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Jingpo Ethnic Group's Love and
Marriage Folklore

article selected from Travel China weekly

China's ethnic groups vary in relation to their love and marriage folklore. In China's southwestern Dehong Prefecture, Yunnan Province, young men and women of the Jingpo ethnic group have very definite ideas about how couples should conduct their love affairs.

Jingpo Ethnic Group's Love and Marriage Folklore Young men and women of the group are free to enter into love affairs. Generally, when the daughters grow up, the parents let them live in a separate room and do not interfere when young men from other villages come to visit them. In the village there is a public house especially for young men and women to meet. In the public house, youths having lots of fun can be seen both from the local village and neighboring villages. They sing and play the mouth organ and hurry home before dawn. Festivals are a good opportunity for them to romance their sweethearts. They frequently sing and dance, drink wine and prepare betel nuts for each other through the night as they strengthen their friendship. Although they see each other freely, they are not allowed to have sex or become pregnant before marriage. Other wise, they will be punished according to the customs and the offender, if he is not very heavy, will be made to kill a pig, or if he is heavy, he will be made to kill an ox to entertain the villagers as an apology.

Their marriage ceremony is different from other nationalities because there is a custom called "passing the grass bridge" on the day of their wedding. The family of the bridegroom entertains the visitors as usual. Accompanied by beautiful music, the guests take the bride (whose upper body is decorated with silver decorations and her lower body with a deep red tubular skirt)not directly to the home of the bridegroom, but to a house of her relatives in the village.Generally at noon she is met in front of the bridegroom's house at the chosen time by the compere. At the ceremony, the compere grasps a chicken and cuts its neck. Before it dies, the chicken is free to see where it flies. If it flies toward the house of the bridegroom, that proves that the bride will bring prosperity to the family of her mother-in-law. Later, the compere will drop the chicken's blood on the grass bridge. In front of the gate of the bridegroom's house cogongrass is spread and above it a wooden board is put down to form a grass bridge. Passing through the chicken-blood grass bridge, the bride goes toward the house of and becomes the wife of the bridegroom. Her mother-in-law takes off her necklace and gives it to the bride to wear, signifying that she has handed over the power of the house to the bride. After this all guests hail, drink wine, dance and enjoy the celebrations.

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