Some Miao Folklore - 2
Notes by our friend
Jessy Zhang on Miao festivals and marriage customs give us a
delightful view of life among Southwestern China's minority
groups. Reading of Miao rituals enables us to see their
elaborate costumery in a different light. Since Miao groups are
spread over large areas, customs differ from group to group, and
here we present just a sampling, in Jessy's own words.
For notes on textile imagery, go back to Some
Miao Folklore - 1.
To see a selection of Miao textiles from our gallery inventory, go to
Minority Textiles, Miao and Others. For other
textiles, go to our HOME page.
||Some Background on the
The Miao are an
international ethnic group, living currently not only in China,
but also in Thailand, Laos and Viet Nam. Some have migrated into
Europe, South America, the US and Australia. In China they
are concentrated in Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi,
Hubei and Hainan provinces. According to a Chinese census of
1990, 3,686,900 Miao were living in Guizhou province-- above 50%
of the total in China. In Taijiang, a town in Guizhou province,
97% of the people were Miao.
About 5,000 years ago, Miao lived in the Yellow River area, but
were then forced to move to the Changjiang River area. About
4,000 years ago they finally settled in Sichuan, Yunnan and
Guizhou areas, separating into several different cultural groups
that are still related through some of their activities.
|According to the Chinese
calendar, Miao have 15 various festivals, but some of the dates
differ from place to place.
|Miao people have their
own polite ways to treat others. They invite guests with chicken
and ducks, especially to the guests who are from far away.
Drinking cow horn wine is the first step. The chicken heart will
be eaten by the oldest guest, the chicken legs are for the
youngest guest. In some places, at the table, the oldest owner
will use a pair of chopsticks to cut off the chicken or duck
heart for one of the guests, but the guest cannot eat it by
himself (herself); he or she must share it with all the old
persons at the table. If the guest couldn't drink more, or
doesn't like much fat meat, he must tell the owner ahead of
time; the owner will not push the guest any more. But the guests
must be sure to be starved; otherwise it would mean not to
respect the owner.
|The Miao are a polite
nationality. They walk after you when on a narrow road. They use
respectful words while talking. They wear festival dresses, set
up wine dinner tables in front of the village gate to welcome
guests. When the guests are near their home, the man of the
family will advise the woman ahead of time, and the woman will
sing songs to welcome the guests to come in.
||Miao Sister Festival
||In every spring season,
women invite others to have sister dinners. Different
regions have different dates.
In the morning, women get up early to clean the rooms. After the
breakfast they do fishing. Wherever they do the fishing, the
owner of the pool cannot stop them or swear at them. If they catch a rice fish
and the owner wants to keep it, he needs to change it back with
chicken and duck or bacon. Men can help women to do the fishing
or even play with them while they are fishing.
At noon the women come
back from fishing. Together they steam the sister rice, cook the
fishes, chickens, gooses, prepare to welcome their guests. If
there are any men's groups being invited to the meal, women set
up a big long table (about 4 or 5 meters long), fully put all
the fishes and meats on the table, and put colorful triangle
flags on the fishes or meats not cut into pieces. In the middle
of the dishes, there is a huge bowl of five-colored sister rice.
When they eat the rice, they use their hands instead of
chopsticks. In the middle on the table, there are two plates of
||In the afternoon, women
dress up. They put on their carefully embroidered dress,
with silver horn, silver pins and silver hat on head, wear
silver necklaces, earrings, bracelets. The total weight of their
silver ornaments all over the whole body is about 5 to 10 kg.
They gather in the square, circle with a wooden drum, dance the
drum dance according to the drumbeats. They dance back and
forth, left and right, turn around, go into the middle, etc.,
while dancing while singing, while showing their embroidered
beautiful dresses, rich silver ornaments, their beautiful
bodies, as well as their winning sounds.
