Family Portraits of all 56 ethnic groups in China

[ChinaGate] This is a “Family Portrait” of China’s 56 ethnic groups. Chen Haiwen, a photographer, recently lead a team of 14 photographers to create a book entitled, “Harmonious China: A Sketch of China’s 56 Ethnicities.” The team spent one year travelling all over China to complete the project. They ended up taking over 5.7 million photographs.

Thanks Mike, Helena, and Diana!



















































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  1. Wow this is cool!

    I like how some ethnic minorities have ethinc vegtables and ethnic cows and horses. I like the uncles with the ethnic suits as well.

      1. @ dpwiese says:
        2010/11/10 at 9:45 am

        “I hope that China will let them live and maintain their languages and customs.”

        What does one witness today of the modern China? Sixty five years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, we’re witnessing the livelihood of the minority etnics as well as the Chinese people in whole are much improving and they still much preserve their traditions and ways of lives.

        Frankly I do not worry that the Chinese govt or CCP will decimate the cultures, traditions, and ways of lives of the minority ethnics; in fact they are quite aware to protect the richness of the cultural diversities within the modern China.

        I have my big worry that the globalization with its strongly pushed forward “global culture” such as those values propped up by Hollywood, Disney, MTV, and so on will slowly swallow all the national culture to build the so-called global “consumerism” culture to a unified taste, likeness, and perception.

        Today we’re all witnessing on how the globalization push have been taking the many irreversible tolls around the world, esp. on those weaker nations and weaker cultures, swallowing up all the weak national cultures and turn them into the one global taste… global consumerism drive that we call as modernity and progress… i’ll instead call it profanity!

  2. dunno where you found this, but this is awesome. i don’t recall the last time i flipped thru so many pictures (maybe except for those 8) ), so these really captivated me.
    great post!

  3. Wtheck – why are Koreans and Taiwanese grouped into this “Harmonious China: A Sketch of China’s 56 Ethnicities”?

    1. B/C there are ethnic koreans living with in the Chinese mainland, just as there are russians and tajiks and kazaks also living within the chinese mainland.

      As for the ethnic taiwanese, they also reside in areas where ethnic han have settled and become the dominant majority.

    2. There are about 2 million koreans living in north eastern China.

      Taiwanese are in there because it is China’s 56 ethnicities, not just PRC’s. Unless pan-green succeeds in desinicizing the Republic of China, I don’t see the problem.

    3. Well, they also included Tibetans and Uyghurs. The photographers certainly aren’t trying to disguise where their sympathies lie.

    4. Of cos that shouldn’t be the case, well that is if the case is outside china. but this book is printed in china.

      take into consideration that publications may need to follow government policy whether written or unsaid, as can be seen by the awkard forced usage of “Chinese Taiwan”. and “56 Ethnicities” is the classification used from the establishment of PRC till now.

      i guess the title is up to the author. by binding “Harmonious” and “56 Ethnicities” suggest either the political inclination or simply the titling is not well thought of, being merely superficial and superfluous.

      it is definitely not an intention to reflect cultural or political reality. one just have to see what the chinese (han) wear in the picture to know the artificiality of the costumes which is not what people are wearing today. and certainly none of the pictures really is going to reflect harmony or promote harmony, when harmony is really a real issue of history and current affairs. reflected through true photojournalism, documentary and reportage/press photography.

      taking that aside, the photographs are good, though i also hope that they try to minimise the artificial backdrops and try to rely on the actual dwelling ground as much as possible, unless these pictures are purely for “fashion” and the contents are understood to be fake.

      1. It absolutely saddens me… seeing the rightful countries’ minorities being agglomerated into China just like that. The Chinese have no right to say that these ethnic groups belong to them. Absolutely no right.

        1. take it easy. life is full of irony, and you are not facing the worst.

          the chinese are they themselves facing it once in their lifetime – the cultural revolution. that is really where all greys turn into the wrong black and the wrong white. with daughters dragging their capitalist mother on the streets, slapping her face and making her write remorse letter. on the contrary when the victims were used to be called niu gui she shen 牛鬼蛇神 (freaks that intimidate the authority and to be eliminated). these red guards were nowadays being called by the modern asians as zhu gou ru bu 猪狗不如 (worst then the lowly creatures).

          apart from physical violence, and apart from the forced military prostitutes in certain units, cultural revolution brings out the worst of china. and let’s hope it will never happened again like that.

          so carefullly look at the other end, know what is over there. and then work hard for your work and career and conttibute to your society as much as u can, swear never to do things that u hated that country do, and live your life proud, fair and happy.

          i’ve seen many friendly taiwanese people. so i may just spare some time to bagback to lukang, tainan, sanxia. and if any tells me the the ppl are lanyu are still wearing their costumes and still very receptive to poor young amateur photographer. do let me know.

          this is one of my portfolio to ladakh, tibetan kingdom who joins india in the fear of china and pakistan abt 2 yrs ago

          and a 3 day walk abt keelung, picture is bad, but t;m sure it brings back some mememories for ppl who was there.

          1. “the chinese are they themselves facing it once in their lifetime – the cultural revolution” I’m very sorry. This is only few years. But other countries has thousand years history and culture. You’re not respecting others. That revolution is nothing compared to others.

            1. not true. cultural revolution last more than a few years, had scarred many for their lifetime, and still have influences and repercussion today. it does have perculiar features. how often do u see children driving their parents to suicide on a prevalent scale? and some of the propanganda traits are still being practiced today. but there is no value in comparing atrocities to say something is not as bad – they are all very bad. more importantly is that it is recognised and not repeated.

              this is a historical fact so there is no matter of respect or not by pointing it out. there shouldn’t be any shame for what had happened last time committed by the other generations. what i’m telling taiwanese girl is that chinese are themselves also the victim of over-zealousness of political ideology. and if some people are not seeing it, i won’t be hard-pressed to convince them because i know what is going through their mind.

              as for saying other countries have thousands of years of history and culture, i dun quite understand that. most civilisations can be traced from their divergence or convergence for thousands of years. unless it refers to the state of the same name that PRC as a country only started in 1945, china per se as a civilisation can be traced since the neolithic age, and as a country, for more than 4000 years since xia based on historical records, more than 3000 years based on archaeological evidence since shang, and more than 2000 years based on single centralised control since qin. when u say “but other countries has thousand years history and culture”, you seem to imply that is not the case for china and i dun agree with that, neither do i understand the relevance of saying that.

