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The Mulao people (; own name: ''Mulam'') are an
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation ...
. They form one of the 56
ethnic groups An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation ...
officially recognized by the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6& ...
. In their name, ''Mulam'', ''mu''6 is a classifier for human beings and ''lam''1 (in some dialects it is ''kyam''1) is another form of the name used by the Dong (''Kam''), to whom the Mulao people are ethnically related. A large portion of the Mulao in Guangxi live in Luocheng Mulao Autonomous County of Hechi, Guangxi, China.


History

It is believed that the Mulao are the descendants of the ancient ''Ling'' and ''Liao'' tribes that inhabited the region during the time of the Jin dynasty (266–420), Jin Dynasty. During the Yuan dynasty, the Mulao lived in a feudal society and they paid a series of tributes twice a year to the emperor. During the Qing dynasty, Qing Dynasty, their territories suffered an administrative division; their lands were divided into ''dongs'', which were composed of units for 10 dwellings. Each ''dong'' had its own local leader, responsible for maintaining the order and of collecting the taxes. Each ''dong'' was generally formed by families that shared the same surname. Qiongying Deng and Chuan-Chao Wang et al. have reported that most of the patrilineal and matrilineal gene pools of Mulao are characteristic lineages of Southern China. Some ancient Southeast Asian lineages (Y chromosome haplogroups C and D, mtDNA haplogroups M*, M33, M74 and R*) were also identified in Mulao. Mulao shows patterns of the Y chromosome and mtDNA diversities similar to other southern populations, especially Kam-Sui populations, which was actually in accordance with linguistic classification. However, the origin of Mulao seems to be much more complex. Recent gene flow from Sino-Tibetan populations is detected in the patrilineal side of Mulao, such as Y chromosome haplogroups O3a1c-002611, O3a2c1*-M134 and O3a2c1a-M117, probably through the expansion and dispersal of Han Chinese. From the matrilineal aspect, most mtDNA haplogroups of Mulao also clustered together with Hmong-Mien. Taken together, the origin of Mulao are mainly results of an admixture between surrounding populations with the indigenous Kam-Sui populations.Deng QY*, Wang CC*, Wang XQ*, Wang LX, Wang ZY, Wu WJ, Li H, the Genographic Consortium. Genetic affinity between the Kam-Sui speaking Chadong and Mulam people. J Syst Evol. 2013, 51(3):263-270.


Language

The Mulao speak the Mulam language, a Kra–Dai languages, Tai–Kadai language that uses Chinese characters, Hanzi (Chinese characters) when written.


Culture

Traditionally, the marriages among the Mulao were arranged by the parents and traditionally, new wives did not live together with their new husbands until the birth of their first son. Their homes are made out of clay with brick roofs and are composed of three rooms. The animals are maintained far away of the family dwellings. The traditional clothing of the men consists of a jacket of large buttons, wide pants and sandals. The single women arranged their hair into two tresses that become a tuft when they are married.


Religion

Although the religion no longer plays a main role in the daily life, traditionally the Mulao have been mostly animists. Each month they celebrated diverse festivals. The most important one of them was the festival ''Yifan'', where diverse sacrifices of animals were carried out. Another one of their festivals was the dragon boat festival that was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. During this celebration, the shamans carried out ceremonies to assure good crop harvests and to expel harmful insects.


References

* Ramsey, S. Robert. 1987. The Languages of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey {{authority control Ethnic groups officially recognized by China