In the evening, every
family in the village invites their guests. They are drinking,
singing, laughing. According to the tradition, they don't care
if you are not a Miao nationality, do not speak their language,
they invite you as the same as their own, with meats and wine
and sister rice.
||When old people are
telling their stories, memories of their past times, young
people finish their meals in a hurry and dated out/ or got
together. They are "flying singing" till midnight. In
the middle, women go back home, to take their sister rice out to
men. Women put objects into the rice, to pass on their
ideas to men. For instance, they put chopsticks into the rice,
meaning they wanted to date with the men; corns say they want
embroidering thread in return from the men. Pine needles show
that embroidering needles are needed; a bamboo hook signifies a
hope for more communications, a forked twig, meaning to cancel this
love relationship. Even when a woman is not satisfied with a
man, she gives him a smile face, inviting him to have sister
|The Miao Dragon
Boating Festival in Taijiang
|Quingshui River looks
like a green silk belt, twines round ten towns towards the east.
It's 136 meters wide at low water level, and 160 meters in
high water level. During June and July, velocity of flow
reaches 3.18 meters per second; in summer the water depth is 3
to 5 meters. Most of the area where the Qingshui River is
passing by are hills, mountains, rocks and rapids. About 60 to
70 villages of Miao are located along the river banks. Every
year in Dragon Boating Festivals, about 30 to 40 thousand nearby
people get together here, wearing their festival dresses, to
celebrate their important festival for four days.
Before the festival's coming, after the farm work, people start
to clean their rooms, making zongzi (a pyramid-shaped
dumpling made of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves,
eaten during the dragon boat festival), cooking, preparing to
welcome their guests. In 1962 there were 28 dragon boats in the
river, in late 80s, there were 35 dragon boats
Dragon Boating Festival Folk Story
Here's the folk story. Long time ago an old man called
Bao Gong lived near the river. One day he did fishing,
together with his only son, called Jia Bao. Suddenly a
cloud covered the sky, strong wind made huge river
waves, a bad dragon jumped out of the river, pulled his
son down into the dragon cave. The old man was frighten
very much, dived into the water immediately to save his
son. But it was too late. The dragon had already bitten
the kid to death, put his body as a pillow. And the
dragon was into deep sleep.
|The old man was extremely
mad and decided to avenge his son. He was swimming back home,
got some flint and straw, and dived back again to the dragon
cave. He made a fire and killed the dragon. But the smoke of the
fire covered the whole sky in Qing Shui River.
|Later on, the heavy rain
lasted nine days and nights. It was dark all the days: chickens
couldn't eat rice and cows couldn't eat grass in the darkness,
and men couldn't do the farm work either. They did nothing but
worry. At that time, a woman, with her kid went to the
river bank, doing the washing in the dark weather. The kid was
hold the washing robe, and played it over the water, while
saying, "Dong Don Duo! Dong Don Duo!" Everyone was
shocked. As soon as the kid said this, the cloud was gone away,
a bright light appeared in the east, the sun was rising slowly.
They were happy and cheered.
|Later, a huge colorful,
close-eyed monster was floating in the river. The crowd rushed
to it, and realized that that was the fire-died bad dragon. Some
brave people cut the dragon's meat, smoked it and ate it.
It was tasty. So lots of people came up and tried the taste. So
the dragon's whole body was separated by every village, some got
the head, some got the neck, some got the tail. And the latest
arrived village got the gut. It was in green color. So
that's why the dragon boats later were colored in green.
|That night the dragon
went into the people's dreams and said, "I hurt the old
man's only son, and lost my own life also. I beg you all to do
me a favor: Use China fir, based on my body to make a boat,
boating along the Qingshui River for days, just like I'm still
alive. And I will arrange with the clouds, get it rained, let
you have a good harvest." People trusted him.
According to his words, they made a small boat, did the boating.
It worked. It rained. They were happy so much and started to
make dragon boats. At the beginning, they decided to do the
boating village by village, according to the dragon parts which
they got, saying the head part first, the gut part last. But it
was just in the busiest harvest time. In order to save time,
they changed the date and rule. The next year it was arid.
They thought it might be because they had changed the rule. So
they changed it back. This custom has been kept till today.
Boating Festival Today
Normally each village has a
dragon boat, and villages in which over 200 people live
have two or three boats. The warehouse for a dragon boat
is sized about 25.6 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, 3.24
THE DRUMMER MASTER
One village has one drummer, and gets him changed every
year. The drummer will be taken turns by one of the
members who is involved in the dragon boat owner group.
