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Festivals of Guizhou

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Old March 15th, 2004, 04:10 PM
Edward He
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Default Festivals of Guizhou

Rich in ethnic traditions and cultures, Guizhou is worthy of its fame
as a rare ethnic museum.

An inland province in southwest China, Guizhou is in a region of
world-renowned mountainous karst landscape. With more hills than
flatlands, local farmers till their limited farmland as carefully as
embroidering. They cultivate all tillable slopes from the feet of the
hills to the top, leaving hills in cone-shaped terraces.

The small hills of Guizhou with their natural flower gardens have a
strong influence on the local Miao (Hmong) ethnic people. Their
festivals are related to flowers, such as "Stepping on the Flower
Hill" and "Dancing on the Flower Slope". The ancestors of the Miao
used to live in the Yellow River valley when the "well field system"
was in practice throughout the Central China.

Some 4,000 years ago, wars forced the Miao people to migrate
southward. Eventually they reached Guizhou. With no written
characters, the Miao language is passed down verbally. They portray
their homeland, homes and history on their costumes and adornments by
way of embroidery and wax-dyeing.

The liveliest festivals of the Miao are the courtship ones such as
"Dancing on the Flower Hill", "Sisters'Rice Festival" and "Lusheng
Festival". At these festivals, Miao girls are all dressed up in their
finest, making themselves as charming as possible to their suitors. At
the same time, the Miao boys, with their ethnic hats symbolizing manly
power, throng to the flower-strewn ground, each playing their bamboo
Lusheng instrument. In this way, Miao courtship and marriage is
carried out through songs and dances.

Guizhou is also inhabited by the Shui, Bouyi, Yao, Yi, Dong and other
ethnic groups. Like the Miao, these peoples are all migrants. In order
to retain their own ethnic cohesion and identification, they have
passed on their unique ethnic cultures and age-old customs till today.
Thus, the Drum-tower Building and Rain-and-Wind Bridge of the Dong,
the Bronze Drum of the Shui, the Stone Village and Ground Opera of the
Bouyi, the unique marriage and cave burial customs of the Yao, and the
colorful costumes and adornments of the Yi, each with its own
distinctive attraction and profound cultural connotation, enrich
Guizhou - the open-air ethnic museum.


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