WildChina > WildChina > Who are China’s Miao people?

Unless you are an expert on Asian anthropology, you probably are not aware of the various ethnic communities living in China. Below is a brief introduction to the history, culture, and most importantly, the major festivals of the Miao people, the second-largest population of ethnic communities residing in Guizhou:

Known throughout the rest of Southeast Asia, the Miao people are able to trace their Chinese roots back more than four-thousand years. Though initially, they were located in the western part of Henan province and the eastern edge of Guizhou, both migration and being taken captive have resulted in the scattering of the Miao people to various parts of China’s southwest, including the Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan Provinces.

Who are China's Miao people?

The formation of distinct “pockets” throughout the mainland has led to subtle variations within the Miao culture itself. The disparities between the Miao people of different provinces is most clearly visible in the variation of traditional dress for both men and women. For example, the woolen cloaks and linen jackets that distinguish the Miao men of one province may not even be donned by those of another. Though the differences in male fashion are quite noticeable, they are unsurprisingly out done by the innumerable variations in the overall style and extravagance found amongst female Miao fashion. Even though a skirt is seemingly simple, within the Miao wardrobe, there is a wide selection in terms of pleating, length, hues, and patterns.

Who are China's Miao people?

Though major festivals are in essence a time for celebration, the fashionable Miao women see these festivities as  somewhat similar to New York Fashion Week. In order to stand out in the crowd, every woman must pull out all of the stops to look her best. Not only do skirts become even more vividly hued and floral patterns even more captivating, the Miao women keenly add an extra element to finish off their already vogue-worthy attire. Whether one lives on the Upper East Side or in a small Guizhou village, every girl knows that no outfit is complete without the perfect amount of sparkle to catch the attention of every pair of male eyes in the room. With their impeccable accessories, ranging from show-stopping head dresses that shimmer in the sunlight to an uncountable assortment of well-crafted silver jewelry, the Miao women are able to give even the most avid collector of Tiffany and Co. a run for her money.

Who are China's Miao people?

Even though tastes in fashion may differ depending on province, something that remains consistent regardless of location is the overarching love that the Miao people have for both singing and dancing. At no time is this fondness for celebration more clearly evident than during their major festivals, the two most important being the Lusheng and the Sister’s Meal Festivals.

The Lusheng Festival, which takes place during the Fall, is a time of coming together. Miao groups from all over the mainland converge in Guiyang for a wild celebration consisting of energy-filled horse racing, exhilarating bull fighting, and most importantly, entrancing performances of the Lusheng, a traditional wood wind instrument.

Who are China's Miao people?

The Sister’s Meal Festival, which takes place in early Spring, highlights the undying passion that the Miao people have for singing, specifically through the lively songs that are sung back and forth between Miao men and women. In addition to these beautiful exchanges of verse, lovebirds may also share tokens of love as acknowledgements of their affection for each other. For the younger Miao people, all you really need is love.

Who are China's Miao people?

Although they may be hidden in the southwest corner of China, the colorful dress, multifaceted culture, and riveting festivals of the Miao people are hands down, some of the most memorable throughout China and definitely not ones to be missed.


If you have any questions about either the Miao people or travel to Guizhou feel free to send us an email info@wildchina.com

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