Every year, as soon as the dragon boating festival is
over, the drummer will kill a pig, invite the villagers
to drink, and find out the new drummer for the next
festival. And the old drummer will send the drum and
dragon head to the new drummer's home. In some villages
the drummers' turns are usually taken by the big
families, and the drummer's position would be taken by
the oldest person in this turned family, if he is still
alive. If he gives it up, the second oldest one will
take his position. Normally, no one will give it up
when in turn, because there are too many families in a
village; it needs years, even one hundred years to get
the turn. It's lucky to get two turns in the whole life.
Most of the drummers have too many relatives, because
whenever the dragon boat is passing by a certain
village, the drummer will get lots of gifts from his
relatives or friends. It's a good chance to show his
good personal relationship, to raise up his social
position. It would be better for his children's
marriages. Also, with those gifts, he could make his
|The person who is
recommended to be the drummer will prepare some candies, and go out
to inform his relatives and friends. His relatives and friends
will prepare the gifts for the next festival. The gifts are
domestic animals, domestic fowls, fireworks or a 3 meters long
red silk and satin cloth. The son-in-law has to give a pig
as his gift. His direct relatives give a sheep; others
give goose or duck to the drummer.
|The procedure is like
this. When the dragon boat is driven into the village, the
people will move their gifts to the river banks. As soon as the
boat is stopped, the gift person fires the fire works, ties the
red satin on the dragon's horn, offers a cup of wine to the
drummer, and then to all the members on the boat. Finally, he
moves all the gifts onto the boat.
|The drummer will get a
lot of gifts this day, but he has to spend a lot also. He is
responsible for the meals with drinking for all the boating
persons. When finished the boating, he has to kill a pig,
prepare wine, invite the villagers and guests. When his
relatives and friends get back home, he has to give chickens or
ducks back to those who gave him pigs or sheeps.
|THE MANUFACTURE OF THE
The date of cutting the tree is in dragon year, some day of
October. Before doing this, people prepare some sticky
rice, one alive cock, one alive male duck, one piece of meat,
one piece of black cloth, one silk thread, one hemp, one pot of
wine, incense and papered money. Those are going to be used for
praying to the tree god. Whenever the China fir is chosen, they
wrap the tree trunk with the black cloth and silk thread, put
the wine and the rice on the earth at the foot of the tree, fire
the incense and papered money, pour the duck blood to the trunk
to pray to the mountain god and the tree god. A
recommended old man who has
the full generations prays to the tree, saying "Lucky China
fir, forget our villagers to cut you for making the dragon boat.
Hope you could protect us to be safe and rich." When the
prayer is finished, a lucky man does the first cut. Then others
start the cutting and lead the tree down to the north, to mean
|When the tree is moved
into the village, the villagers prepare wine, meat and colorful
silk thread to welcome the dragon boat wood, as well as the
cutting person. On the way of shipping the wood back, the people
nearby will use the wine to welcome, together with duck and
goose. They tie a one meter long red satin cloth on the wood,
while singing, while moving. When they arrive at the village
they shout, "Here comes the dragon!"
|They find a good date to
start manufacturing. Before starting, they use white chicken,
fire incense and paper to pray to the protection god, to
smoothly make the dragon boat. After, the master makes the marks
of the sizes for certain parts; all the male volunteers do the
rough works. Then the master does the finish
works. The master is the only person who can get some return for
his work: a basket of rice, one red cock, one pot of wine.
When the dragon boat is finished making, the villagers will put
their money together to have a big dinner, to celebrate.
They beat the drum, dancing and singing.
|The boat body is made of
China fir. The mother boat is in the middle, two baby boats are
at the both sides. There are all consisted by three big,
complete trees, with slotting in the middle and put together
side by side. The mother boat is the widest, with 6 cabins,
length at 1.8 to 5 meters. The mother boat is 21 to 24 meters
long, .7 meters wide. The front part, which connected with the
dragon head, is .9 meters higher than the water surface. The 4
cabins in the middle are the store rooms for the storage of the
gifts, as well as the lunch for the boating men.
|The two baby boats are
about 15 meters long, .5 meters wide, the place for the boating
men. The dragon head is made of China ash, for being easy to be
carved. The material is 3 to 4 meters long, .3 meters in
diameter. The dragon head is carved with horns, ears, nose,
eyes, cheek, beard on it. The lower part of the neck must
be hollowed, and be sealed the port by a wood boat. It's said if
it's not in a hollow, the dragon boat will fight with the
dragons in the water. The back surface of the neck is carved
with dragon scales, colored by gold, red, yellow and green. Tiny
glass chips are inserted in it, to have it shinning while
boating. Besides, a pair of big cow horns will be attached at
both sides of the dragon head.
|THE CEREMONY AND THE
During the festival, every day the drummer has to cook sticky
rice, wine, meat, duck, etc. for all the persons in the dragon
boat. All the men eating in the dragon boat should use their
hands instead of chopsticks, to think of their ancestors' life.