              1. Yes, alot of people dont know china is over 8000 years old in culture, There are pictures of how to grow rice and how to farm it and so on that are that old. China is the worlds oldest recorded civilzation. Over 8000 years of ancestors is somthin to be proud of.

          2. Hey there,

            saw your photographic works on flickr and like them, although i feel that they’re somewhat subjective.

            keep up the good work. you write extremely well too, hope to see your work published one day.

    5. James, because there are ethnic Koreans living in China and are Chinese citizens. While Taiwan is a province of China, so the Taiwanese aborigines are included.

  4. Great pics. Would probably be the ultimate coffee table book if you live in China. I’d say the Miao people win on behalf of those awesome silvery headdresses. I’ll keep my eyes out for one here in Yunnan. Anyone think they can handle one of those Mongolian wrestlers in a match?

    There is just something about minority girls. My gf is Dai so I own a full set of male Dai ceremonial clothes (thankfully not one of the most expensive ethnic sets). And having travelled down in the Dai areas I can definately say that Dai girls are very feminine, beautiful and graceful. They can also be opinionated and interesting since women traditionally have a lot to say around the house and in financial matters. Many of them study dancing and music when they are young too. Minority girls before Han anytime.

    1. “There is just something about minority girls.” and “Minority girls before Han anytime.”

      I can’t believe you would comment like that. You are disgusting. You have major male privilege issues. Who ever gave you the right to decide what the standard of beauty is? You are a low-level, barbaric, disrespectful human being.

      Just because you have personally travelled to Dai areas and seen the women, you are not an expert on them. And for your information, women are opinionated in many issues, not just “around the house and in financial matters”. You should try listening.

      1. Sheesh, you need to calm down. He was only talking about his preference. It’s just like how some people prefer skinny people, or pale, or black, or spanish, etc. What’s so offensive? And I think it’s obvious he’s talking about women he’s met in his experience. You should try to let up.

        1. Preferring a certain weight and someones race are two totally different things you idiot.

          1. I’m with you on this one. That guy is f–ing disgusting. Probably one of those creepy motherf–ers who desires a subservient, non-threatening wife with no real opinions. My opinion is that whomever I marry should challenge me – since if I can’t rise to a challenge, where is my manhood? That guy is incapable of it.

      2. Annoyed, I agree with your comments. GuoBao clearly has serious issues and you are right to point out his disrespect.

        1. marty, I suggest that you respect cultural differences and not imposed values that is based on your culture without consideration of a common ground, because your culture and your values can equally be judged by the other half of the world.

          besides, calling someone barbaric with little basis, isn’t any more civilised than any possible issues that can be raised from what he says. on the other hand to the other person, let’s not be petty by adding stfu.

      3. “You are a low-level, barbaric, disrespectful human being”

        You’re the one leveling insults at people. You need to get off of your self-righteous, feminist high horse.

    2. you traveled. you didn’t live. you saw an extremely tiny glimpse and formed an ignorant opinion to make such a racist comment. Yes, RACIST. Obviously you lack any real common sense or intelligence, especially considering you think that “miao people win on behalf of those awesome silvery headdresses”. wtf? You’re a true misogynistic pig, congrats!

      1. guobaostfu, you make me so angry. to know that people like you exist in this world makes me sad. its personal preference. zoossh is right – dont judge a book by its cover, and your opinions and views can be equally barbaric from the point of view of another culture.

  5. Some of, if not the vast majority, is stylized romantic political bologna, but at least it was done quite well.

  6. Is there really an ethnic group called the “Bonan?” Are they traditionally very good at being security guards? Is that why the Hanzi is the same?

    1. what was the point of that comment? to show what an ignorant fuckwad you are?
      grow up or shut the hell up.

    2. They don’t look the same at all – there is a clear difference between the Southern types (i.e. most of them) and the Northern types (i.e. Oroqen, Korean, Manchu). You could remove the costumes and just have the families and I can tell you which one of those groups they belong to in a split second just by looking at their faces.

    3. I thought the project was very interesting.

      But of course my comedian mind shot straight to: Couldn’t they just have rounded up 20 people at a Chinese JCPenney and shot them in different costumes and saved about 364 days?

      1. @ Robert. That’s what they do a lot of times. Like the Olympics lol. And Goddamn! People here are so uptight! He was just making a obviously corny, racist joke, and Ms Island girl goes and shouts epithets at the person. I’d say that’s even more disrespectful

        1. Yeah, cause racist jokes are not disrespectful at all. Islandgirl was right in calling bhoc out.

  7. NO ethnic laowai? Then China can claim 57!

    I like how the Russians show up in everyday clothes.

    1. I forgot. Which is the group where women are in charge and take a man whenever they want?

      1. The Mosu… not sure if they were shown here. Many minorities in China are not officially recognized as such (or as a separate minority), either being lumped in with the Han majority, or with other minorities.

        1. Here are all the groups excluded (From Wikipedia):

          This is a list of ethnic groups in China that are not officially recognised by the government of the People’s Republic of China.
          Gejia (亻革家人, Gèjiā Rén)
          Bajia (八甲人, Bājiǎ Rén)
          Deng (僜人, Dèng Rén)
          Khmu (克木人, Kèmù Rén)
          Kucong (Yellow Lahu/Lahu Shi (苦聪人; Traditional: 苦聰人; Kǔcōng Rén)
          Mang (芒人, Máng Rén)
          Sherpas (夏尔巴人; Traditional: 夏爾巴人; Xiàěrbā Rén)
          Tuvans (图瓦人, Túwǎ Rén)
          Yi (羿人, Yìrén)
          Youtai (犹太; Traditional: 猶太; Yóutài) (Jewish people of China and Jewish people in general)
          Immigrants (外国人), of mainly Caucasian descent, as well as Yamato Japanese (大和民族) and Ryukyuans (琉球民族) living as permanent residents in Taiwan

        2. I believe it is 纳西民族, (NAXI) sometimes nicknamed 女人国 (women’s country)

        1. If you are wanting to go there so badly, chances are you my friend would not be picked….lmao Better stick to your oriental massages, cause paying is the only way you will be getting that Asian Experience buddy…

          1. WTF kind of stupid comment is this? The poster merely mentioned that he wants to travel to China, and then you attacked him for being a frequenter of prostitutes and a loser? Projecting much? You need to grow the f up and get that stick out of your f’ing ass.

