ĦĦĦĦThe 22,517 people
of this very small ethnic minority live in compact communities primarily
in the three islands of Wanwei, Wutou and Shanxin in the Fangcheng
Multi-ethnic Autonomous County, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,
near the Sino-Vietnamese border. About one quarter of them live
among the Han and Zhuang ethnic groups in nearby counties and towns.
The Jings live in a subtropical area
with plenty of rainfall and rich mineral resources. The Beibu Gulf
to its south is an ideal fishing ground. Of the more than 700 species
of fish found there, over 200 are of great economic value and high
yields. Pearls, sea horses and sea otters which grow in abundance
are prized for their medicinal value. Seawater from the Beibu Gulf
is good for salt making. The main crops there are rice, sweet potato,
peanut, taro and millet, and sub-tropical fruits like papaya, banana
and longan are also plentiful. Mineral deposits include iron, monazite,
titanium, magnetite and silica. The large tracts of mangroves growing
in marshy land along the coast are a rich source of tannin, an essential
raw material for the tanning industry.
The Jing people had their own script
which was called Zinan. Created on the basis of the script of the
Han people towards the end of the 13th century, it was found in
old song books and religious scriptures. Most Jings read and write
in the Han script because they have lived with Hans for a long time.
They speak the Cantonese dialect.
The ancestors of the Jings emigrated
from Viet Nam to China in the early 16th century and first settled
on the three uninhabited lands since the neighborhood had been populated
by people of Han and Zhuang ethnic group. Shoulder to shoulder with
the Hans and Zhuangs there, they developed the border areas together
and sealed close relations in their joint endeavors over the centuries.
The Jings, who were all illiterate
before 1949, are now going to school, and many young people have
moved onto college education. Each village now has a clinic, and
paramedics have been assigned to each fishing vessel.
Jing people like antiphonal songs which
are melodious and lyrical. Their traditional instruments include
the two-stringed fiddle, flute, drum, gong and the single-stringed
fiddle, a unique musical instrument of the ethnic group. Folk stories
and legends abound. Their favorite dances feature lanterns, fancy
colored sticks, embroidery and dragons.
Jing costume is simple and practical.
Traditionally, women wear tight-fitting, collarless short blouses
buttoned in front plus a diamond-shaped top apron and broad black
or brown trousers. When going out, they would put on a light colored
gown with narrow sleeves. They also like earrings. Men wear long
jackets reaching down to the knees and girdles. Now most people
dress themselves like their Han neighbors though a few elderly women
retain their tradition and a few young women coil their hair and
dye their teeth black.
Many Jings are believers of Buddhism
or Taoism, with a few followers of Catholicism. They also celebrate
the Lunar New Year--Spring Festival -- and the Pure Brightness Festival,
the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival like the Hans.
Fish sauce is a favorite condiment
the Jing people use in cooking, and a cake prepared with glutinous
rice mixed with sesame is a great delicacy for them.
There used to be some taboos, such
as stepping over a fishing net placed on the beach, sitting on a
new raft before it was launched, and stepping on the stove. But
many old habits that hampered the growth of production have died
out bit by bit.