The person in charge of cooking should be a lucky old or middle-aged man. While cooking, the rice steamer should not be covered;
the meat, chicken or duck being cooked in the pans should not be
turned over. After being cooked, the meat, chicken and duck
would be put into the rice steamer, and moved onto the dragon
boat for the boating men. The pans having been used for cooking
should not be moved until the dragon boat comes back to the
village. Women are not allowed to get onto the dragon boat. And
if a woman is going to have a baby, or is in her confinement,
all the members in her family are not allowed to touch the
|On May 18th the dragon
boat will be pulled into the water. On the 23rd, the mother boat
and the baby boats will be gotten together through a rope, and
the dragon head will be set on the mother boat.
|May 24th is the day of
the boating. At the beginning, the drummer prepares one white
cock, one pot of wine, sets up a square table, puts the dragon
god's panel onto the table. Along the table legs, he ties a robe
with the tree trunk on it. The robe must be without leaves and
barks on it. He ties one umbrella, a piece of red cloth, a chain
of white cut paper, some cotton grass on the table. This kind of
grass is shaped as a knife, means to get rid of the evils. After
praying to the god, the grass will be inserted in the small
holes on the boat tail part. When the dragon boat gets to the
competition point, the helmsman will separate them to everyone
in the boat, saying each man has a piece, then they will throw
their grass into the river at the same time. There is rice, 3
bowls of wine, a piece of meat on the table. After burning the
incense they sing the praying song, "I am holding a white
cock, a jar of wine, which is as sweet as honey candy. I am
calling to this mountain, I am calling to that mountain, hope
you dragon god, earth god, mountain god, to come down to the
mountains, together to protect the dragon boat to be safe and
lucky, to get wins all the time, to give us more grandchildren,
as many as the fishes."
|After offerings to the
gods, they kill the white cock, pour his blood onto the robe,
attach some feathers on the tree trunk. To cook the chicken,
they put in a big bowl, burn the incense and papered money,
pour the wine onto the earth, devote the cooked chicken to the
goods. They beat the drum, boat the dragon boat around the
village, then leave for the competition site. None of the
stuffs for the praying should be moved away until the dragon
boat comes back from the competition site.
|PERSONS ON THE DRAGON
They are one drummer, one gong man, one pole man, one
accountant, one helmsman. They are all standing or sitting on
the mother boat. And there are 16 boatmen standing on each of the
|The drummer, wearing a
robe, the outer garment is a red or black vest. He wears sun
glasses with a wide edge straw hat on head, holds a drum, sitting
in the front, back to the dragon head, facing to the boatmen. He
is responsible for ordering, beating hard at the drum, pushing
the boatmen to march on.
|The gong man is sitting
1.5 meters away from the drummer. The gong is about one meter in
diameter, hung on a pole; a carved dragon head is on the pole.
The string of the gong is hung on the dragon mouth. The gong man
is a ten year old boy, to be dressed in women's dress. The gong
could be beaten according to the drum's beating. He is
recommended from the drummer's family. People say the old
drummer and the young gong man stand for Bao Gong and Jiu Bao,
the father and his only son.
|The pole man, being
invited by the drummer must be strong enough and swim well.
The accountant makes the counting whenever they get the gifts,
so that the drummer will know to whom he has to send gifts back.
|There are 16 boatmen in
each baby boat, 4 persons on every cabin. They are standing.