  8. Does anyone know where the number 56 comes from? I heard that this number was created in the 1950s as part of a classification project commissioned by the government. Several hundred ethnic groups were up for consideration. I’m not sure how they ended up choosing these 56.

  9. Very cool pics.
    I wish i can see the high resolution pics of these 56 groups for more details of their facial features and clothes etc.

    Keep it up!

  10. Is this China’s way of making up for their disgraceful display of their “ethnic groups” at the Olympics by using just Han children?

  11. Thank you for this wonderful anthropological images of introducing the multifaceted of ethnicity in China and creating awareness of their existence! 🙂

    1. long long ago,tibet had already become a part of china,u can check the china history,even though i am not satisfied with some of the policies of the communist party,but the truth will never changes

    2. Laotians, Thais (or Tai), and the Shan (Thais or Tais in Burma) are in there listed under theethnic Dai family group.

    3. Thai or Tai ( in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam), Laotians in Loas, and Tai in Burma known as the Shan are all listed under the Dai ethnic group in China in the Dai/Yunnan valley. Do a research on the different ethnic group of China, Vietnam, Laos and Burma as well to find out where THAIS AND LAOS come from.

        1. oh thats nice, calling someone a cunt. I’m sure you attract all the ladies by calling them names! You probably live in your mommys basement…men like you always do. hahahaha loser!

  12. These photographs are stunning. The backdrop in some of them shows ancestral home with great detail, it adds a sense of continuity. Certainly hope China does not try to assimilate them. What a way to memorialize ethnic diversity. It should be a way of preserving images of other ethnic groups throught the world. Some of them face extinction.

    1. I love the photos, I’m not sure if the backdrop was for lighting purposes, but it would have been great to see the entirety of the background to incorporate the clothing well with their living environment. It would be great to see him take photos of families that speak different languages. I wonder if the clothing was for special occasions or usual daily wear, or whether the clothing is chosen to represent a certain era. I know the Mien, or in here the (yao) does not wear those clothes everyday, only for weddings or special occasions, even in Thailand or Laos it was not worn everyday.

    2. on the contrary, becos so many of the pictures include artificial backdrops and some of the foreground objects are also artificial, it brings the question of whether some of the other background are actually staged but looks real in the small pictures above.

      it makes me curious of actually looking at the real print.

  13. The Qiangs made me laugh….there is only 1 person looking at the camera( the little girl) and everyone else seems to be preoccupied looking at the little boy(?) tipping over. The Qiang on the far left is hilarious!! Didn’t know Asian eyes could open that wide. hahahaha

    1. Dude, grow up. If you’re not going to look at this and be able to appreciate the cultural value without remarks seeped in ignorant stereotypes, then don’t bother.

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  15. holy crap! define ‘harmonious’! thats the communist propaganda! between many ethnic people, there has never been real peace, yet it is normal human behaviors. what i detest is to put on the mask of ‘harmonious’!

    1. Being harmonious is the aim. As far as I know, the ethnic groups in China have not fought wars as deadly as the ones fought by europeans in ww1 and ww2.

      1. then what do you call what’s going on in Tibet other than an ethnic cleansing? hmmmm?

        1. ethnic cleansing would imply systemic and mass violence to either kill or drive away the tibetans from their country, but the gunning down of pilgrims crossing the mountains would suggest otherwise. targetting the nuns, monks and intellectuals does not yet constitute ethnic cleansing, even if it involves killing and fear tactics.

          besides, an iron fist does not just apply to those who seek reindependence, but any dissendents per se, or someone that disregard those in power. even if u r the secretary of the state, u will not be spared.

          unlike the balkans, chinese prefer containing the issue and avoiding criticisms. out of sight, out of mind. dilution of the local population by flooding the place by chinese and other races is much more an effective way.

        2. Your donkey-kicked western heads are actually those brain-washed ones. Just sit in your sofa, eat pizza and watch TV that saying China is “cleansing its ethnic groups” — and you take it in your junk-and-shit-filled belly without second guessing and then masturbate before go to bed. Pack your clothes, buy a air ticket and actually go to China! Use your own eyes and take your own pictures and see how people, all these ethnic groups, are living there. Try to find any evidence for your “enthnic cleasing” claim.

          1. Totally agree!! That’s the best comments so far!! Those people really should go and use their own eyes to see how exactly these ethnic groups are living in China!! Don’t speak until you see it yourself!!

            1. Strongly agreed. But just dun forget not to get a prc visa for meeting up Taiwanese aborigines. Also authentic Tibetan culture is better savored outside of and faraway from Lhasa for example western tibet sar or even in non-prc administered Tibetan land such as ladakh and arunachal pradesh

  16. If you look hard enough, it’s obvious these are in some museum somewhere, very well staged and most likely wax.

  17. These pictures are beautiful. As an American-born member of one of these ethnic groups in China, I really appreciate the photographer’s work. However, the book’s title is incredibly misleading, given China’s treatement of these ethnic groups and insistence on cultural dominance over them, both currently and historically.

    I wish this book would have strived more to really speak about these ethnic groups long history and difficulty under the Chinese government. Just this summer we witnessed extreme ethnic clashes with the minority Uighurs in western China.

    1. Actually, I hope you are not one of the those ignorants watching too much American media and their bias news. I am myself a foreign born Chinese and pretty white washed back then. If you are somewhat educated, please read other news other than CNN or bias European news. I’m not saying everything they are reporting is wrong, but you have to hear the other version. If you have lived in China before (not as a tourist), you will find out what kind of people Uighurs are, I made my experience, but make your’s first.

