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An old resident of the Awa Mountain

The Wa nationality is one of the minority nationalities of China. Now it has a population of more than 350,000. It mainly distributes over mountain area or half-mountain area of Cangyuan, Ximeng, Lancang, Menglian, Shuangjiang, Genma, Yongde, Zhenkang counties in the Southwestern Yunnan, which is the "Awa mountain area" between the Lancangjiang River and Sa'erwenjiang River and in the south of the Nushan mountain chain. They live together with the Hans, Dais, Blangs, De'angs, Lisus, and Lahus.

The Was call themselves "Wa", "Baraoke", "Buraoke", "Awa", "Awo", "Awalai", "Lewa", etc. Others call them "La", "Ben people", "Awa", "Kawa", etc. They were called "Hala", "Hawa", and "Kawa" in history, which means "people living in mountains". The name "Wa" was fixed according to their own will in 1962.

Village of the WasThe Was have their own language and characters. The Wa language belongs to Mon-Khmer branch of the Austro-Asiatic language family, and is divided into three dialects: "Baraoke", "Awa" and "Wa". The old Wa character was created by British missionaries for the purpose of propagating Christianity and was comparatively rough. After the new China was founded, the Party and the people's government created new characters for them. 

Agriculture is the main economy for the Was. They like to eat red rice, drink strong tea, eat chili, chew betel nut and drink watery wine. Their house is mostly two-storey bamboo building. The main color of their traditional clothes is black. Men often wrap head with black cloth, and wear black short garment and trousers with wide bottom. An elderly Wa womanWomen's clothes are varied in different places. The most characteristic dress is wearing sleeves pullover without collar and tube-shaped skirt decorated with silver or bamboo strip head hoop, neckband, necklace, waist hoop, bracelet, etc.

The Was mainly believe in primitive religion. A few believe in Buddhism or Christianity. New Rice Festival is the grandest festival. Their literature and art are rich and colorful, and the bamboo culture has special characters. The Cangyuan cliff painting enjoys a good fame all over the world.

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