They wear black jackets and pants, with a weaving stitched waist
belt that has silver chips on it. The pants legs are not allowed
to be rolled up. They have hats on their heads. Three phoenix-
like silver boards are along the hats' edges. The paddles are 2
meters long, 10 centimeters wide.
|The helmsman is good at
swim and bright. He has a longer paddle. While
controlling the direction, he judges the boatmen's speed. He is
the key man of the boating.
|At the end of the
competition, the dragon boat will be sailing back, with the
gifts. The people on the banks say goodbye to their relatives or
friends on the boats. The boatmen sing songs to celebrate the
||Drum Praying Festival
||This is the highest Miao
protocol--to pray to their ancestors once in 13 years, in order
to remember their ancestor's hard works during their times. They
hope their ancestors can make their power again, to give this
generation rich, happy life. They have four years of continued
activities for each festival.
This festival is
originally from their mother ancestors. Some say that Mother
butterfly is the mother ancestors. They were twins born in a
Chinese sweet gum heart. Miao people thought when a person dies,
his or her soul would be moved into someplace else. And the
Chinese sweet-gum-made wooden drum was the place their ancestors
had been moved in. To beat at the wooden drum could wake
up their ancestors' soul. So their praying to the ancestors was
by means of beating the wooden drum.
||Before the festival, they
have some related activities: to call the dragon, thank for the
earth, to elect drum owners buying the praying cow, to welcome
the grandchild drum and the waking up ancestors' drum, to cut
the drum tree, etc. Before the festival, people involved
in the same group will send their gifts to each other, every
family will be full of guests. When praying to the drum, their
family master will be invited to read the pray cow word. The
drum owners kill the cow to pray to their ancestors. After
people get together, they beat drums, blow Lu Shengs (the piped
musical instrument), being happy together with their ancestors.
Later on, they will have the activities of welcoming the bird
house, getting fire to warm the house, standing up on the
||Holding bowl is one of
the the important activities. Miao people believe that if the
bowl was round enough and without any damage, it is the symbol
of good fortune and beautiful future. They treated their
ethnic group as a bowl. At this moment, five drum owners,
together holding the bowl, let it be leveled, and don't let the
wine come out of the bowl. It means that Miao people should be
working as one, protecting their group, loving their group,
letting their later generations be rich forever. When all the
activities are over, they will send the grandmother drum back to
the mountain, to take rest. At the same time, all men and women
will blow Lu Sheng and sing and dance. At last, the praying
master will tell their ancestors to be back to the mountains,
having rest, not being worried about their generations.
That's the end of the festival.
|Miao people like cows.
They have the custom to hang the cow head, with horn, on their
village gate. This festival is very popular in Miao areas,
normally lasts 3 to 5 days. They have two kinds of cows
for the festival: one is the farm cow, the other is the
Songs and Dances
||Lu Sheng is the most
important musical instrument of Miao. In their thought, Lu Sheng
was created by their mother ancestors--that's the sound of the
mother. It is a six piped musical instrument, being divided into
big, medium, small and super small size kinds.
Miao people like Lu Sheng.
As soon as they blow it, the dance must be matched with. Lu Shen
dances vary from praying to the ancestors, celebrating,
entertainment and friendship dances.
||Miao have two kinds of
drums; one is long and narrow, say one meter long. The other is
bigger and round.
When people visit their relatives or friends, after drinking the
women will use stools to dance.
The marriage ages are from 16
till 23. Male's age is a little bit older than the
female's. Mostly, men and women are introduced
through canvassers, and will get married whenever they
both like to. The only limitations: that they should not
be the same blood relationship.
|Canvassing is not allowed everywhere; they have
a certain canvassing place. Normally there is one canvassing
place in small villages, and two or more in bigger ones. If
there are many family names in one village, one family name
should have one canvassing place. They have certain canvassing
dates, say three times a year. Young people all have been to
the canvassing activities at 16 or 17, and they are more active
during 18 to 20. The main dating way is antiphonal singings.
|In Fang Bai village, the
traditional marriage is something special. When a girl is at her
14 or 15, she will live in a separate room by her own. There is
a "cave" on the wall, which fixed for one person's
head. The cave is called girl's cave, just next to her pillows.
