Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
Yadu Qiang is one of 11 groups that make up the official Qiang nationality in China.
Yadu Qiang is a part of the Northern Qiang language group. Although varieties of the Northern Qiang appear to be more homogeneous than the Southern Qiang languages, which are very distinct from each other, Yadu Qiang speakers must still use Chinese or Tibetan to communicate with other Northern Qiang speakers.
Although the Qiang are no longer considered a matriarchal society, women still play a leading role in agriculture and usually have the final say in the family. Young couples often live with the wife's family after the wedding.
Until recently, early marriages were common among the Qiang. It was not unusual for a boy to marry between the ages of seven and ten; and women between 12 and 18. Qiang women sing a sarcastic song to their guests. "It is the sixth moon, and the wheat flowers are blooming in the field. My husband is still an infant drinking milk. How long will it be before he grows up?" One of the games the Qiang play at festivals is called egg snatching. They place a number of rocks on the ground and while one person guards them, others try to snatch them. Whoever gets the most wins the contest. Another Qiang favorite is the log-pushing contest. Two people grab the log and try to push each other out of a circle. Whoever succeeds wins. The Qiang have their own unique cultural arts and crafts. Embroidery is a favorite pastime of the women. The Qiang enjoy singing and dancing as well. "Wine Song," "Plate Song," "Mountain Song," "Guozhuang," and the "Leather Drum" dances are very popular. These are played in accompaniment of gongs, tambourines, sonas, and bamboo flutes.
Most of the Yadu Qiang living in Heishui County have been thoroughly assimilated to Tibetan culture and religion. They follow Tibetan Buddhism, mixed with polytheism and animism. A belief in the power of the spirit world pervades all Qiang groups. Prayer flags and prayer beads are two of the common Buddhist symbols they have borrowed from the Tibetans.
Despite having the largest population of the Qiang groups in Sichuan, there are no known Christians among the Yadu Qiang. Those in Maoxian County live nearer the Qiang believers, but there are major linguistic differences that create an obstacle to the Yadu Qiang's understanding of the gospel from Southern Qiang speakers. The Yadu Qiang living in Heishui County have even less chance of hearing the gospel. They live alongside Tibetan nomads who too are completely untouched by Christianity.