Lincang Wengding Wa village–China’s last primitive tribe
Wengding Wa village, home to China’s last primitive tribe, is located in the southwest of Lincang, Yunnan province. In the local Wa dialect, wengding (翁丁) which means “connected rivers” in the dialect of the Wa ethnic group is a Wa village 30 kilometers away from Cangyuan county seat. It consists 98 families or about 400 villagers. Wengding Village has kept primitive Wa residential architectures and ethnic culture. It is the best-conserved primitive ethnic community and the must-see tourist site in Lincang Municipality in the west of Yunnan.
The weather of Wengding is humid and abundant in rainfall. On average, the village has 147 foggy days in a year, which makes the place misty and mysterious.
Cangyuan is normally referred to as “Ah Wa Shan” because it is inhabited by most of the Wa ethnic members in China, and the Wa ethnic group is claimed as “the tribe who is the last one to step out of the primitive society in China”.
Some traditions and customs of Wa
Wood-drum: from altar to stage
In the religious ceremony of Wa people, a wood-drum is considered the most sacred due to its magic connection with God. Nowadays, the wood-drum is regarded as their talisman. At festivals and celebrations, the Was would perform Wood-drum Dance to express their happiness.
Combing: The Wa Youth’s Marriage Custom
Wa youths in Cangyuan have their unique way of expressing love. Usually a Wa lad will invite the girl he loves to comb for him when sitting on their own bamboo stools and whispering to each other. When being “combed”, the Wa lad will offer tokens like a comb, a towel, a silver bracelet or silver ear-rings.
Hair-swaying Dance, a show of Wa feminine beauty
The Hair-swaying Dance reveals the Wa female beauty and symbolizes their maturity. Wa women traditionally keep long hair, and put on Hair-swaying Dance hand in hand without musical instruments.
Buffalo-worship, replacement of Head Custom
In old times, Was used to have the head custom, using the heads of men to make sacrifice to the God of Rice. But it has been replaced by buffalo heads that are also a symbol of wealth. On an important ceremony, the Was will hold a buffalo-butchering ceremony.
Admission: 25 yuan for one
Getting there: Cangyuan is about 200 kilometers from Lincang City, a vibrant place for va culture in the country.
Wengding Village is in Mengjiao Town, Cangyuan County. It takes about half and one hours to drive there.
You can find guest houses there at a reasonable price.