      I think every nation is evil and does whatever it is best for their nation. Daila Lama is just a political figure or a DOG on AMERICAN leash. What if Mexico wants to claim California back, how would you like it? Hell no!

      1. youre seriously not going there, are you? oh, you are. The chinese gov has been doing a cultural cleansing of tibet for decades and decades and decades. Cultural Revolution anyone? the tibetans love the dalai lama and want him to return, yet he’s been in exile for how many years now??? lets not even get into the panchen lama, the youngest political prisoner in the WORLD thanks to the chinese government whom have elected a fake one so that china has more political power over Tibet. The Tibetans cannot even be compared to the Mexicans because the Tibetans aren’t trying to take back something that’s no longer theirs. Did you know that there is NO LAW against killing a Tibetan? I know many Tibetan Refugees that have spoken on first hand accounts of their horrible and unethical experiences in detention centers in China for NO REASON AT ALL. This is no different than when the world turned a blind eye on the holocaust for how many years before they finally did something?? Hopefully other nations will wake up before its too late and the Tibetan culture is lost forever. They’re destroying/have already destroyed temples, sacred spaces, museums, homes, etc beyond repair and only keep a select few open in cities that have a lot of tourism so the appearance is kept up. Not only have I personally spoken with refugees but one of my aunts has been to Tibet and saw the atrocities first hand. and you can say what you want but we know the truth. and FYI, none of this is broadcasted on CNN/FOX/NBC/ABC/etc because they don’t want to piss of the chinese gov. that they supposedly have a “relationship with”.

        1. Before you guys go off at someone whom is just presenting a fair comment with your idealist ideas of ‘poor-tibet-is-a-holocaust-site’, maybe you all should brush up on some of the real history of Tibet before China occupation time. It is not a Paradise Lost. Here is a link that has really opened my eyes to the situation.

          and no, Michael is not a communist.

          ‘The Tibetans cannot even be compared to the Mexicans because the Tibetans aren’t trying to take back something that’s no longer theirs. Did you know that there is NO LAW against killing a Tibetan?’ -then what do you think the riot was for? They want to drive the Han people out. As simple as that. They wanted Tibet back. And this no law against killing a Tibetan thing? Can you kindly inform me where you got this information from please? Western news?

          I don’t want to be attacking anyone here, or defending the Chinese government coz they haven’t exactly presented themselves in a positive way. Its just that its fustrating when I see comments about situations where no proof or evidence is given to support the thinking behind it. I know how the Media can be extremely misleading. Here in the Sydeny newspapers, they showed a front page photography of a Policeman beating up a Tibetan Monk in Tibet/China during the riots and we had to hold in our laughs …. coz they police car had Indian writing on it.

          1. Thank you Sue for enlightening the ignorant and the mis-informed. It amazes me how self rightous some people are on how other countries should be run and governed. They make nasty comments on and bashed China and they seem to be the only ones who know what democracy is all about, It only reveals how stupid and ignorant they are.
            A do not like to make any comment on the so-called invasion of Tibet by China. I dont think it is even an invasion. I say it again. China is one of the few countries that has never invaded any country for its material gain. I am not taking the side of China. I am not even from China but I was there for a couple of years I know at least a little of their history and culture and most importantly I dont always get my info from the CNN/Newsweek/BBC. I feel so sad for people who called sensible people communist just because they speak favourbaly of China. I just wish they have the change to visit china and see how “communist ” the Chinese are. They will be surprised.

          2. do u mean feudalism does not exist in china, during the period you commented on tibet?

            i find it highly unintelligent despite of the trend to use that in the old times to support the hard measures today, becos surely that will break the dreams of the substantial minority who thinks of ancient tibet as a paradise, but these people with mistaken beliefs are often not the people who are actively interested in the genuine issues relating to tibetan history, politics and current affairs.

            moreover, whatever brings out of the old tibet nevertheless will also bring out bad memories that stretches from the taiping rebellion till the cultural revolution, where the magnitude of deaths surpassed that of the mongolian and manchurian invasion, and becos of the proximity to today’s date still scarred some of the older folks.

  18. that’s cool.I like the pictures. As a native Chinese,I never saw an introduction about all the 56 ethic groups in such well made pictures

  19. Ah yes. And now we know what’s been the Propaganda Arm of the Chinese Communist Party busy of late.

  20. Ah yes. And now we know what’s been keeping the Propaganda Arm of the Chinese Commnist Party busy of late.

    1. Interesting comment – read Gavin Menzies’ book ‘1421: The year Chinese Discovered America’ (also published as ‘1421: The year Chinese Discovered the World’). There is a lot of evidence pointing to the Chinese being there, as well as a village discovered in the 1800s on the western seaboard of Mexico (or it might have been southern California) where the people spoke a Chinese dialect; wore Chinese traditional garb; and appeared Chinese. Even the chickens (yes!) were the ‘blue skinned’ Chinese variety. A Chinese Treasure Ship wreck from the 1400s was also found near the village.

  21. Tibetans are not part of China. I dont want to be a filthy dogs, snakes and bug eating Chinese.

    1. Well, let them leave and form an independent country already, if you’re so disgusted by them.

      1. I think you may have mixed this up: Nga Gyami Mang does not want Tibet to be part of China and would gladly have Tibet as an independent country.

    2. As far as I can guess, NGM is a I think he should have no problem about being Chinese.

  22. I too find these picture awesome !
    However, I have a small technical question… where did you find them ? Is there no copyright ?
    — Woods

  23. Lol @ “Ethnic Minorities in Taiwan” – In Taiwan “Mainlanders” (Waishenren) are considered an ethnic minority. Ethnic groups in Taiwan are as follows: Taiwanese (Hoklo 70%, Hakka 14%), Waishenren 15%, Aborigine 2% (Ami, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Yami, Thao, Kavalan, Truku, and Sakizaya).

