Studies on Historical Patterns and Changes of Yao Minority’s Dietary Culture in Dayaoshan Area, Guangxi
Yao is an ancient mountain ethnic group in China. Dayaoshan is a famous Yao settlement in Guangxi. Since the Ming dynasty, Yao has been living there. Because of their different origins, beliefs, languages, dresses, customs and culture, the Yao people who living in Dayaoshan were divided into five branches which known as Chashan, Hualan, Ao, Pan and Shanzi. So Dayaoshan has become a village which has most branches and characteristics of Yao all over the world.Daily diet is a necessary condition to maintain human life. Food production and dietary life are symbols of cultural progress and bases to build up civilization. Through different times, different groups of people who eating at all levels, we are able to experience different social and cultural patterns, and to deepen our knowledge and understanding of certain ethnic group. Both classical documents and modern studies haven’t had special discussion on the dietary culture of five branch Yao people in Dayaoshan yet. Therefore, using the professional knowledge of Chinese dietary culture to study the historical patterns and changes of Yao’s dietary culture in Dayaoshan seems very necessary.Based on the recognition of micro-research methods, the author chose Yao people living in Dayaoshan as a type. In order to break through the limitations of previous research of Yao, the author analyzed social and cultural changes of Yao deeply by using the perspective of dietary culture. The article used typical anatomy method to describe the dietary history of Yao people in Dayaoshan, meanwhile to restore the true state of Yao’s dietary life there. Through analyzing the related factors of Yao’s dietary culture, we can form a true understanding of the reasons about Yao’s dietary culture changes. Form this point to enlarge the knowledge to other areas.This article discussed the historical characteristics and relevant changes of Yao’ dietary culture of Danyaoshan in three periods.First, Ming and Qing dynasty. After the war of Datengxia in Ming, Yao people retreated into high mountains. They used the environment as a barrier to establish a closed social system and lived a self-sufficient economic life. In the harsh natural environment and social environment, Yao tried hard to seek survival and development of its nation. During that period, on Yao’s food production, rice farming and slash and burn were parallel, fruit and vegetable cultivation and wild collection were simultaneous, livestock breeding and fishing hunting were equal. The long-term isolation caused closed and backward condition of Dayaoshan. Thus the Yao people lived a hysteretic and monotonous dietary life there.Second, the Republic of China. Surveys about Dayaoshan done by many ethnologists and anthropologists at that time gave us a chance to make a clear understanding about Yao’ dietary life there. During this period, the basic characteristics of Yao’ dietary life in Dayaoshan were short of food and rough at cooking methods. As lack of field and poor management, food shortages were widespread. Most Yao people relied on minor cereals, even starve sometimes. Meat took a small proportion in Yao people’s dietary composition. Long-term shortage of oil and salt caused undernourishment and emaciation in Yao people. As the traffic was not smooth, it was extremely difficult for Yao to buy food from the outside world. The living cost in Dayaoshan was even higher than in large cities. Pickled vegetables and pickled birds were two traditional cooking methods of Yao so as to reserve food materials. Compared with the Ming and Qing Dynasty, Yao’s food production methods and dietary life didn’t have essential change.Third, from 1949 to today. In this period Yao people’s dietary culture has experienced historical changes in Dayaoshan. Under the policy of equality and autonomy of ethnic groups, Yao’s possession and access of production goods and distribution of fruit of labor have carried out a series of reforms. So Yao’s dietary patterns and contents have changed accordingly. Since reform and opening, with a variety of system of production responsibility carried out and diversification of production and operation popularized, the income of Yao has increased to a high level. Yao’s food has achieved self-sufficient. Currently, food expense holds a higher proportion in total household expenditure in Yao’s family of Dayaoshan. The overall living standard of Yao is at the subsistence stage.This article used theories and methods of history, anthropology, folklore synthetically. Through collecting and arranging relevant literature about the Yao’s dietary culture in Dayaoshan, the author described the various historical dietary culture patterns of Yao at that region. He also compared the different characteristics and changes of Yao’s dietary culture at all period so as to analyze the related factors of Yao’s dietary changes. Meanwhile, the author used literature method together with field survey method. He took an Ao Yao village in Dayaoshan as a case, through describing Ao Yao’s dietary life there to display the Yao people’s food production and dietary life nowadays and reflect the historical changes within the 60 years of them.Through the review of 600 years of the history of Yao’s dietary culture in Dayaoshan, Guangxi since the Ming dynasty, we can make an understanding that the Yao’s dietary culture there is full of vivid characteristics. So it can be a frame of reference for us to understand the dietary culture’s living and developing conditions among China’s southwest minorities. In the past, the traditional food production and dietary life of southwest minorities was closed. This closure has restricted the development of dietary culture there and made the level standstill for a long time. The historical changing of minorities’ food production and dietary life happened in the mid-20th century, especially after the reform and opening up. Minority’s (any nation’s) food production and dietary life should be open and polynary. Single economic model, particularly the model of dependent on the environment and natural economic cannot be continued.