Among 55 minority groups in China, the Miao is known for its exquisite silver accessories. Since 2006, the Miao Silver Accessory Festival has been held continually in Fenghuang Ancient Town of Hunan for Miao people to flaunt their handiwork.
Symbol of Wealth
Silver accessories are a standard for the Miao people. For more than 400 years, it's been the custom to decorate oneself head to toe, with silver. A full set can weigh up to ten kilograms. The purpose of wearing all this silver is of course primarily aesthetic, but they are also worn as amulets to ward off evil, and as symbols of wealth. The clothes bear a strong cultural message. The patterns range from ancient totem to historic legend. Historians view it as the "Wearable History Book".
The tradition of wearing silver is preserved by a great number of craftsmen, scattered through the Miao villages. Most of the silver accessories are made by hands in a traditional way. A silver head-piece takes a couple of months to finish. In some villages, every male is trained in silver-work. Each ornament is an exquisite work of art and sparkles with the wisdom of the Miao people. The fancy Miao silver accessories include a silver hat, silver horns, silver comb, silver ear-rings, neckband, necklace, bracelet, etc.
Traditions related to silver
It is a tradition that, when a girl is born, her parents will start saving money to make and collect fancy silver ornaments that can weigh several kilograms. And on the wedding day, the girl will be wearing these beautiful silver accessories, adding a joyful atmosphere to the happy event.
The Miao people have been deeply enamored with silver since ancient times. Silver takes special importance in Miao culture. The craft has developed into a unique art form and a carrier of the culture. Now besides for their own use, the Miao costume and accessory have developed into a unique form of folk art and become a collector's item and tourism souvenir.
Where to experience Miao's silver culture
The Miao people mainly live in the mountain areas of South China, mainly in Guizhou Province, Guangxi, the western part of Hunan, Yunnan, and Sichuan. Guizhou is said to be the homeland of Miao people. Many Miao villages can be found in Kaili, Rongjiang, and Zhaoxing of Guizhou.
Ethnic villages in Guizhou spread on the border and in the remote mountain areas. Road conditions can be difficult. The fresh mountain air, beautiful natural scenery and lots of fun climbing always make it a physically demanding but exhilarating day.
Besides, Longsheng County in Guilin is also a gathering place of Miao and other minority groups. Take one of our Guilin tours to Longsheng, and you will experience the culture of Miao and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Longji Rice Terraces.
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