Xibe Ethnic Group: Arrow shooting decides all
The ancestors of the Xibe ethnic group lived in the Hulunbuir grassland and the Nenjiang river area (within today's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region). In mid-18th century, they moved westward to Qapqal (within today's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region). Now most Xibe people live in Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County and several other counties in Xinjiang. Other Xibe people are scattered in China's northeastern region and Inner Mongolia.
Field hunting or hunting is the traditional lifestyle of Xibe people. An ancient folksong of the Xibe ethnic group named Hunting Song describes the way Xibe people live with boldness: snowflakes fly like the butterflies, hunting together on horse back, thousands of mountains they have been through, songs of victory lead hunters home.
During the slack farming-season at winter-time, Xibe people go hunting in groups. Dozens of people or people from a couple of villages might go hunting together. They adopt traditional arrow shooting skills, which are passed down from generation to generation, such as hunting for wild animals–pigs, yellow goats, rabbits, and pheasant. Hunters usually come back with an abundant catch.
One of the ancient hunting customs of Xibe people is that the hunted wild animals will be equally distributed among all of the group members no matter how many animals they have obtained. Even the passersby can get a portion. However, feet and heads of the catch should be reserved to the first shooter as an award. Since Xibe people believe that animals are gifts of the nature and they don't belong to anyone, so people cannot have them all to themselves.
Arrow shooting is a traditional sports activity for Xibe people. When a boy is born, his family members would hang up a small bow tied by a red ribbon at the house gate. When he is five or six years old, he begins to learn to ride a horse and shoot arrows. In the past, bow and arrows were used as hunting tools and combating weapons. Now arrow shooting has been developed into a kind of sports event. On holidays, slack farming seasons or weekends, people might hold different kinds of arrow shooting events.
Wrestling is one of the most popular traditional sports activities of the Xibe ethnic group. Young kids like sumo, and adults prefer wrestle. A small group constituted by three or five people might gather together competing between each other. Through this practice, a lot of famous wrestlers have stood out from the Xibe ethnic group.
Weight lifting is a way of body-building and strength competition for Xibe people. They use things from daily life. For example, the sports equipment for weight lifting might be a stone roller, a wheat package or just a giant stone. On some celebrations or events, ambitious young lads might eagerly hold a weightlifting competition. Adults and kids will all gather around them and cheer for them.
Horse racing and sheep snatching are sports activities developed by Xibe people after they move westward. On every Chinese Dragon Festival, they will hold a grandiose horse racing and sheep-snatching event. The winner of the event will be awarded at the end. Gradually, this activity is developed into a common event among different ethnic groups around the region. Till then, Xibe people have not only strengthened their physical body and willpower, but also promoted their friendly relations with other ethnic groups.
Young people of the Xibe ethnic group set up relationship through arrow shooting event. If a young lad wants to show his affection towards a girl, he needs to win the heart of the girl through competitive shooting skills. If a girl favors some young lad, she will draw the bow together with the boy. Thus, the affection between the two is conveyed and the two begin a relationship.
At the wedding banquet, the bride and bridegroom should come to each guest proposing toasts to show their gratitude toward the guests' attendance. Relatives or neighbors can feel free to come to the banquet. They could cut some meat and take it home, and the host won't charge or make any record.