Population and Distribution:
The Mulam ethnic minority has a relatively small population of 207,352 and inhabits mainly the Mulam Autonomous County in Guangxi Province. The remainder of the population lives among other ethnic groups, such as the Han, Zhuang, Miao, Yao, Shui and Maonan. Records show that the history of this ethnic minority can be traced back to the Jin Dynasty (265 - 420).
Language and Character:
Mulam, (Mulao in Chinese pronunciation) means mother. The Mulam language is similar to that of the Dong, Shui and Maonan, and most of speakers of Mulam can also speak Chinese and the Zhuang language. The written language is Chinese.
The Mulam ethnic minority has no unified system of religious beliefs. They believe in natural spirits and are influenced by Buddhism and Taoism.
The mountainous area in which the Mulam people live provides excellent growing conditions for rice, which is their primary crop. Coal excavation provides work for so many Mulam people that their town is called 'Town of Coal'. In addition, the Mulam people are quite good at iron forging and pottery making, especially the casting of knives, an art they have been practicing for hundreds of years.
Rice and corn are their staple foods. Usually they eat porridge for breakfast and a more lavish dinner. They like to eat cold foods along with acidic and spicy dishes, so bean soy sauce and pickled vegetables are among their most popular dishes. Their everyday pottery is a delicate ware, examples of which may be presented as gifts to visitors.
The Mulam people celebrate many festivals. On the first day of the lunar New Year, they eat sumptuous dinners; on the second day, they invite friends and relatives, and married women return to their parents' homes. On the third day of the third lunar month, they celebrate again in the villages. On the eighth day of the fourth month, they worship their god by letting their oxen have a rest while feeding them delicious glutinous rice. On the fifth day of the fifth month, they celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival to ensure a good harvest. The middle of the eighth month is considered to be a good time for the youth to choose lovers. The 'Yifan Festival' is celebrated every year by individual families and on a grander scale every three years in the whole village. As part of the 'Yifan Festival', the Mulam people improvise ballads and dances, hoping that their ancestors will bless them with peace.