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Jing

Jing

ETHNONYMS: Gin, Yuezu


The Jing live near the China-Vietnam border, mainly on three islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Fangcheng Multi-National Autonomous County (part of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region) is shared by Jing, Zhuang, Yao, and Han. The Jing are thought to be descendants of sixteenth-century immigrants from Vietnam. They speak a dialect of Cantonese in daily life. Their indigenous language has not been classified. In addition to the modern Han writing system, they use an older form called Zinan in their songbooks and religious scriptures. According to the 1990 census, there are close to 19,000 Jing. Roughly one-third are now classed as urban.

Prior to 1949, the main source of livelihood was coastal and inshore fishing, with agriculture and salt making being of secondary importance. In recent years, the fishing industry has been mechanized and the Jing engage in modernized deep-sea fishing. Oyster farming and pearl cultivation began in 1958. Land reclamation, encouraged by the state, has linked the islands to the mainland and made possible an expansion of agriculture: in addition to rice, sweet potatoes, and taro they raise bananas, papayas, coconuts, and other newly introduced tropical fruits.

Villages tend to be large, with as many as 200 households. Every village has several small temples or shrines. The main religion is Daoism fused with Buddhist elements and earlier religious strains. A small number are Catholic. Every village has several Daoist priests who are part-time practitioners. The position usually passes from father to son. Their performances rely on written texts. There are also male shamans, who in trance are possessed by different gods. Both kinds of specialists are concerned with the success and safety of fishing, with illness and childbirth, exorcism of evil spirits, funerals, and the general well-being of the community. The Jing celebrate most of the festivals of their Han neighbors. Their own particular festival is Changha. Each locality celebrates at a different date. The festival honors ancestors and the gods of localized cults, and includes feasting, singing, and performances to entertain the spirits as well as the living.

Bibliography

Ma Yin, ed. (1989). Chinas Minority Nationalities, 397-400. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

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