The Wa nationality has a population
of 360,200, living in Cangyuan, Gengma, Shuangjiang,
Zhengkang counties of Loncang Prefecture, and Ximeng,
Menglian, Lancang counties of simao Prefecture. Cangyuan
and Ximeng are the two counties where the Was live
in compact communities. The Was are the descendents
of the Pu people. They were called "Wangman",
"guci" and "Kawa" in the Tang
,Ming and Qing dynasties respectively. But they called
themselves "Wa", "Bu rao ke" and
"Ah-Wa ". After Liberation, they were named
the Wa nationality of their own will.
Their language, which includes four
dialects, belongs to the Mon-Khmer Branch of the southern
Aisian Language Family, (Wa-deang Branch). Before
Liberation, they used wood-cutting, bean-counting
and rope-knotting for record and notation. And they
expressed their emotions by sending different objects.
for example, sending chilies to another village denoted
indignation, while sugar canes and salt meant friendship.
The majority of the Wa people believe
in primitive religion, but those from the Cangyuan
region believe in Hinayana Buddhism. Before Liberation,
religious activities like "Pulling Wooden drum"and"
Cutting Oxen Tails" were held in Ximeng. The
Wa people regard the wooden drum as a religious tool
that has exceptional power. It they carry it back
to their village and offer sacrifices by butchering
oxen, they could expect god to bless them with a good
harvest and a happy life. therefore, every Wa village
has a wooden drum house.
The costumes of the Wa people are unique,
characterized by those in the Ximeng region, They
like black clothes with red decoration. The women
usually wear short black collarless coats that just
reach the upper part of the belly, and skirts with
red, blue and black stripes. They wear long hair,silver
hoops on their heads, big earrings, thick necklaces
and colorful strings of beads on their chests. The
naked parts of their bellies and legs are decorated
with rattan hoops. The men wear black or red turbans,
black collarless short coats, and loose trousers,
with swords on their waists. Most of them are bare-footed.
Some wear earrings, silver necklaces and bracelets
The Wa people are fond of singing
and dancing. Their dances are rich on content and
varied in form, overflowing with enthusiasm. the popular
dances are "Circular Dance ", "Wood
Drumen dance", "Rice Husking Dance",
and "Hair-Swinging Dance".