Miao Ethnic Minority Group in Guizhou

Guizhou is home to dozens of ethnic minority groups. One of the largest is the Miao ethnic minority group. Over 3,600,000 people, half of China's Miao population live in Guizhou. With a history of over 4,000 years, the Miao are one of the oldest of China's minority groups. The Miao minority group can be found not only in Guizhou, but also in Hainan, Hubei, Sichuan, Gansu, Guizhou, Qinghai, Hunan, Guangdong, Yunnan, and Guangxi.

In subgroups who live in Guizhou, the Black Miao, Big Flowery Miao, Small Flowery Miao, and White Miao. Living mainly in mountainous regions, the Miao people live off farming and animal husbandry. The Miao people are famous for their hospitality, and community spirit. Families will work on each other's farms during harvesting or planting seasons, and during construction projects, half of the village will show up to help on the project.

The Miao people have several different dialects and did not have a written language until the 1950s. Before that history, traditions, and customs were passed on by singing and dancing. There are several subgroups in the Miao minority group. They are named for their unique clothing. 

As with all Chinese minority groups, the Miao ethnic minority group has distinctive and beautiful clothing. The men of the Miao ethnic group wear short jackets and trousers. The Miao women wear a blouse or long coat, long trousers with at least one skirt, broad waistbands, embroidered shoes, and various silver pieces attached to the clothing. Of special note are the headdresses worn by the women.

Beautiful Clothes in the Miao GroupBeautiful Clothes in the Miao Group

When a couple has a daughter, they will immediately start saving money to have a silver headdress made that can often weigh more than 10 Kilograms. According to tradition, silver is a symbol of light and can scare off evil spirits and during a daughter's first bath, a piece of silver is dropped into the water to ensure the child will be healthy and wealthy.

Miao people are known for their embroidery. Young Miao girls are taught to embroider by their grandmother. To complete a complete set of Miao clothing usually takes a woman one to two years. Because the Miao people did not have a written language many of their legends, religion, and stories are incorporated into their embroidery designs. The most impressive piece of clothing is saved for major festivals. It is known as the Miao hundred bird coat. It is embroidered with hundreds of birds and dragons.

The Miao minority group has numerous festivals each year. The biggest celebrations are held in the Town of Kaili. In Guizhou's town of Kaili, there are over 130 annual festivals held by various minority groups. The Miao hosts one of the largest known as the Lusheng Festival. It is held from the 11th to the 18th of the first lunar month on the Chinese calendar. The lusheng is a reed instrument used by the Miao people. As the name suggests, this festival is largely about music. Around 1,000 people play the lusheng together. It is a marvelous site.

Lusheng FestivalLusheng Festival

The festival also has dancing, drumming, bullfighting, and horse racing. Annually around 30,000 people participate in the festival, many of the visitors from other countries. The Miao New Year celebration is held during the first four days of the 10th month on the Chinese calendar. Over 50,000 people attend this festival. The festivals are lively, colorful, and visitors are always graciously welcomed to join in the festivities.

The Miao ethnic minority group is just one of the many minority groups in Guizhou Province. Their colorful traditions are alive and well. Almost every visitor to Guizhou quickly becomes enchanted by the generosity and culture of the Miao minority group. Come to Guizhou and see what you can discover.

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