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Culture of Deng people brings extraordinary flavor to snow-covered plateau

By Liu Fang Source:China Tibet News 2017-04-11

Zayul County, located at southeastern part of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, is famed for its featured subtropical climate which fits growing subtropical crops and plants like rice, banana and others. Moreover, the tribe of Deng People in this county carries a distinct culture from that of Tibetan People, and that brings extraordinary flavor to the snow-covered plateau.

A Deng woman was cooking Deng hand pilaf. In sure of the original flavor, all food ingredients and cooking utensils are self-planted and self-made. [China news/ Liu Yin]

According to the statistic in 2012, there are only 1500 Deng people in China. The Deng people group, which has its own language but no character, is not among the 56 listed groups in our country.

Benya, one of the old folks of high prestige in Shaqon Village of the county, is also the only inheritor of Hand-making Deng people dress, a listed intangible cultural heritage in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. As Deng people don’t have calendar, Benya doesn’t know her age.

Benya was looming cloth for a new Deng dress. She was once able to make several dozens suits of Deng dress being a young girl every year, yet nowadays she could only make less than twenty dresses, bags and belts in all. “I have more than ten apprentices, and I really hope this handcraft can be passed down.” [China news/ Liu Yin]

When the reporter from China News met Benya, she was on a traditional Deng dress with Deng silverworks handed down from her ancestors, sitting in the balcony of her wooden house, and making a tight skirt with a piece of self-loomed cloth. “Many years ago, we needed to gather lemongrass for twine, red and black fruits for dye.” Benya said. ”But nowadays, varicolored twines bought from shops in the county are firmer and prettier.”

Deng tribe used to live on slash-and-burn cultivation, and males were usually lumbering and hunting in mountain, which requires a lot on firmness of dress-making handcraft. ” A suit of Deng dress contains Deng people’s wisdom.” Benya said. “Among all apprentices, there’s only one can completely inherit my craft.”

Maryuchen, Benya’s daughter in law, has learned from her for many years and almost mastered this craft now. “We don’t make traditional dress much nowadays, as one suit for each Deng is enough. It’s popular among tourists who come to our tribes although the number is small. Anyway, we’re in duty bound to learn and inherit this handcraft. ”Maryuchen told the reporter

In fact, young Deng people are paying more and more attention to the protection of Deng culture, and they are eager to protect their culture by communicating with outside world and letting more people appreciate this treasure passed down from their ancestors.

At present, most Deng families already begin accessing to outside information through internet and TV, many young Deng people go out of the village and bring out their culture to various places.

(Translated from Chinese version on website of Chinanews.com)


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