    1. well, i wish a similar project can be done on the taiwanese aborigines, but with respect to real backgrounds and real costumes.

      hoklo, hakka and waishenren, as well as current expatriates, can be included also, but there is no need to force a kid to wear a manchu ma gua when no one really wear that today, not even for festival. it is fine for them to wear modern conventional clothings. some locations with characteristic buildings/architecture/landmark will help to tell the cultural backgrounds between these few ethnicities.

      1. In the Taiwanese photo… Did I just see a GUN? Since when did outside weapons become a apart of the “costume” of the Taiwanese Indigenous people?

        Sigh… How is it that there is “ethnic minority” even within “ethnic”? The photos is horrible horrible horrible. Too much mis-representation happening there. No, wait – It shouldn’t be be there!

        1. when i say a similar project, i meant a project done by taiwanese on taiwanese, and for the correct representation to be shown to the rest of the world.

          that’s isn’t just a gun. that is a rifle, presumably meant for hunting wild boars and other games. i do not know if the era where the indigenous taiwanese wear their traditional costumes overlaps with the current era where they used rifles for hunting, and i do not know if hunting can by itself support the livelihood of their family.

          i for certain will not rely on the interpretation on that book from china, and will definitely suggest the same to the others, beyond political perspective. any documentary touch done on these ethnic lines, will definitely burn their wrath should there be any attempt to look into these cultures beyond the superficial look of the costumes. which is why it is important for taiwanese to do it herself, and to face the reality and the existence of the diversity of the taiwanese herself, as i do know some taiwanese do not actually share the same belief as the majority of the other taiwanese.

          i would think that it will be good to have a real-life attire and the attire they will actually put on during their festivals or their proudest time, to be done in iconic and unique places in taiwan, comprising of the following communities

          – all indigenous groups beyond the official listing.
          – hoklo
          – hakka
          – waishenren from respective cultural regions,
          – overseas-born taiwanese who return to taiwan, eg. from US or canada
          – taiwanese merchants who work in china.
          – brides from china
          – brides from vietnam
          – expatriates from japan
          – expatriates from the west
          – workers from thailand
          – any other sizeable communities that form an unique cultural facet and presence in taiwan.

          i think we can look at things from the brighter side. leave the bitterness to the cultural chauvinists who gets pissed whenever other people do not live by their self-invented definitions. dun get so angry about the absurdity in life which ironically exist in abundance. the taiwanese identity must by itself to be able to stand on her own with the differences to be settled within the circle first. once that is done, no one else can take it from you.

          1. Your replies have been intelligent and very well thought out. It’s given me a very interesting perspective of the cultural climate in China and I wanted to thank you for that.

  24. It would’ve been nice to have a small map with each photo, to get an idea of where exactly each group is located.

    But I must say this was very interesting; I had no idea there were that many ethnicities in China.

  25. If you can read the Chinese you can see most of the Southern Ethnic groups come from the Zhuang Autonomous County, while most the Northern ones are from Jilin or Heilongjiang

  26. You can see the Manchu influence on a lot of these minority costumes, including the influence on the Han majority… the dresses, including mongols, hans, and others did not look like that before the Manchu conquest.

  27. The natives such as the Ibans and kadazan of Sabah/Sarawak in East Malaysia share many similar facial feature of some of the ethnic groups in China. Has anyone done any research on their origin? I suspect many many years ago they might have left the shore of China and made their home in Sabah and Sarawak.

      1. They must have left together with Admiral Zheng He on one of his numerous trips to south east asia and a Africa.
        I get mad when Westerners who have no idea of Chinese history try to be champion for the Tibetans fighting for independence. Tibet has always been part of China. China has never taken what is not theirs in the first place. They could but they didn’t. It is simply not in their DNA.

        1. First and foremost you skcheah obviously have no knowledge what so ever so before you talk about what country belongs to who, please do some research. It proven that Tibet is its own country, and greedy ass chinese government is trying to take over just to make money. You have no right to say what is in the chinese government’s DNA, they are greedy mother fucking asses who just go and kill people so they get what they want. They will get what they deserve one day, you just watch and see.

            1. Tibet had been a part of China, but strictly only based on chinese definitions and is true between chinese and chinese of the same belief. “always” is definitely not true even by chinese definitions.

              First of all, you had to define an universal accepted starting time of chinese history, and if tibet was a part of it from the starting of chinese history.

    1. I lived on Borneo for 1-1/2 years in Kuching, Sarawak. We traveled around the island quite a bit and came in contact with many ethicities Ibans, Bidayuh and others among them plus many resided in Kuching. If you research the migrations out of Africa, you discover that there was a major migration along the Indian Ocean/South China Sea coastline and over a land bridge that once connected Borneo, the Indonesian Archipelgo and Australia. The Ibans and others apparently descended from this migration. Others leaving Africa traveled in a more Northeasterly direction and became the Chinese/Koreans/Japanese/etc. That which really amazed my is the incredible similarities of many from Borneo to the Athapascan peoples (Navajo and Apache Native Americans) living in Western Canada, Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico (I have lived in Arizona for 21 years). My Borneo visitors to Arizona immediately saw the same distinct similarities. Some theorize that there once existed a series of small islands which made a sea voyage from SE Asia to North America possible even using very small craft.

      1. Interesting. How can we look so different when we supposedly came from the same source. I also read somewhere that there is a small community of Jews in China. They read the Torah and still carry on with their Jewish culture. I wonder who has more information on this. If I have a million extra bucks(I say extra) I am going to visit that place and do my own research. Maybe this was the group that went East after the Flood?.

        1. That was my dream for the longest. I also need to see if I can find some Hun and Magyar DNA hidden in the Uighurs.

        2. The Jewish community in Keifang is descended from Persians Jews who were oringinally silk traders.

      2. “the migrations out of Africa” is a white man’s mistake on the human species.

        The US and the west lost the Peking man skull just to make the out of Afrika theory work.

    2. there is no surprise with or without migration patterns. there is almost always a transitional shift in genes and appearances between nearby geographical location.

