Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, December 29 – Westerners often think of “Chinese” people as all being part of one large group, but this isn’t true. There are actually 56 ethnic groups in China. The people we generally think of as “Chinese” are the Han Chinese, which make up the majority of the population. The other 55 minority groups only account for about 8.5% of the population. Many of these people look nothing like the Han Chinese. The village we stayed in for Christmas was home to many people of the Zhuang ethnic group, the largest of the ethnic minorities. The elderly women around the fire with Leah are Zhuang, you can see they wear a certain style of clothing. They were selling sweet potatoes, taro and eggs cooked over the fire. The ladies also worked as porters for the hotels, carrying peoples luggage in baskets strapped on their backs. The lady weaving is from a nearby village. She is one of the Yao ethnic minority. An interesting fact about these ladies is that they cut their hair when they are 18, but save it and continue regularly adding it in with their current hair. This lady had also cut her hair when she had her 2nd child, so she actually had two cut lengths of hair, (all the hair she grew in her life!) added to her current hair. Traditionally, their families were the only ones who saw them with their hair down, but, now you can pay them a few dollars in US money to take their hair down for you. They have a special way of putting it up and a specially shaped hat holds it in place. She was weaving cloth like the sleeves of her jacket.