Brief Introduction of Gelao Ethnic Group

A Group named by Bamboo

Gelao, one of the ethnic minority groups in China, has a population of 437, 997. Most of them live in Wuchuan Gelao and Miao Autonomous County and Daozhen Gelao and Miao Autonomous County, Guizhou Province, and the others live in city of Guizhou, Liupanshui and Zunyi, and district of Tongren, Bijie, Anshun and Southeast Qian. Very few are scattered in Yunnan and Guangxi Province. 97% of the whole population is in Guizhou Province.

The Gelao inhabitation region is in the north of Guizhou Province, at the border of Guizhou and Sichuan, which is a slope from Yun Gui Plateau to Sichuan Basin. The landform is complex and of various kinds. The average rainfall per year is higher than that of the whole country. It is a land of large amounts of water, animal and plant resources, a fit place for agriculture and the mixed farming.

Gelao people take agriculture as their main production, rice on the plain land and various kinds of other grains in the mountains, belonging to the economic and cultural type of rice planting agriculture. 

Gelao people have a long history. Their ancestors had very close relations with “Baipu” in Shang and Zhou Dynasties down to the West Han Dynasty, and with “Pu”, “Liao” from East Han to South and North Dynasties. They were called “Qiliao”, “Geliao”, “Liao” and “Qilao” in different periods after Sui and Tang Dynasties. After the founding of the PRC, their formal name is Qilao.

They have their own language, which belongs to Sino-Tibetan family. As to the language branch and subgroup, there is still no result in the academic field. They have no writing letters of their own, and basically use Chinese characters. Nowadays only a few old people understand the Gelao language.