Zhuang - History and Cultural Relations

The Sinicization of the Tai-speaking peoples of the Lingnan (Guangdong and Guangxi) has been a long process. Chinese forces first penetrated the area in 211 B.C. , sparking local resistance and the creation of the Nan-Yue Kingdom, which expanded its rule to what is now northern Vietnam. In 111 B.C. , Nan-Yue was integrated into the Han dynasty domain but not until the Tang (c. 600 A.D. ) was state control established. Military farm colonies opened the way for further Han Chinese settlement. The indigenous Tai peoples either assimilated or were pushed westward or into the uplands, whereas the newcomers settled in the lowlands and interior river valleys. The crushing of a major Zhuang uprising in Guangdong during the Song led to further assimilation or dispersement of the ancestors of the current-day Zhuang. From the incoming Han settlers, the Zhuang adopted new agricultural techniques, where applicable, such as the iron plow, application of manure fertilizer, triple-cropping of rice, and more sophisticated irrigation systems. In the western part of Guangxi, the Zhuang remained in control of much of the area suitable for wet-field rice agriculture, as well as holding sway in the uplands where the introduction of Chinese technology was less feasible. From Tang onward, successive dynasties, landlord officials, and state-appointed local landlords ruled a large part of the Zhuang area, with most of the population reduced to tenancy and owing feudal service. This system continued into the nineteenth century, despite a number of major peasant uprisings. In the 1850s Guangxi was the origin point for the Taiping Rebellion, and Zhuang played an active role in the Taiping army and leadership. In 1927, the predominantly Zhuang area near Pai-se (Bose) was one of the earliest soviets. In 1949, the Zhuang of western Guangxi, who regarded themselves as oppressed by former Chinese governments, were warmly receptive to the Liberation army and new government. In 1952, a Zhuang autonomous region was organized in western Guangxi: By 1958, all of Guangxi became a Zhuang autonomous region, shared with the Han and with other ethnicities such as Yao, Miao, Maonan, Dong, Mulam, Jing, and Hui (Chinese Muslims). Soon after, the government organized the Zhuang-Miao Autonomous Prefecture in southeastern Yunnan and the Lianshan Zhuang-Yao Autonomous County in Guangdong. In 1984, Zhuang together with other minority people accounted for about one-third of the cadres (government employees and officials) in these areas.

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