This morning we head north towards Longsheng County to visit the famed long-haired red Yao tribe and the Longji rice terraces. There are about 80 households of red Yao minority tribe in Huangluo Village also known as “Long Hair Village”. The Yao ethnic minority are divided into several branches with the Red Yao who favor red clothes and others who favor blue clothes or white trousers etc. The young Yao women in Huangluo Village like to dress in red tops with black dresses while the elderly women dress mainly in black. It is a red Yao custom for all the women to have long hair with an average length of 2 meters. Long hair for them carries the meaning of prosperity and longevity and they only trim it twice in their lives. The first time at their one-hundred-day birthday and the second time at their 18th birthday. They apparently collect the dropped hairs and bunch them together with their trimmed hair and tie these bunches to the hair on their heads like wearing a hat. They all have pitch-black shiny hair, even the older ladies, owing to the special way they comb their hair and the special shampoo of herbs and water from washing rice they use. They all take great care of their hair and the secret method is passed from generation to generation. Traditionally, an unmarried woman’s hair cannot be seen by others and is covered with a headscarf except during the March 3rd Festival when they wash and comb out their hair by the river. A woman’s husband should be the first man to see her hair on their wedding day. In the past, it is said that if a man accidentally saw a woman’s hair, he would have to become the son-in-law and stay at the woman’s family for three years. Similar to some African tribes, you can tell a woman’s marital status by her hairstyle. Young unmarried women wear their hair under a headscarf. Married women without children wear their hair in two braids. While married women with children wrap their hair around their heads like a turban and wear it with a bun in the front. We met a red Yao grandma who is 86 years old and a weaver in the village. She sits inside her little shop everyday weaving and making handicrafts and of course posing for photos if you buy something from her shop 😀
When you visit the village, they normally rope you into one of their dance performances with male audience participation in the end with some ass pinching and ass bumping which supposedly is their way of showing friendliness and warm reception. We skipped the show and instead wandered around the small village and got to visit the inside of the oldest house in town. I saw this old grandma looking down from her balcony and asked if I could come up and take some photos. She said ok as long as we bought some of her handicrafts. You will notice everyone in China, whether young or old, are very business-minded 😀
The best part of village visits is to talk to the locals and learn about their culture and traditions. I learned a great deal about the red Yaos from the owner of the restaurant where we had lunch. The red Yaos are a matriarchal society where children take the last name of their mothers. Most of the red Yaos here have the last names of Pan or Zhai. Women can have multiple husbands while men can only have one wife. The owner of the restaurant, a late 30s early 40s woman, told me that to Yao women, men are only good for two things: hard labor and reproduction. She said men to the Yao women are just like livestock (her words literally), unimportant, and not even allowed to sit at the table with the women during meals. She told us that even her great grandfather squats by the kitchen fire like the other men to have their meals. In the past, Yao men would work for free for 3 years in the fields of the woman’s family before being eligible to become a son-in-law. I asked her what is most important to the Yao people and she said filial piety. She said if you are not good to your parents and elders, even your neighbors won’t help you in times of need. I find this so true and that unfortunately it is not something many of the younger generations prioritize or deem important. She also proudly told us that even though the Yao tribe is quite small, the Yao people are feared by the Zhuang tribe as well as the Han people because they can curse anyone who harms them. It is not scary voodoo where people die mysteriously or bleed from their eyes. Not that kind of thing. Rather, the person who has wronged a Yao will have a stomach ache and suffer discomfort all the time which even doctors cannot cure. All this person has to do is to apologize and offer a cup of tea and if the cup of tea is received by the Yao, the curse will be removed. Brilliant punishment! I could really have sat there all day listening to her stories but unfortunately we had to press on to the rice terraces.
Next post will be on the Longji Rice Terraces. Stay tuned!
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