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Yunnan Love and Marriage Customs

The most interesting love letter: flowers

Flower is always associated with beautiful things in life. For Aini (爱尼) people in Xishuangbanna, flower means more to them. It is their important tool to express love. Thus, it will be deemed as indecent behavior to touch flowers in the presence of their elder family members, aunt or sister-in-law. Aini people approach love in a very roundabout way. When a young man falls for a young lady, he will send one bunch of flowers to her. If the lady happens to be interested, she will send flowers with odd numbers to him, otherwise, she will send flowers with even numbers.
Aini Ethnic Group's ArchitectureAini Girl in her daily attire
Flowers are used to proposeWedding Day

The most ancient love letter: Laisu(来苏)

Lisu People(傈傈族) still preserves a very ancient love proposal practice called Laishu. When a young man falls for a lady, he will prepare one garlic, some areca and tobacco leafs as well as two long grass leafs. Then, he will wrap them up by one banana leaf and tie it up with one red thread before sending to the lady. Two grass leafs with the same length mean they are equal, one complete garlic means they will love each other forever, areca and tobacco mean he is in love with her crazily and the red thread indicates their love will burn passionately. When the lady is interested with the man, she will eat the areca and tobacco before sending him one pack of local herb tied up with white thread. If not, she will return his “love letter” without hesitation.
Lisu people's wedding CeremonyLisu People's Boji Rice
lisu-minority-wedding-ceremony lisu-minority-wedding-ceremony
LaisuLisu Lady

The strangest marriage proposal: asking for the rice seed

Wa Peple(佤族) in Yunnan usually beat around the bush when propose. When a young man falls for a lady, he will send one matchmaker to speak good for him first. The following day, they will visit the lady’s parents and carry on a conversation like this. The matchmaker will ask: “I hear that the rice seed in your home is very good, can I have some?” If the lady’s parents feel satisfied with this young man, they will say: “We do have some rice seeds, but are not sure if you will like them.” Then, the young man who is listening with all ears will reply eagerly and promptly: “our land is fertile, and I am sure your rice seeds will thrive in my place.” To outsiders, they are talking about agriculture, who knows they are making decisions for their’ children’s marriage.
Wa Ethnic Group's architectureWa Ethnic Group
Hair DanceMud Festival

The most bizarre Marriage Custom: Qiangqin (Kidnap Marriage)

In Lianghe County(梁河县),Yunnan, a very bizarre and “uncivilized ” marriage custom called “Qiangqin” prevail among the Achang People(阿昌族): when an Achang young man loves an Achang lady, he will raid into the girl’s home and take her away as a bride. 

Qiangqin varies slightly among three different situations:

The first situation: an Achang young man and an Achang lady love each other, but their parents do not agree to their marriage.
They will agree upon a date of “qiangqin”. On this day the man will arrive at the lady’s home during middle night and take her way swiftly. The lady will shout loud, so their parents will know she has been taken away. Since her parents are totally unprepared, this approach has been proved to be very effective.
Qiangqin: "rob" a girl as a brideFamily Photo of Achang People
Achang Bride on Wedding CeremonyAchang Girl

The second situation: a Achang lady has a lover already, but her parents have another arrangement for her. To solve this problem, these two men will decide upon a “Qiangqin” date and compete to take away this lady meanwhile. The winner will get the girl.

The third Situation: A young man and a young lady love each other from the beginning, but the girl has changed her mind during the process. This young man who still loves her will visit her home unexpectedly and take her away to be his bride. The nest day, he will take her to his relative’s home which is usually faraway to tide over this tough period until her parents have no objection at all. This may sounds very unbelievable to us, but Achang people has given permit to this approach for the past thousands of years.

The most interesting divorce certificate: wood piece

The Yi people(彝族人) who occupy the mountainous area of Chuxiong, Yunnan province, have obeyed a strange and less-known divorce routine since time immemorial. When the married couples do not love each other anymore, they can divorce. Rather than go to court, they negotiate privately. They will engrave the Chinese character “调” on one piece of pine tree branch and cut it into two. Each will hold one as a proof that their relationship has ended successfully and there is no room for regret.

The most graceful way to express love: use pipa and mouth string

At the early stage of love, Nu people(怒族) do not communicate with language as we do, but with pipa and mouth string. They have developed a secret and recognized music language which can be used to convey emotions as well as to discuss certain issues. Thus, they can communicate very smoothly and some lovers even enter into marriage in this way without saying a word to each other.
Family Photo of Nu peopleNu people live in very remote and steep areas near Hegnduan Mountain, they use rope to cross the river
Nu people use pipa and mouth string to express their loveFairy Festival of Nu people

The most thrift wedding: labor

Axi people( 阿细人), one branch of Yi Ethnic Group(彝族), hold totally different values on select their potential marriage partners. For an Axi girl, a hard-working man is their top choice. They will spend several days together do laboring work in each other’s home before deciding to marry each other or not.
Axi people, one branch of Yi MinorityAxi men paint themselves before performing the Fire Sacrifice Ritual
One Axi man is performing the Fire Sacrifice RitualHard-working man is always Axi girls' top choice as husband

The most ancient and free love: walking marriage of Mosuo people

Mosuo people who mainly dwell along the enticing and serene Lugu Lake, the last matriarchal land on earth, have clung to a very bewildering custom: walking marriage. This kind of relationship is based on mutual affection and sustained by night vists. External influence such as power and money, seldom step into their way. Children will be raised by woman. When the love is gone, it can be ended.
Mosuo lover never get married, but practice walking marriagePeople in some remote area of sichuan province also practice Walking Marriage
Mosuo man pay night visits to his loverMosuo Lovers

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