Many Jings are believers of Buddhism or Taoism, with a few followers of Catholicism. They also celebrate the Lunar New Year – Spring Festival – and the Pure Brightness Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival like the Hans.
The ancestors of the Jings emigrated from Vietnam to China in the early 16th century and first settled on the three uninhabited lands since the neighborhood had been populated by people of Han and Zhuang ethnic group. Shoulder to shoulder with the Hans and Zhuangs there, they developed the border areas together and sealed close relations in their joint endeavors over the centuries.
There used to be some taboos, such as stepping over a fishing net placed on the beach, sitting on a new raft before it was launched, and stepping on the stove. But many old habits that hampered the growth of production have died out bit by bit.
The Jing (Gin) ethnic minority has a small population of only 22,517, according to the census taken in 2000. Most live on the three islands of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the rest live and mingle with the Han, Zhuang and Yao ethnic groups.
The Jing ethnic minority is a branch of the Yue nationality of Vietnam, so their spoken language is similar to Vietnamese while borrowing lots from the Chinese.
Most of the Jing people believe in Taoism together with some thoughts of Buddhism and wizardry. Their beliefs greatly influence their lives. They believe there are many gods who control their life; such as the god who is said to have made Manito to pacify the sea.
Jing people live mainly from fishing and farming. Whenever the men launch their fishing boats, the old people, and the women and children, see them off with prayers. After eons of practice, they have become experts at all kinds of fish and fishing methods. They also grow crops such as rice, sweet potatoes, corn, taro, peanuts, and fruits like banana, longan, pawpaw, pineapple, etc.
Their staple foods are rice and seafood. Sticky rice and sugary foods are also favorites. Nianzhi, a kind of seasoning made from fish, is the most traditional and representative. Men of the Jing ethnic minority have the habit of smoking while women chew betel nuts.
The Jing’s clothes are simple but beautiful. They choose silk and gauze as the main materials. Women usually wear a tall spire hat to avoid the strong sunshine and rain.
Changha Festival is the most magnificent festival of the Jing ethnic minority. Changha, in the Jing language, means singing. Varying from region to region, the festival date is not fixed. But on that day, all the women wear their flowery dresses and gather to sing in many forms. Duxian Qin (single-stringed harp) is their unique musical instrument, which together with Changha and bamboo dance are reputed as the three pearls of Jing art.
The Jing ethnic minority also celebrates Spring Festival . On New Year’s Eve, all the families prepare dinner in advance, and in the afternoon they get together to hold memorial ceremonies for ancestors and set off firecrackers and then worship their ancestors. On the first day of the New Year, they go to the well and pray for new water but do not give greetings to relatives or neighbors until the following day. These activities last until the fifteenth day of the month when sacrifices of pigs, chickens, and fish are offered to their gods.
On the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, the Jing ethnic minority people worship again their ancestors and gods in a way similar to the Han people.
On the tenth day of the tenth month after the harvest, the Jing people will cook with new rice and enjoy it with all their family members. This also indicates a hope that next year they will continue to have a good harvest.
Some other traditional customs are that when the fishing nets are put on the shore, people are forbidden to walk over them; when they go out to chop wood and take rice with them, they must avoid dropping the rice; after supper and the lamp has been lit, they do not like visitors to come and borrow money; if the meal is burnt, they never say it is ‘jiao’ (meaning burnt), for fear that their relatives might shipwreck their boat on the rocks as the word is pronounced the same as ‘reef’ in their language.