Drinking Habit of Lisu Ethnic Group

“Wine of one heart” with true and deep affection

Like many other nationalities, the Lisus like to drink wine. They have two kinds of wine: watery wine and colorless spirit. They made wine by themselves before. 

Watery wine is fermented wine. The way of making it is first to pound corn, sorghum, buckwheat or barnyard millet into pieces and steam them. After they become cold, mix them with yeast, put them into a big pot and let them ferment naturally for seven or eight days. When the Lisus drink the wine, they put some water into it and filtrate it. The wine is a little bit turbid and is milky white. The alcohol content of it is not high, and it is aromatic and tastes a bit sweet. It can invigorate the function of the spleen and aid digestion, and it is useful in refreshing oneself and releasing fatigue. The wine is deeply loved by Lisu people.

Colorless spirit, called “Liji” in Lisu language, is distilled wine, which is made by putting water in fermented grain into a pot and distilling it. It is more hot and refreshing than watery wine. 

The Lisu people hold the idea that “where there is no wine, there is no courtesy.” Wine is their necessary drink in entertaining guests. According to the traditional custom, at the beginning of a wine and dine, the host should pour himself a full bamboo tube of wine and pour some to the ground, which means to offer a sacrifice to ancestors. After that, he tastes the wine to show that it is good. Finally he pour wine into guests’ cups fully one by one and hold the wine in his both hands to guests.

The most interesting custom in the Lisu’s wine and dine is nothing but drinking “wine of one heart”. “Wine of one heart” is also called ” joint-cup wine” or “both-sides wine”. This means two persons hold one tube or one bowl of wine, hug one another’s necks and shoulders, open mouths together, and drink together with faces upward, which makes the wine flow into the mouths of both the host and the guest. Men and Women are not separated in drinking ” wine of one heart”, and relatives, good friends or lovers can drink together, too. “Wine of one heart” used to be drunk in such occasions as entertaining guests, taking oaths or signing contracts, or becoming sworn brothers.

Wine of one-heart stands for unity and friendship. During feasts, if a Lisu invites you to drink one cup of wine, it shows that he has full confidence in you and he regards you as his friend.