She - History and Cultural Relations

As mentioned above, the She reportedly began moving in large numbers into the boundary areas between Guangdong, Fujian, and Jiangxi provinces during the Sui dynasty (late sixth to early seventh centuries A.D. ). One respectable historical account, however, argues that the She and the Yao (another minority people located in pockets throughout southern China) share ancestors who were settled in Hunan Province (around Changsha) as far back as the Eastern Han dynasty (c. second century AD.). A second, equally respectable account treats the She as descendants of the ancient Yue people native to Guangdong and Guangxi. Whatever their true beginnings, She, by the fourteenth century A.D. , were already settled in the mountainous zones of eastern Fujian, northeastern Jiangxi, and southern Zhejiang. Over the course of the next few hundred years, the She grew culturally much closer to their Han Chinese neighbors, with linguistic and technological convergences made inevitable by regular economic and political interaction. Ming-dynasty rule (1368-1644) allowed She communities to operate autonomously to a degree, in exchange for their loyalty and tribute. The Qing dynasty (1644-1911), in contrast, brought military occupation and compulsory changes in certain She practices, including dress. In the mid-nineteenth century, missionaries introduced schools, hospitals, and the Christian faith. According to Chinese sources, the She actively resisted Japanese occupation during World War II and aligned themselves with the Communists in their civil war with the Nationalist party. Since 1949, She communities have experienced a great many of the institutional changes occurring throughout China—for example, land redistribution, collectivization, and the post-1979 decollectivization of agriculture—revealing the influence of the state.

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