During night, men will come over to the cave outside. They
talk and have antiphonal singings. If the girl is satisfied with
the man, she will open her door, let him in, sitting in the bed,
having antiphonal singings for a whole night. Her family should
avoid meeting them. In some other villages, girls' doors are
half opened. The girl is inside, and the man is outside, having
antiphonal singings. In the deep night, being approved by the
girl, the man enters into the girl's room antiphonal singing or
|During their dating, men
and girls exchange their keepsakes when they decide to get
married. They will tell their decisions to their relatives, ask
them to advise their parents, to get their approvals.
|If the man and girl
couldn't find each other by themselves, who he or she would like
to marry to, the other way is by the matchmaker. Whenever the
man's family finds a girl whom they like and hope she could be
married with their son, they will send the matchmaker to
introduce the family's background and the son. The matchmaker
should be an old woman, who has parents alive, has sons and
daughters, is good at persuading, has some relationship with the
girl's family. At the beginning, the girl's parents will not easily
get agreed. They are going to discuss it with some other
relatives. At this moment, they will not receive the matchmaker,
show their higher position; otherwise, they will lose their
faces. Even if they accept in their minds, they will stall her
off, just like, "Our daughter is still young, she knows
nothing about that...we like her to be with us for more years,
and find her a man later." And the matchmaker will
repeat persuading many times, to get their final approval. After
agreement, the girl's parents start to invite the matchmaker for
dinner, and will give her a lucky ribbon. Besides, they will
prepare two ribbons, one cock, one hen for the man's parents.
That means the engagement.
|The man's family will
choose one or two men or women, together with the matchmaker, to
go to the girl's to choose the date. The procedure is like this:
the girl's family kills one cock, get it cooked, watch the
cock's eyes. This activity will be made at night. Now they set
up a long table in the dining room, and put the cooked cock onto
the table. If the two eyes are same opened or closed, it means
the good fortune. The two young persons could get married. If
the left eye is closed, the right eye is opened, it means the
man would be restrained by the girl. If the right eye is
closed, the left eye is opened, it means the girl would be
restrained by the man. They all mean bad fortune. If the
families don't care about it, they will not change their minds.
If they do, the man's should turn back the ribbons to the
girl's. After watching the cock's eyes, they will find out a
lucky date for the wedding, and then they will get ready, like
feeding pigs, making wine, preparing the bride's wedding dress.
|In some places the
wedding ceremony is held in daytime, in some places at night.
One day before the wedding, even numbers (normally 10) of men,
sent from the bride groom, are going to the bride's family, to
pick up the bride. Two men are the most important among them,
one is going to preside over the wedding ceremony, the other is
the chief witness at the wedding ceremony. The gift is a male
duck, tied on the end of the umbrella, being held by a young
man. Rich families' gifts includes one alive cock, one killed
pig without hair on, a big striped ball tied on the head, one or
two big baskets of sticky rice, red eggs on the top of the rice,
two white colored porcelain bowls, two new chopsticks, one jar
of wine with red paper sealed the port.
|That day, the bride
family sends many middle aged women and old men, standing in a
line, from their home till the entrance of the village, holding
wine pots, bowls, wine cups, to pour wine to the men sent from
the bridegroom. In the dining room there is one or two
long tables. Next to the ancestral tablets' side, they put one
cooked cock (cut into pieces, but the legs and feet cannot be
cut off), pork head, pork liver, pork kidney, pork heart, pork
lungs, pork feet. They are all put into one big basin, one basin
of sticky rice, three bowls of wine. The other surface part of
the table is full of wine and meat. The bride's parents are
sitting in the middle. The men from the bridegroom are sitting
in the right hand side, and the persons from the bride's are
sitting in the left hand side. The guests are surround sitting
|Now the praying. It
is made by the master who is invited by the bride family. After
the praying, the master will give wine and the chicken legs to
the presiding person from the bride's and the bridegroom's. The
first wine has to be offered to the ancestors. The other wine
will be changed drank by the two and so the chicken legs. After
that, the master will give wine and chicken wings to the chief
witness from the both families, and they will have them changed
drank. Later, a lucky woman, being invited by the bride's
family, who has parents alive, has son and daughter, has food
and dresses, she will tie two ribbons to every man sent by the
bridegroom. They are called the master ribbons. Then the
relatives from the bride family tie their ribbons to them, each
ribbon should be connected with the master ribbon. Later on, the
relatives send gifts to the bride's family. The gifts are money
or clothes. At last, everyone drink, sing, for a while
|The next day, in early
morning, the men sent by the bridegroom hurry up the bride on
the way to the bridegroom. Before leaving, the persons from the
bride's side ask shoes money from the bridegroom's men. At
beginning, those men will pretend to have no more money, and
saying if they knew, they should have taken shoes for them. The
persons from the bride's side will take off those men's jackets,
searching for the money. They play and laugh for a while. At the
end, they give the money to them, get ready to leave. The bride
will say good bye to her parents, to her brothers, to her
relatives, all the time with tears. And the mother will give her
an umbrella. She will hold this umbrella, use her right
foot to go out of this door. She will be accompanied by
her sisters till their village gate. The gifts from the
bride are the same as those from the bridegroom.
