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Dijiao Lou,Tujia people's house,literally means “hanging foot building”. Tujia people has always lived mountainous area since ancient times. They build this uique building with two and three floors on the mountain slope.The columns of the first floor do not touch the ground, hence comes the name “hanging foot”. Diaojiaolou is entirely made of wood and with no iron.Diaojiaolou are mostly found in western part of Hunan.
Religions And Beliefs
Nearly 100% of the Tujia now practice ethnic religions. Their beliefs are a mixture of shamanism, Taoism, ancestral worship, and earlier beliefs involving ghosts and evil spirits.
Shamanism is the belief in an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits. Shamans (priests or priestesses) in Hunan are always male, are depended on to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events such as natural disaster, human calamity or other crisis, and in times of childbirth, the tima were called in to perform their rituals in order to seek blessings, break curses, and drive off evil through their rituals. The tima came to be regarded as a powerful elite of “divine humans’ or “Spirit mouthpieces’. Not only were their rituals needed to heal sickness and mitigate the effects of disasters, but they also mediated in civil disputes – as "trouble-shooters." Through a recent research by a British linguist couple, the Tujia was also known to have done child sacrifice during the early days of their history when they were still actively engaged in Shamanism.
Taoism emphasizes moral teachings and collective ceremonies. They believe that good moral conduct is rewarded with health and long life, while bad conduct results in disease, death and suffering in the afterlife.
Ancestor worship is the belief that the spirits of deceased ancestors are alive and must be fed and cared for. These spirits are said to become hungry and dissatisfied when they are not properly appeased, turning into evil spirits.
The Tujia live mainly on agriculture and fish. Industrial crops, such as tung oil and tea are the main economic drivers in the area. Tourism is also popular, driven by scenic spots such as Zhangjiajie, Mt Wuling and Mt. Wudang, which have attracted tens of thousands of people. The natural abundance of the area and its great scenery are indeed a source of pride for the Tujia.
Tujia Food : Not surprisingly, the main staples of the Tujia are rice and corn. Wine, brewed out of glutinous rice and pickled vegetables are common culinary items. During the busy harvest, an additional breakfast is included to indicate the auspiciousness of the occasion.
Crafts and Clothes: Traditional cloth, woven by the Tujia women includes bedspread known as Xilangkapu. They make it colorful with over one hundred patterns. People wear short coat with loose sleeves and flowery chiffons, and men's are also short. Only during grand festivals, will they wear traditional clothes and Tujia clothing for daily life is similar to that of the Han.
The grandest festival is the Tujia Year which is called 'Gannian' or 'Diaonian Meeting', and celebrated one day before the lunar New Year of the Han people. On that day, people prepare for sumptuous dinners and dance together. They also celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, Sheri (on the second day of the second lunar month) and so on.
Traditionally, Tujia women wear jackets trimmed with lace and with short, broad sleeves. They wear long skirts, and wrap their coiled hair in cloth. They adorn themselves with necklaces, earrings, bracelets and ankle bracelets. Tujia men wear short jackets with many buttons in front. The traditional hand-woven "xi" and "tong" cloth with intricate designs are the main material for clothing. In pre-1949 times, the gentry wore furs in winter, while the poor peasants wore thin garments and were cold.
In the old society Tujia chiefs and officials had wooden homes with tiled roofs and carved columns, while ordinary people lived in thatched bamboo-woven houses.
The Tujias had some rather distinctive taboos. Young girls or pregnant women were not permitted to sit on thresholds, while men could not enter a house wearing straw raincoats or carrying hoes or empty buckets. Nor were people allowed to approach the communal fire or say ostensibly unlucky things on auspicious days. Young women were not allowed to sit next to male visitors, although young girls could. At worship ceremonies, cats were kept away as their meowing was considered unlucky.
Although they are dying out as the Tujias become more assimilated, religious beliefs have included Taoism, ancestor worship and a shamanistic belief in gods, ghosts and demons. Formerly, prayers were said before hunting, and when a person died, wizards were invited to expel evil spirits and ghosts from the house.
The Tujias are well-known for a hand dance with over 70 ritual gestures to indicate war, hunting, farming and feasting. The dance is popular at Spring Festival, the Lunar New Year, when several thousand people participate. Tujia epics, which are imaginative, tell of the origins of mankind and of the migrations and aspirations of the Tujias in dramatic and poetic ways. Tujia folksongs are usually about love and work, battles and grief. Virtually all Tujias can compose and sing songs.
Embroidery and weaving stand high among Tujia crafts and their patterned quilts are especially beautiful. The Tujia gunny cloth is valued for its durability.
The cultures of the Tujia include the Nuo drama. Derived from a god-worshipping ceremony, it combines drama, poetry, music and dance into a complicated art and is famed as a living fossil. As such, Tujia culture has caught the eye of experts from home to abroad.