Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Lissu (Li-tzu), a large nation of the province of Yunnan, south-west China, chiefly in the upper valleys of the Salwen and Mekhong rivers within the Chinese frontier. Those in the vicinity of the large towns recognise the authorities and pay regular tribute; but those of the remote hilly districts are still independent, making periodical raids on the settled populations of the plains. Fair notice, however, is given of these expeditions by an envoy, bearer of a symbolic rod, the strange devices on which are by him interpreted to the Chinese officials. Although possessing no firearms, they generally get the better of the timid peasantry, whose women and children they carry into slavery, plundering and destroying their villages. These relations have been continued for many generations, because the local mandarins, having formerly reported the utter extermination of the Lissu wild tribes, their successors are obliged to keep up the fiction for fear of incurring the wrath of the Imperial Government. Hence the Lissu are officially extinct, but in reality one of the most active and energetic peoples in China. Their weapons are a sabre six feet long, a huge round shield, and an arbalest which sends poisoned arrows farther than the bullets of any Chinese musket. Besides the paramount chief, usually a member of the kindred Mossu nation, there are numerous petty chiefs who regulate all communal affairs. All are still pagans (Shamanists) and polygamists, and much addicted to drink. They depend partly on hunting, partly on agriculture, and trade with the surrounding tribes, using a gold currency obtained from the auriferous sands of the Upper Salwen. (Desgodins, Les Swtvages Lyssou, in Bui. de la Soe. de Geo., July, 1875.)