When the Yizhou County was established in the Yunnan Province during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the Pu people were brought under the control of the Han Empire. In the Tang and Song periods (618-1279), the Pu area was governed by the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms, and the Pu people was called Puziman.

During the Ming Dynasty they started neglecting hunting and harvesting and took up farming. Differences between Bulang living in one region and those in another increased as some Bulang were influenced by the Han culture and others by Dai culture.

Literature from those days refers to the Blang as follows:

"They are dark-skinned and live on the mountain peaks. Clothing, weddings and funerals are as the Bai Luoluo".

"They ride horse without bridle; they walk bare-footed and are good archers".

"They live on the mountain peaks where they cultivate the land, burn the mountain and cut the trees. Every field is cultivated for several years."

During the Qing dynasty, most of the Blang had already settled in a territory roughly the same as their current location. Though nominally subdued, they stirred up revolts several times against the Tusi and the emperors. The most important uprising was in 1861, when the Blang from Mojiang joined the Hani who were already in rebellion against imperial rule. This uprising lasted for seven or eight years.

As a consequence of constant contact between the Pu tribe and the Han as well as their amalgamation into the Han state, these people gradually evolved into the present Blang group.

Before 1949, there were fairly big social differences.

In the regions of Lincang and Simao there was a strong feudal system. They had lost the previous communal ownership of the land (except for the cemeteries), and had devolved into a private property system that handed over vast amounts of land to landowners who rented it out to peasants at exorbitant rates. During the years of the Republic of China, the Bai-Jia system was introduced in this area, in order to better control the minorities living in the mountains.

In Xishuangbanna, they were still in the last stages of an earlier societal system, but also at the beginning of a rising feudalism. Their economic growth was much slower. Under Dai rule, they appointed hereditary chiefs, known as "Ba", who ruled over several small villages and collected taxes for the Tusi.

These small villages, which were made up of between 20 to 100 families, had communal property over farmlands, forests and pastures. But even though they all had the right to work the land, nobody had the right to sell any portion of the common property.

After liberation in 1949, following consultation with the ethnic group, it was officially named the Blang ethnic minority.

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