Love among the Deang

 

The Deang are one of the original ethnic groups of Yunnan province. Marriage between a man and a woman is not allowed if two persons have the same family name.

The young people are free to choose their partner. In all stages of courtship and marriage, music plays a dominant role, as does tea, because the Deang consider themselves descendants of tea.

As they usually live in two-story houses in which people sleep upstairs and the animals downstairs, the suitor normally approaches his loved one at night, singing to her beneath the window. Once he awakens her, if she likes him she invites him to come in and they spend the night singing together while they drink tea. The rest of the family act as if they have not heard anything and sometimes even help their daughter reply to the duets that the suitor initiates.

Frequently, sexual relationship takes place before marriage. If the young girl gives birth to a child as a result of this, there will be no discrimination since the child will become part of the husband's family the day they get married.

If love develops, the young man will give her a tea sachet that she will hang next to her bed. Once her parents see it, they understand that their daughter has a suitor and then wait for the matchmaker to arrive. Symbolically, the matchmaker also brings a tea sachet with her to begin the talks that will result in a wedding.

As a general rule, a significant dowry is not demanded by the bride's parents, so everything goes smoothly.

On the wedding day, the bridegroom's family arranges a wedding party, during which people sing and dance throughout the night. At this time the bride pays her respects to the elders of her new family.

Divorce is not a big problem. If the husband who asks for it, he just has to offer a gift to the village's chief for the gods. If it is the wife who asks for divorce, she need only return all the presents she received at the wedding.

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