    3. I am from the same ethnic group with Iban, called kanayat’n, and in indonesia we’re named Dayak. I just wonder why we have similar outfit pattern with kazak’s, because you know they are quite far away.

  28. Wonderful!
    I just love this site! Really, I had NO idea of the existance of so many ethnic groups in China! I would also love to see higher resolution foto’s, so I can study the facial expressions better. I am a student in archeology, and interested in cultural antropology as well. Very happy I came across this site! Thank you again!

  29. These are not real. Most of these ethnic groups do not exist and are simply the creation of some very imaginative soul with funding from powerful big uncle.

      It would be nice to enable the comment function on this. I came here looking for some inspiration on clothing design and all I see are retards trying to prove they’re more intellectual than others.

  30. That picture of the “Taiwanese Minorities” kills me.
    Is this another propaganda from China?
    Adding that “China” before Taiwan is just… Ugh.

    1. I agree. What they’ve done by including ‘us’ with ‘them’ is really terrible and definitely shouldn’t happen.

  31. “Ethnic minorities in Taiwan”? You have got to be kidding me. We have over 14 tribes which are VERY different from each other. As a Thao/Siraya Taiwanese, I do NOT appreciate being simply a “Gaoshan” minority person when there is so much diversity. You’d think that with all the whining China does over the actions of the DPP, the Chinese government would at least try to appeal to the Taiwanese people.

    1. I left a comment after reading your’s (and named myself after what you named yourself =P). Thank you for speaking out for what is right. We must continue to protect and support our beloved and precious country.

  32. Where can this wonderful book be purchased ? I could not find anything in Amazon…

  33. Great pictures!!! I love all and all remind me to my great great ancestors. I should b agree with the taiwanese guy as I believe that they are indeed the first inhabitants of Taiwan. Most of them have great similarity with hundreds of tribes in Indonesia, Malaysia and the rest of land in South-East Asia.

  34. These photos are beautiful! This is very interesting, especially since I have two daughters adopted from China. I do not know their ethnic heritage, one is from Hunan the other from Sichuan, but they enjoyed the photos as well. Thank you!

  35. These photos… are as artificial as any advertising (fake) photos can get. What are the publishers trying to do? Say… see? We have so many ethnicities. We feel proud.
    That is all rubbish. This “authenticity” they’re trying to achieve through capturing these highly staged photgraphs and the agglomeration of different ethnicities even within what they claim as one ethnicity in one photo is really horrible.
    China cares nothing about many of these so-called ‘ethnicities of china’… many of these people’s lives are constantly being destroyed by China.
    Taiwanese Aboriginies… since when were they a part of Chinese ethnic groups? They are not. They will never be. This is historically incorrect.
    Whoever thinks these photographs are ‘cool’, ‘fascinating’, ‘beautiful’… well, congratulations, you’ve just fallen into the power fuladvertising and disguise of China trying to tell you that it;s harmonious; that there is harmony within this One Nation’. That’s utter rubbish. This brainwashing must stop.

    1. In the USA there is only one race, grey and you have to go into the melting pot if you want to be an Amerikan, if not go home and stay there.

      And the FYI once Formosa belonged to Portugal and later to Japan.

      May be Taiwanese are from the USA if they are not Chinese?

  36. These photos… are as artificial as any advertising (fake) photos can get. What are the publishers trying to do? Say… see? We have so many ethnicities. We feel proud.
    That is all rubbish. This “authenticity” they’re trying to achieve through capturing these highly staged photgraphs and the agglomeration of different ethnicities even within what they claim as one ethnicity in one photo is really horrible.
    China cares nothing about many of these so-called ‘ethnicities of China’… many of these people’s lives are constantly being destroyed by China.
    Taiwanese Aboriginies… since when were they a part of Chinese ethnic groups? They are not. They will never be. This is historically incorrect.
    Whoever thinks these photographs are ‘cool’, ‘fascinating’, ‘beautiful’, ‘awesome’… well, congratulations, you’ve just fallen into the powerful advertising and disguise of China trying to tell you that it’s harmonious and peace-loving; that there is harmony within this ‘One Nation’. That’s utter rubbish. This brainwashing must stop.

    This is mis-representation to the max! They have no right to represent others like this. Especially others who don’t even belong in that disgusting country.

    1. taiwanese girl, shut up and stop embarassing the rest of your countrymen. I’d hate for other people to think that all Taiwanese are as narrow-minded and hateful as you are. I have no love for Mainland China, but I don’t spew out propaganda-tinged hate like you do.

      Just leave your hatred aside for a minute, and consider that without a project like this, many Chinese and Taiwanese and waiguoren would never even get to see and know about all these ethnic groups. Hell, I didn’t even get to see some Taiwanese Aboriginies until two or three years ago, being born in the States and all. And it took 8/8 for the American news to show extended footage of Taiwan. It’s enough that waiguoren can finally see Taiwan not stamped on the bottom of some cheapo product, but as actual people. Little steps.

      1. You are the one that’s showing disrespect to and embarrasing our country. What do you know about Taiwan? Probably nothing much, seeing as you don’t even comprehend just how serious this matter is. By including the Taiwanese aboriginies in this photography project is to show to the world that Taiwanese Indigenous peoples is a PART OF the ethnicities of China.

        You suggest otherwise, the would “would never even get to see and know about all these ethnic groups” -> Well, they should have never included the Taiwanese in the first place no matter what, because we certainly don’t fall under the title “China’s ethnicities”. The world is seeing the wrong representation of these ethnic groups.

        Don’t you get it? An example with a context that you would understand, it’s like saying the Native American Indians belong to the Canada’s ethnic groups.

        What if White Canadians made a “Ethnicies of Canada” book and incorporated into the project, a photo of the Native Americans? You know very well that there are also many different tribes and groupings of Native Americans. But what if this Canadian photographer decided to pluck one person from each Native American tribe and agglomerate them into one photo as “American Indians” to showcase in this “Ethnicities of Canada” book? That would be wrong. But what’s worse is, they would be claiming that the Native Americans is one of the Canadian Ethnicities. This is what the Taiwanese and Chinese context is about. One side is one country.

        What then, do you make of that?

