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Culture of tiny Chinese minority documented
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Chinese researchers are building an electronic data base on the Nu minority in Yunnan Province to ensure its unique culture and customs are preserved.

A team of six experts are currently spending three years with the ethnic group whose total population numbers only 28,000.

Feng Weixiang, director of the ethnic affairs commission of Gongshan Dulong and Nu Autonomous County, said the group was currently collecting literature and conducting research on Nu customs.

As one of the country's smallest ethnic groups, the Nu minority mainly live in remote and steep mountainous areas in nine Yunnan townships.

Previously, the group, which has no written language, were known for making bamboo ropes for getting across rivers and for wearing swords and bows for hunting.

Today, however, those traditions were going by the wayside as the group were being engulfed by modern society.

"Some of the customs are disappearing as their life has been increasingly affected by modern life," Feng said.

He cited the roads and bridges built by the local government to improve the Nu's living conditions, making the use of bamboo rope less frequent.

The data being prepared by the experts are from Yunnan Nationalities Museum, Yunnan Nationalities University and the Gongshan Ethnic Affairs Commission. It will feature text, pictures, video and audio recordings.

In addition to a Chinese-language book, the team will also publish a picture book about the Nu with descriptions in English based on the research, Feng said.

The project funded by the Yunnan Provincial Ethnic Affairs Commission, costs an estimated 150,000 yuan (20,270 U.S. dollars).

(Xinhua News Agency, December 11, 2007)

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