Introducing the Hani

 

The Hani is a group of culturally related peoples living in the south of Yunnan Province in China, and in the neighboring countries: Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

They are divided, at least, in two main ethnic groups: the called Aini or Akha living in Xishuangbanna Prefecture of China, as well as in Burma, Thailand and Laos. And the called proper Hani living in the basin of Honghe River (Honghe Prefecture in China and north of Vietnam)

The total population of the Hani peoples can be near two million. Of those more than a million and half are living in China, 150,000 in Burma, 100,000 in Laos, 75,000 in Thailand and 25,000 in Vietnam.

Most of the Hani that inhabit China (76%) live in the Honghe Autonomous Prefecture, and in some counties of Simao Prefecture: Yuanjing, Mojing, Jiangcheng and Puer. The rest live in Xishuangbanna.

The Hani inhabit mountain areas of Yunnan, as the Ailao and Wuliang Mountains, with warm climate and abundant rains. The Aini or Akha inhabit the mountain areas of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.

In China they have the following autonomous entities:
Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
Puer Hani and Yi Autonomous County.
Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County.
Mojiang Hani Autonomous County.

Officially they are divided in numerous branches, sometimes with few common characteristics. We can think in the existence of different ethnic groups included in the "Hani" national minority. Some of them are:

The Aini, living in the basin of the Lancang River in Xishuangbanna.
The Hani, in Honghe River.
The Biyue (more than 100.000) that live in Simao and Yuanjiang counties.
The Haomi, 100.000 people living in Mojiang.
The Kaduos, 100.000 from Simao and Mojiang.

Other branches scarcely studied are: Alou, Amu, Baihong, Bukong, Duoni, Emi, Jizou, Jiwei, Juhou, Kabie, Lami, Lobi, Menghua, Mika, Nisu, Pudu, Sansha, Sangkong, Yeche, etc.

As the Hani/Akha usually call themselves in at least three different ways, that is, according to its localization, according to the hairstyle of its wives, and according to the clan they belong, it is possible that not all these denominations refer to different ethnic groups. Only a deeper research will be able to throw light on the matter.

Their language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family, Tibetan Burmese branch, Yi sub- branch. It has several dialects. The main ones are:

The Haya dialect, spoken by those who call themselves Hani and Yani. This dialect is divided in two secondary dialects: Hani and Yani, that in turn each one of them is divided in several local languages. Some 630.000 people speak it.
Those that speak the Hani dialect are distributed by the Honghe Prefecture, districts of Honghe, Yuanyang, Luchun and Jinping.
Those that speak the Yani are in Xishuangbanna and Lancang

The Hao-Bai dialect is spoken by those who call themselves Haoni and Baihong. It is divided in two secondary dialects: Haoni and Baihong. The 150.000 Hani who speak these dialects are distributed in Mojiang, Yuanjiang and Puer.

The Pi-ka dialect is spoken by those who call themselves Piyue and Kaduo. It is divided in Piyue, Kaduo and Enu, three local languages. It is distributed by Mojiang, Jiangcheng, Zhenyuan and Jingdong. 270.000 people speak it.

There are also other dialects not so widely used.

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