        You yourself, a Taiwanese (or so you assume), has fallen into the trap of the Chinese imagination. It is people like you that have no clue on what is actually happening to our beloved country. Slowly, you say, with the “little steps”. But it is very quickly, that the Chinese are taking away our rights to our small island nation. With claiming our native aboriginies people that have been in Taiwan for over 4000 years as one of them, being one of the EVIL acts. What the Chinese are doing to the other important Ethnic minorities is also wrong. I disagree with many things that they do, ESPECIALLY this project claiming to be “truthful”. This is all happening so quick that we might even have to call yourself Chinese within our lifetime.

        You’re not really Taiwanese then, are you? You think growing up in the states has given you all the knowledge and wisdom… It is the fact that you’re living in America that you are totally blind to such issues. Being such a white country… many many Americans have no ability to see colour in the way that the rest of the world, especially people Taiwan, see issues to do with colour. You’ve been raised in a way that ethnicities and being ‘multicultural’ is supported and encouraged. However, this “multicultural-ness” looses the ability for people to see colour, because everyone is one, aren’t they?

        You should know that the Taiwanese Indigenous should not be collectively named like that. There are many different tribes and are very different on their own. It is only until the White Eye sees all this that makes them “collective”. China in this context = White.

        Something has to be done… and I am, along with many other people including ones on this blog, trying my best to make this change. Unfortunately, this is what’s happening in Taiwan. So we cannot afford to let China eat us away like that.

        You say that without this publicity… people like Waiguoren wouldn’t be able to see that Taiwan.. well, don’t you think this is better if it wasn’t shown at all then? It’s better that no one knows about it when the source of the information is wrong and assume that Taiwanese Indigenous are the same as Chinese Indigenous. They are NOT. If people want to know more about the Taiwanese indigenous, why don’t they get it from sources that are much more reliable and trustworthy? Not from the Chinese photographer.

        It’s not that I oppose them showing it and publishing this book. But it’s WHO they are representing and HOW they are doing this ‘representing’. It is also HOW the audience of these photographs will view this matter. Of course this book has a tone of Non-Fiction to it. So wouldn’t this mean that the information contained within this book is all Non-Fiction, ie, REAL? Yes, it is good that we’re getting exposed like this. BUT. It’s in the WRONG way.

        But those, like you, who are not properly educated in this matter will be led to think the Taiwanese are part of China in the way that many others think. This is why it’s important to speak out to say that no, Aboriginal peopls of Taiwan are certainly not part of China and shouldn’t even appear in this book. You are the one that’s letting down our country. I totally disrespect what your perspective there.

        1. Lo, lisent, Taiwanese girl or pretender. First, I’m a Canadian so lets use ur Canadian example. If we were to make a ethnicity of canada book, then yeah, it would be no different than this book right here. A collection of tribal and ethical traditions, costumes et al. and maybe a group of people and/or families from each of the ethnicities.

          I don’t know what you’re talking about”pluck one person from each Native American tribe and agglomerate them into one photo as “American Indians” ” That’s not this book you’re talking about then. Because this book had more than ‘Han’ ethnicity and ‘others’ in it.

          On top of that Canadian and Chinese governments structure and aim are completely different. While China is generally just as or even more diverse a country as Canada, they are fundamentally different when it comes to ethnicity issues, due to the vastly infectious “Han culture”. Historically, as many old countries, China had to take care of its many culture groups on equal grounds. Canada on the other hand had completely destroy its preexisting native cultures under colonial rules.

          If you are doing a comparison between these old and new world orders, I suggest you take things into perspective.

        2. Honey, I could barely get through your Great Wall of Blah blah blah. I love how presumptuous and righteous you seem. So, because I grew up in the States, surrounded by other Taiwanese who have moved over and live and breathe the culture everyday, I couldn’t possibly understand what is going on, right?

          I’ll ignore the racist vibes I’m getting from your comment about “seeing colors”. I do in fact see vast differences “in colors”, but that does not have to do with this discussion. I never said that I thought of Taiwan is currently part of China; I actually vehemently oppose anyone who believes that. However, it is true that before the Chinese Civil War, Taiwan was, however insignificantly, a part of China. Thus, the Taiwanese aboriginal peoples would be historically considered Chinese in nationality, not ethnicity. The title is “56 ethnic groups in China”, implying that 56 ethnic groups live in the area. If it’s already distinguished as 56 seperate ethnic groups in China, then where are you getting the message that they are claiming the Taiwanese aboriginal culture as part of Han culture?

          What I see in this book is China’s past, so I have no great outrage at seeing them together under the title of “56 Chinese Minorities” for that reason.

          However, let’s take a step back and consider that a majority of the people in Taiwan are Han ren. Yes, if your blood goes back far enough, you will have a lot of mixed blood with the aboriginals, but the majority of Benshenren are Han ren are the descendants of those mixed individuals. By then, the blood is so diluted that they can hardly be considered honorary members of the aboriginal tribes. It is true that Taiwanese culture is a big blend of Aboriginal, Chinese, and Japanese influences, but it would be a great lie to say that the current culture has nothing to do with and evolved entirely separately from Chinese culture.

          Anyways, after all of this, when the hell does America see Taiwan as itself anyways? Taiwan isn’t allowed to have its own flag at the Olympics, and the only time I’ve seen it on American television was during the Little Leagues. Most Americans can’t find out more about Taiwanese indigenous from a “more reliable source” because they don’t even know they exist.

          1. If England were to claim the Indigenous people of Australia as part of their ethnicities Portrait, that would be just as insulting. Historically, they are connected. But that is only the White Europeans. Whose side of history are we seeing? The Chinese have not right to claim another country’s Indigenous people as their own.
            Historically considered Chinese in nationality is legitimate – people can have multiple nationalities so they choose. But to be considered ethnically Chinese would be another matter altogether – it would be disgusting. In what way are the Australian aboriginals connected to the British ethnicity? Likewise, in what way are the Taiwanese Indigenous peoples related to the Chinese ethnicity?
            Ethnic minorities… doesn’t that imply ethnicity?

