With a population of 33,936 (in 2000), the Achang ethnic minority lives mainly in the Dehong Dai - Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. They lived in the reaches of Nu River as long ago as the 2nd century, and then migrated southwest to the present Longchuan and Lianghe Counties.
As one of the earliest people, they have their own language, which has no written form. Over time, they have accepted the language of the Dai ethnic minority as well as the written and spoken Mandarin of the Han people.
The Achang people--though kind, mild, and warmhearted--are good at forging iron weapons especially cutting tools.
Young men who are unmarried wear their hair short with a black or white coif cap. Married men traditionally wear a navy blue one. Women wear distinctive clothing and headwear with flower patterns. Girls have long, braided hair until they marry. Afterwards, they will wear a chignon 0.5 meter high - the highest chignon among women of Chinese ethnic minorities.
The Achang people are proud of their quality rice and can make many kinds of delicious food from it. Along with rice, they also enjoy fried fish made from fish that live in the water of the paddy fields. They also drink yellow wine and alcohol, which tastes quite mellow.
In the past, most of Achang people believed in Hinayana Buddhism, and they have their own customs to celebrate their festivals. In common with the Dai ethnic minority, the Water-splashing Festival is the best opportunity for young people to choose a mate for life. Every 24th day of the sixth lunar month is the Torch Festival. On that day, people enjoy rice noodles with pork and travel throughout their neighborhoods at night holding bright torches.