In the Southern Chinese province of Guiyang, there is a small number of exceptionally remote and traditional villages of the Miao people. The third one Jimmy visited was the Miao BiaSha. Despite China’s extraordinary advances in the modern age, the authorities have begun to realize the cultural importance and potential value of this heritage.
Nestled between the green, bamboo-clad hilltops live the Miao people.
The hair of Biasha Miao boys is not cut until they are around 16 years old, when their heads are shaved during a rite of passage ceremony. A sickle is used to remove all the hair except an area around the crown. When this is complete, the boy becomes a man.
Yangshuo County is a county under the jurisdiction of Guilin City, in the northeast of Guangxi, China. Its seat is located in Yangshuo Town. Surrounded by karst peaks and bordered on one side by the Li River it is easily accessible by bus or by boat from nearby Guilin. Cormorant fishing is a traditional fishing method in which fishermen use trained cormorants to fish in the Li river. Cormorant fishing has taken place in Japan and China since about 960 AD.
Cormorant fishing is a traditional fishing method in which fishermen use trained cormorants.
To control the birds, the fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird's throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When a cormorant has caught a fish in its throat, the fisherman brings the bird back to the boat and has the bird spit the fish up. Though cormorant fishing once was a successful industry, its primary use today is to serve the tourism industry.
The Langde Miao people are immediately recognizable for their extravagant silver jewellery. As well as being a display of wealth, wearing the silver is said to offer protection against evil spirits. The accessories that girls and women wear include handmade crowns, earrings and horns – the headpiece alone can take several months to make.
The Langde Miao are celebrated for their extravagant cultural ornamentation.
Traditionally, when a daughter is born, her parents start saving to collect the silver ornaments that will decorate her crown on her wedding day. A full set of silver jewellery can weigh up to fifteen kilos. Despite China’s extraordinary advances in the modern age, the authorities have begun to realize the cultural importance and potential value of this heritage.
The Longhorn Miao are known for their impressive headpieces which are made by wrapping woollen strands around a large horn-shaped wooden comb. The headpieces were originally made from the hair of ancestors, in order to keep them close, and they would be preserved for up to four generations.
Even in ever-modernizing China, small pockets of ancient traditions survive
Nowadays most headpieces are made of wool, but some of the originals have been preserved. The shape of the headpieces is derived from the oxen and water buffalo that play such an important part in Miao agricultural life.