            1. You keep saying China, China, China. I don’t know if you are talking about the Republic of China or the People’s Republic of China. Last time I checked we’re both Chinese whether we live in Taipei or Beijing. They’re being controlled by different governments. Why all the hate?

              1. There was, is, and will only ever by one China, and that’s of course the People’s Republic of China. You should know that seeing as you are Chinese. But there’s a place called Formosa Taiwan and that’s certainly not China. Last time I checked, there were Taiwanese Aborigines well before the Chinese set foot on the island. That’s tens of thousands of years ago. We’re not both Chinese. Taiwan is Taiwan. The indigenous population have the right to be called what they were originally called. Placing a name upon other people is utterly disrespectful. Do not say that those on Taiwan are Chinese, because they are not. Unless they see themselves as ethnically Chinese. Nationally, Taiwan is a rightful country with, yes, our own government. Beijing is just a big evil monster trying to gobble up victim after victim. Taiwan stands for freedom and democracy, certainly NOT Communism.

                1. Lol come on seriously? Taiwan’s official name is called the Republic of China. Whenever they try to get a place in the UN they call themselves China not Taiwan. If you didn’t know, ROC used to be the ruling power in China but it’s control has been reduced to just Taiwan now.

                  You say long before the Chinese set foot on Taiwan, there were already inhabitants there. If you’ve ever studied human evolution before, this is implicit that Taiwan aborigines still have their roots from “China”. The main point I think of this book of pictures was to show that Chinese people are collectively, people from many ethnic backgrounds, which you still don’t seem to get.

                  You keep mixing up geography with politics along with some history. You say there was only one China in the past? Wrong, China’s a geographical area where the many territories have countlessly been united as one country (albeit forcefully) and then the government falls then it breaks up and then repeats the vicious cycle of having being ruled as one kingdom then destroyed again. Just because they are communist and the ruling power is shit, doesn’t mean you can just rip on all Chinese people like that. Even Hitler had a better reason to hate on a group of people than you. Beijing was not always China’s capital either.

                  Don’t just associate all people of one country with their government’s actions only, you are forgetting that one of western culture’s biggest aspects is realizing that people are individuals at heart. So your country is only allowed to have free thinking, free-willed people only because of the government? With your thinking, no country would have ever had revolutionaries.

                  Also I think you aren’t educated at all about what Communism really is. Theoretically it is the most free and liberating government system there is, with everyone treated as equals (women were treated as equals with men in communist countries well before North America, the human rights knight in shining armor). Even Chang-Kai-Shek, was originally a communist. Obviously like many current capitalist countries and Chang-Kai-Shek realised that there were many holes in the system (Mainly human’s nature to be greedy), and fought against it.

                  I support the nationalists but it disappoints me how you are so hateful towards my kind of people.

                  Please do try to sound a little bit more humane instead of incessantly repeating the same insults to all Chinese People over and over again. Your inexplicable hatred certainly doesn’t show that you are from a developed country that stands for freedom and democracy, non-bias and transparency.

                  1. Koreans are not Chinese. This is even more true than your Taiwan vs.China debate. Our history goes back thousands of years too and we did not originate from China. Our native language is vastly different than the Han languages to start; its not even in the same family. If you’re going to include Koreans, then you might as well include the Russians and Mongolians. Most Koreans in China moved where they are from North Korea or during the Japanese occupation in recent history. Those that were there above the Yalu River from Koryo and Choson times or even before (Parhae) and three kingdoms (Koguryo, Silla, Paekche) have disappeared into distant memory.

                    1. true enough. koreans are not chinese.

                      but there are some koreans in china, just as there are some koreans in america, and just as there are some koreans in australia. likewise there are chinese in china, there are chinese in korea and there are chinese in america. and likewise there are jews in china, there are englishmen in china, and there are even taiwanese in china.

                      in today’s globalisation, ease of migration and ease of mixed marriages, human populations are no longer so segregated as separate communities. so if one is termed a chinese, it must be unambiguous, if not, it should be clearly stated.

                      ie koreans of PRC nationality. koreans of chinese nationality. but they are not chinese.

                      clear definition and reference are factual and neutral, and i would not understand why someone would have to get upset and insist in having a grey zone of not being more clearly defined, unless there is an intention of blurring the margins. if the word “chinese” carries a racial connotation, it should not be placed upon the other races without proper context, and one cannot just plonk a new definition and expect everyone to ignore the prevalent usage already existing for many centuries.

                      also, many of the other asian people do not “originate from china” as written in many posts here. they may possibly have “migrated previously from what is now within modern PRC” of which they might have moved in from somewhere else and passing by “what is now within modern PRC”. again it almost means the same thing but the implication is vastly different.

                    2. I know koreans is not chinese. Since the group is called the Korea group doesn’t mean that Korea originated from China or the people in that group are Korean!

                2. Taiwanes girl, you can say all the negative things about PR of China but they will always forgive you because China has always look upon Taiwanese as their own countrymen. There is no two ways about it. You are just like the proverbial prodigal son. See how Taiwan treat the mainland Chinese but China reciprocate with kindess and open arms. Almost total freedom to come in and out of the country with very limited documents. Why? Again they look upon you as one and the same. You are spoilt. Bad girl, you need to be spanked.

  37. Russian nationality is a Chinese minority? Come on, you crazy Chinese guys!! 🙂
    Tatar, Ewenky, Ozbek, Tajik, Kirgiz, Korea… Why don’t I see French and American as well?!

    1. russians of considerable numbers living within chinese borders for hundreds of years would be considered a ethnical minority. Had you done some basic research, your argument might contain some intelligence.

  38. @taiwanese girl… shut your stinky tofu… stop regurgitating the same ol’ shit like taiwanese parents who have nothing better to do than to spew green & blue all day long.

  39. Nice. Though Russians haven’t dressed like that or rode those horse-drawn things since Lenin died. lol Well, there are still villages in Siberia that look like that, okay. 🙂


  41. Uh, what are the people in the Han photo wearing? I wish they put them in actual hanfu, not this fugly quasi-manchu clothing.

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