Among China's 55 ethnic groups, the Miao are known for elaborate embroidery and exquisite work with silver. They now get a chance to flaunt their handiwork, at the Miao Silver Accessory Festival in Southwest China, where many ethnic groups live in compact communities. Over a thousand women, dressed in traditional garb, presented the show.
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.
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.
To better serve our customers' interests and needs, China Odyssey Tours has investigated and explored the ethnic tour routes in Southeast Guizhou Province and Guilin Longji Rice Terraces. Even for most Chinese people, Guizhou is kinda mysterious where most people are from many different Minorities. Among them, Miao and Dong are the two biggest that they occupy over 60% of the population. Apart from the silver accessory culture, there is much more than we expected. Due to the diversity of folk customs between different groups, there's an abundance of festivals throughout the year. And this has been the main attraction to outsiders. We were warmly welcomed by the local people and amazed by the great diversity and versatility of the customs and habits. We got the first-hand life experience of ethnic minority people and left, knowing that they are part of this world.
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 physicallycal demanding but exhilarating day. Southeast China is the place where many ethnic groups live in compact communities. So Guilin and Guizhou, both of which are famous for their unique landscape as well as a mysterious minority culture, are also ideal places for an ethnic tour.
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