|The bridegroom will send
a lucky middle-aged woman, who uses a new towel, got some water
on it, and clean the dust out from the bride's shoes. And the
bride gives her umbrella to the bridegroom's sister. Then uses
her left foot to enter the door. Other guests follow her into
the door. Entering to the dinning room, two of the
bridegroom sisters accompany with the bride to sit there. Each
of them has a towel putting on their legs, in order to get
gifts. An old person will do the praying, the same as in the
bride's family. After that, he/she will give three pieces of the
sticky rice and fishes to the bride and the sisters. Then the
relatives send their gifts to the bride. After that, the
sisters will take the bride to carry happy water, and she
will clean the floor also. After, the sisters send the
bride to the room, to take rest. Then, all the guests start to
have the dinner. During all the activities, the bridegroom
will not attend. He wears a normal dress, doing the farm
works, sounds nothing happened!
|After 13 days, the bride
will go back to her mother's once. During these 13 days, the
bride and the bridegroom are not allowed to live together.
Normally, the bride lives with her sister-in-law or
mother-in-law. After the wedding, the bride goes back to
her mother's very often. By chance of festivals, her
mother-in-law or sister-in-law, has to pick her up. Being
repeated many times, the bridegroom and the bride finally live
MARRIAGE" - ELOPEMENT
The date for this marriage is made by the man and the girl. At
that night, the bridegroom sends some even numbers of friends,
to send signals to the girl at the meeting point, like a
whistle, sing songs, etc, not beating up her parents. Before the
night, in the evening, the girl will be back home, while the
parents are sleeping soundly, she steals the shirts, dresses,
ornaments and an umbrella, which she has prepared ahead of time.
She sends them to her girl friend, to take them out of the door
firstly, and transfer them to the men sent by the
bridegroom. Then the girl goes out for dating, as normal,
following the man to his home. And her best girl friends from
her village will accompany her, till the middle way, and say
good bye with tears. And the bridegroom has to give them
some money on the way back. Near to the man's village,
somebody will inform his parents, they come out to welcome the
bride. The bride hands her umbrella by her left hand, to one of
the bridegroom's sisters, using her left foot to enter the
room. She will be sent by the sister into the bridal
chamber to have a rest. The bridegroom will sleep in one of his
relative's home in the village, to respect the
|In the next morning, the
bridegroom's parents will kill a cock, to pray to the ancestors.
Then, they invite all the villagers for dinner, meaning their
son has got married. In the same day, the bridegroom's parents
have to send one or two men who are good at persuading, taking
one alive duck, being tied on the umbrella end, one pot of wine,
to go to the bride's family, to tell her parents the message,
and ask them to accept it. On behalf of the bridegroom,
acknowledge the mistake. If her parents agree with the marriage,
they will accept the gifts, cook the duck, invite the men, as
well as their villagers, for dinner. Then with the men, they
will make out the returning date of the bride, and the gift
details. If the men get refused by the parents, the duck
sent by them will be thrown away out of the room. Even
though the men cannot go back, they have to do all their best to
repeat doing the persuading. If they fail, they will go
back to the bridegroom, tell the truth. They will find
some other old persons who are the relatives to the bride's
family to persuade, till the parents accept it. Once
everything is accepted by the bride's parents, the bridegroom's
family will prepare the gifts, sending them together with the
bride back to her family, on the returning date.
Included on this page are photos from
Yang Yuan, Chinese National Costume Culture, 1999, Beijing; The
Cultural Palace of Nationalities, ed., Clothings and Ornaments of China's Miao People, Beijing, 1985,
and Huang Shoubao, Ethnic Costume from Guizhou, Beijing,