Population and Distribution
The Jino ethnic group, with a total population of 20,899 (in 2000), resides primarily in Jinghong County of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. Named after the Jino Mountain in Xishuangbanna, their name means 'Descendants of uncle' or 'ethnic group which respects the uncle'. Among all the 55 ethnic groups in China, it was the last one to be classified as an independent nationality by the Chinese government in 1979.
There are several versions of the origin of the Jino ethnic group. Some people think that the Jino people are the native dwellers of Jino Mountain while some claim they are descendants of the Qiang people who migrated into the Jinsha River area.
They have their own language which belongs to the Tibetan-Burmese group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family. They have no written script and historically kept records by notching wood or bamboo. Nowadays, the language of the Han people is in common use with the Jino people.
The Jino people are animists, believing that all things on earth have souls. They worship their ancestors, who they believe can bring good future and prosperity to their offspring.
To the Jino people, the sun-drum is not only a musical instrument, but also a most divine object to worship. Usually, each village has two sun drums - the Father Drum and the Mother Drum. They are regarded as the embodiment of the divine spirits and the symbol of the village. They worship them in hopes of good harvests and prosperity. People are forbidden to touch or strike them except during the Spring Festivals.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the nationality. The areas populated by the Jino people are blessed with a mild climate, plentiful water resources and abundant rainfall; all of which provide excellent support for agricultural production. Main crops produced here are dry rice, paddy and maize. The Jino people have a long history of tea-growing. The famous Pu'er tea grows on Jino Mountain. The primitive forest on the mountain also abounds in a variety of wild animals such as hornbills, wild elephants, monkeys, etc. In addition, this area is also rich in mineral resources.
The Jino people have three meals per day. Rice makes up of their staple food, which is complemented with maize and beans. They often have their breakfasts and suppers at home while have their lunches in the farmland.
Jino villages are usually built on the mountain slopes that face the sun. They follow a tradition of people with the same surname living in the same house. Made of bamboo or wood, their houses are usually oblong in shapes with a capacity of ten to twenty small families sharing the same name. Their houses normally have two stories with the upper floor serving as the living area for the family while the ground floor is used for storage and provides accommodation for the livestock.
The second floor is divided into the outer room and inner room. The outer room serves as a meeting hall and kitchen as well as a dining room. The inner room, which is subdivided into small rooms according to the number of occupants, is used for bedrooms. A central fireplace in the meeting room is used for cooking as well as a source of both heat and light. Each small family also has a fireplace in their own room. In recent years, the tradition has been changing and families now tend to live separately.
The women of Jino usually are dressed in embroidered collarless jackets with buttons down the front and short black skirts hemmed with red lace. They also wear a pointed cap with its back reaching the shoulders like a cape.
Men often wear a white, colorless, short jacket buttoned down the front and white or blue trousers made of flax or cotton. The back of their jacket is embroidered with patterns of the sun. In the past, men used to divide their hair into three tufts. The one in the middle was said to commemorate the Marquis Wu while the rest two are in memory of their parents.
Both men and women go barefoot, and have thick bamboo or wooden sticks plugged into the holes in their earlobes. Those with the largest holes in their earlobes are considered the most beautiful. They also have a unique custom of tooth painting with the soot from pear tree branches.
Jino people are all adept at singing and dancing.
The Sun drum is the most holy sacrificial vessel and instrument of the Jino people. Every year in December of the Chinese Lunar calendar, they will perform the 'Sun drum dance' to celebrate the harvest. The elder people of the village will hit the bull-skin drum. People dance with the drumbeats around the big drum in a rough and bold style.
Their dance 'Echeguo', which means Big Drum Dance, is also famous. The dance is often performed at religious rituals such as celebrating ceremonies of building a new house and on certain festival occasions.
Besides drums, they are also proficient on a number of other unique instruments such as bamboo cylinders, bamboo flutes, mouth strings, three-stringed guitars, etc.
The Jino ethnic group also has a rich oral folk literature, which includes fairy tales, legends, stories, riddles, etc.
The festivals of the Jino people include the New Year, 'Temaoke', the Earth God Worshipping Festival, and Harvest Festival.
The Temaoke Festival is the most important festival of the Jino people. It is held from January 6th-8th on the Gregorian calendar, quite similar to the traditional Han people's Spring Festival. During the festival, Jino people of all ages put on new clothes, form a circle, beat their gongs (drums), and dance and sing with focus on their holy drum. The celebration often starts in the morning and continues throughout the night.