Hey my Steemit friends, I hope you are all having a lovely weekend so far? =) I haven't blogged for a while since I have been tied up with a project at work for the past week, and now I'm happy to be back! This time it's not my feet itchy to travel around, but my hands itchy to write travel posts! ;)
So now let's visit a typical Miao minority ethnic region in Southwest China. Considered to be the largest living museum of the Miao primitive culture, this group of small villages - Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village is located in the mountainous region in Guizhou Province. I reached this place from Kaili, a nearby city known as the cradle of certain ethnic minorities in China.
Its name Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village literally means "a thousand household(Qianhu) by West River(Xijiang)". Since it's a well-known consolidation of typical Miao communities, the main village here can get pretty touristy. Yet it's a great cultural destination with particular charm, especially when you go to explore the less-visited surrounding hills.
The locals have been living for centuries in those wooden houses on the slopes of hills. Look at how people's residences blend with the natural settings! I was amazed by such perfect harmony. From my photos, you can see the idyllic scenery, which is even more breathtaking when all the houses are lit in warm lights at night. By then it's more obvious to tell the outline of the whole village that resembles a buffalo head. Miao people see buffalo head as an auspicious totem that wards off evil spirits. I've found this shape and symbol widely used in patterns and decorations in the village, such as the top of the traditional headpiece I tried out (pictured below).
Generation after generation, the people here work in the surrounding rice paddies and make exquisite Miao silverworks, batiks and embroideries. They chase away bad spirits with silver jewelry, and cure their illness with all kinds of Miao herbal medicine from the dense mountain forests.
They celebrate life events with plenty of local festivals, when people (mostly women) put on their finest silver jewelry and embroidered costumes. I tried out one copy with fake silver jewelries (pictured above), and it's not that easy to walk around with the huge headpiece and all those bling bling decorations. You can imagine how heavy it is when it's genuine silver all over your body, but well, like always, many are willing to pay a price for looking good. ;) Plus it's a cool tradition to wear this on festive days, and the girls might be happy to dress up when there were not many choices in clothing or accessories in deep mountains in the early times...
In events like wedding, celebration of new-borns and village gathering, Miao people have a traditional way of sharing food called Long Table Banquet. The hosts are supposed to sit at the left side of the table and the guests at the right side. Besides enjoying the delicious local delicacies like fish in sour soup, cured meat, ham and sausages..., the hosts toast the guests with rice wine and folk songs. Imagine hundreds of people sitting around a long table to share all the food and joy. Sounds fun, isn't it? :) I didn't get the chance to witness a big event like that, but only found this dining etiquette being applied in many restaurants in the village.
In these festivals and celebrations, Miao people is also known for their colorful traditional singing and dancing. In my coming posts I'd love to share the video clips of their lively performance.
The most typical architectures in Miao villages are the wooden stilted houses(Diao Jiao Lou 吊脚楼) and Wind & Rain Bridges(Feng Yu Qiao 风雨桥), as you can see from my photos below.
Like most visitors, I stayed in a beautiful guest house modified from a local building. The wooden stilted houses are usually built on a 30-70 degree mountain slope without any nails and rivets. What a smart way to fit into the environment, and it creates the magnificent views for both the inhabitants and people watching from afar.
There are normally three floors in a building for different uses. The lowest floor is for raising poultry and livestock, storing tools, etc. The second floor is the living space, with central room, bedroom, kitchen and place for making embroidery. The top floor is used to store grain, fodder and other goods.
The five Wind & Rain Bridges are crossing the main river in the village. They are popular venues for villagers as well as visitors to have a rest. Just like the rest, I loved enjoying the different but equally fabulous views from these bridges both during daytime and at night. They are built based on “Feng Shui” (风水) in Chinese culture to bring good luck and convenience to the locals. These bridges used to be built in wooden structures without any nails, but now they are rebuilt in more sturdy concrete and wood to withstand floods.
I was walking along the Xijiang river that snakes through the village, and it's sad to see the polluted unclear water. I witnessed some restaurants by the banks directly discharging waste water into the river:
Tourism has brought new opportunities for the Miao villagers, but I've seen locals stick to their traditional ways of living, not just for the tourists.
I had a chat with the sweet old lady from this hilltop guest house and batik workshop. She told me some interesting old traditions in their Miao villages, such as the sacrificial ceremony and agricultural meetings hosted by hereditary heads. She also recalled how she met her husband from her village nearby and moved here after marriage, and how things have changed since this place was listed as a cultural heritage site.
All content by @itchyfeetdonica
图文 by Donica多
Thank you for reading. Please tell me what you think in the comments. Until next time! =)
Here are some screenshots from my Instagram. Follow @ItchyfeetDonica for more adventures around the globe !
!steemitworldmap 26.490989 lat 108.173168 long Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village, China d3scr