Introduction / History The Prinmi people live scattered over an area reaching from Southern Sichuan Province to Northern Yunnan Province. In Sichuan, they are classified as Tibetan; in Yunnan, they are classified as Prinmi. The area ranges in altitude between 1800 to 4500 meters above sea level. Many villages in the southwest of Sichuan are still remote and inaccessible by vehicle. The Prinmi are mainly agriculturalists who grow a variety of crops (maize, potatoes, wheat, (highland) rice, barley, oats, beans, squash and turnips) and practice animal husbandry. Animals include pigs, chickens, cattle, horses, mules and to a lesser extent goats and sheep. In some of the higher pastoral areas, Prinmi make a living as yak herders. The yaks are raised for their milk which is turned into yak butter, a basic ingredient in yak butter tea.
In recent years, many young people have gone all over China in search of unskilled labor jobs and a large percentage of the children have left the village to go to school. Thus, in some villages those segments of the population are not present for most of the year. The further north one travels, the stronger the Tibetan Buddhist influence gets. People are in fear of ghosts which can inflict sickness, and worship mountain deities which in turn extend protection. Families normally have a household shrine on the side of the mountain where offerings and prayers for protection are made. In some areas households have a special room upstairs dedicated to the Buddha. Religious specialists include Buddhist monks (lamas), reincarnations of the Buddha (living Buddha's), shamans who interact with the more animist layer of the culture, and spirit mediums. The majority of Prinmi practice cremation and souls are said to return to the land of the ancestors.
A widespread, isolated area of southwest Sichuan Province is home to approximately 39,000 Chrame people. Most are located in and around Muli County, described as "a rich possession. The rivers, especially the Litang, carry gold and produce a considerable revenue." Scattered Chrame communities are found as far west as the Yarlung (Dadu) River at Shimian, 200 kilometers (123 mi.) from Muli and as far north as Wenchuan County. In addition, a small number of Chrame live in the Yongning District of Ninglang County in northern Yunnan Province. The Chrame king once "held sway over a territory of 9,000 square miles - an area slightly larger than Massachusetts." (Source: Operation China, 2000)