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2005-1-14 8:56:38

Monogamy was the general rule, and marriages were arranged by the parents. A man from a different clan would go to live with his wife's family, but had no claim of their property. Closest ties are those between brothers-in-law. All important celebrations require the presence of the brothers-in-law and their families, who send gifts to new-born children.

The religion of the Daurs was shamanism, while a few were followers of Lamaism. The biggest festival of the year was held in May, when pigs and oxen would be sacrificed to the gods to ensure prosperity for the coming year. At the Spring Festival, sacrifices were made to the ancestors and firecrackers set off in the evening. Everyone joined in a round of visits to their neighbors to partake of steamed New Year cakes and give presents of various delicacies.

Pipes are passed to visitors, men and women alike, as a sign of respect. Girls make elaborate tobacco pouches and slip them into the pockets of young men who take their fancy.

Wrestling, horse racing and archery are popular sports among the Daurs. They also play a kind of football with a ball made of ox hair.

Daur villages are neat, usually built on mountain slopes and facing streams, and the houses have courtyards surrounded by wickerwork fences.

The women have always been renowned for their needlework, decorating their clothing with fine patterns. Men wear straw hats in summer or simply tie a piece of white cloth around their foreheads. In winter they wear leather caps with ear flaps. Women wear white cloth socks and patterned shoes in summer, donning leather boots and long gowns in winter.

Typical of the daily diet of the Daurs is millet or buckwheat noodles mixed with milk, buckwheat cakes and oat porridge cooked with soybeans. Game figures high on the list of Daur delicacies, especially deer meat, pheasant and duck. They cultivate a variety of vegetables.

Inseparable from the Daur scene is the "leleche" -- a small cart with large wheels drawn by an ox.

Cultural Life

The Daurs have a rich repertory of folk dances which they love to perform during festivals. Women participate in group singing and most women own a musical instrument called a "mukulian." Men play a similar instrument, but the women are the most accomplished players.

Daur folk literature is mostly based on observations of nature, but it also contains a wealth of legends and fables. One of their most popular stories is called "The Young Stalwart and Dai Fu." It tells of the struggles of the Daurs against national oppression and their feudal rulers in the latter part of the 19th century. Also famous among the Daurs are stories by Ahlabudan, a Qing Dynasty author, such as "Fringed Iris Pouch," "Song of the Four Seasons" and "Song of Refraining from Drinking." Also well known are tales adapted from classical Chinese novels. The best-read contemporary works are those by a Daur writer named Qin Tongpu, such as "A Farmer's Song," "Song of the Fishermen" and "Song of the Lumbermen." The Daurs have a love for poetry, which they compose in several unique verse forms. Their long winter evenings are also enlivened by oral literature, riddles and proverbs, as well as handicrafts such as toy making, embroidery and paper cuts.


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