Zhangjiajie boasts a unique landscape and characteristic folklore. The area is inhabited by the Tujia, Bai and Miao ethnic minorities, who account for 77 percent of the local population. Their folk cultures bring still more enchantment to the picturesque scenery.
Tujia people are native to the area. They live in stilted houses that add a human element to the beautiful natural surroundings. The houses are made of timber, with wooden railings and grid windows, and gray tiled roofs. A fenced courtyard generally surrounds the house, to which a slabstone path leads. Today many of these traditional houses are installed with TV sets and telephones.
The Wave Dance is a Tujia ceremonial group dance to the accompaniment of drums, gongs and singing, where dancers wave their hands and advance in the same direction to a synchronized tempo. Its origins are ancient, and it became popular during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
Back baskets are an integral aspect of the daily lives of the Tujia people and a staple form of transport in the mountains. They come in different shapes and sizes for different purposes. Babies spend a large part of their infancy in such baskets, and women also use them to carry their laundry to the stream. In recent years back baskets produced by the Tujia people have been traded at the Chinese Export Commodities Fair in Guangzhou and are in popular demand with overseas traders.