Identity Although this group simply calls itself Laluo in their own language, the Chinese call them Jiantou Yi or Jiantou Laluo to distinguish them from the Mishaba Laluo who live in the same general area. Jiantou is a Chinese term meaning "cone head" and is applied to this group because of their custom of wearing large, cone-shaped turbans. Married Jiantou Laluo women also wear small, green ceramic cones on their foreheads. Although the government has included the Jiantou Laluo as part of the Yi nationality, neighboring people do not consider them Yi. They call them Maganfang, after a place name in the Jiantou Laluo region. The Jiantou Laluo are a different ethnic and language group from the Mishaba Laluo.
History Little is known about the history of the Jiantou Laluo. Because they have no written language, no records have been kept of their migrations and experiences.
Customs Jiantou Laluo women retain their traditional dress, "which is predominantly green with intricate embroidery and silver-colored sequins plotted out pleasantly on their blouses - all complimented by a unique headdress."
Religion The Jiantou Laluo are animists. They seem to have something of a fixation on spiders and have several legends involving them. One states that long ago a group of Laluo girls hid in a cave to escape the evil advances of a group of soldiers. As soon as they entered the cave, a spider came down and spun a web over the cave entrance, prohibiting the soldiers from entering. In honor of the insects, many Jiantou Laluo women embroider patterns of spiders on their clothing and headdress.
Christianity There are believed to be a few Jiantou Laluo Christians, meeting in the Three-Self church in Dali Township. The large majority of this group, however, are completely unaware of the existence of Christianity. Because of their Hui neighbors, they have had more exposure to Islam than to Christianity.
A total of 30,000 Jiantou Laluo live in three counties within the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. About half (15,000) live in Weishan County, 7,000 in Midu County, and 8,000 in Xiaguan County which encompasses the ancient town of Dali. The Jiantou Laluo mostly live in high mountains. (Source: Operation China, 2000)