The Nosu (Yi from Liangshan) in Camps and Trails in China


Our Lolo hunters were tall, handsome fellows led by a slender young chief with patrician features who ruled his village like an autocrat with absolute power of life and death. The Lolos are a strange people who at one time probably occupied much of the region south of the Yangtze River but were pushed south and west by the Chinese and, except in one instance, now exist only in scattered units in the provinces of Guizhou and Yunnan.

In Sichuan the Lolos hold a vast territory which is absolutely closed to the Chinese on pain of death and over which they exercise no control. Several expeditions have been launched against the Lolos but all have ended in disaster.

Only a few weeks before we arrived in Yunnan a number of Chinese soldiers butchered nearly a hundred Lolos whom they had encountered outside the independent territory, and in reprisal the Lolos burned several villages almost under the walls of a fortified city in which were five hundred soldiers, massacred all the men and boys, and carried off the women as slaves.

The pure blood Lolos "are a very fine tall race, with comparatively fair complexions, and often with straight features, suggesting a mixture of Mongolian with some more straight-featured race. Their appearance marks them as closely connected by race with the eastern Tibetans, the latter being, if anything, rather the bigger men of the two." [Footnote: "Yunnan, the Link between India and the Yangtze," by Major H.R. Davies, 1909, p. 389.] They are great wanderers and over a very large part of Yunnan form the bulk of the hill population, being the most numerous of all the non-Chinese tribes in the province.

Like almost every race which has been conquered by the Chinese or has come into continual contact with them for a few generations, the Lolos of Yunnan, where they are in isolated villages, are being absorbed by the Chinese. We found, as did Major Davies, that in some instances they were giving up their language and beginning to talk Chinese even among themselves. The women already had begun to tie up their feet in the Chinese fashion and even disliked to be called Lolos.

Those whom we employed were living entirely by hunting and, although we found them amiable enough, they were exceedingly independent. They preferred to hunt alone, although they recognized what an increased chance for game our high-power rifles gave them, and eventually left us while I was away on a short trip, even though we still owed them considerable money.

The Lolos are only one of the non-Chinese tribes of Yunnan. Major Davies has considered this question in his valuable book to which I have already referred, and I cannot do better than quote his remarks here.


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