Posted by: apal1528 | 02/26/2010

Miao Matrimony

Wow, what a week.

I just got back from Guizhou… I spent the week with some friends in a small town called Taijiang. We went to see the wedding of our dear Australian friend, Tam. She found a strapping young Miao guy to tie the knot with. It was indeed a once in a lifetime event.

We took an overnight train down to Guizhou’s capitol city, Guiyang. From there we met up with friends who had flown down the night before and took a bus to a smaller city named Kaili. From there we took yet another bus to Taijiang. It was about a 5 hour journey. We later learned that Taijiang is actually the center of the once very powerful Miao ethnic group. Now, though still rather large, they are merely another one of China’s minority ethnic groups struggling to maintain grasp of the vibrant Culture that makes them unique.

This is Taijiang.

For the few days before the wedding, we did a lot of hiking in the hills around the city. Since the main source of revenue for the people living in Southern Guizhou is farming, the hills are covered in terraced farms. It was boggling to think of the amount of work that was put into creating farms that literally climb up the mountains. Because of the hilliness in Taijiang the Miao culture was, according to a villager, one of the last minority groups in China to be conquered by the PRC. We actually climbed to a hill where the remnants of a wall surrounding the city could still be seen.

The family of Helei, Tam’s husband, began arriving the same time we did and while we were in a hotel, they all were stuffed into his parents’ home. For days before there was enough drinking and gambling and firecracker-setting to last for the entire year, but the wedding itself was truly a spectacular event.

We brought Helei’s parents a chicken as a present.

Tam was all dressed up in the traditional Miao outfit, with a large headdress and bulky necklaces. They paraded her around the city streets and gathered a large following as we arrived at the restaurant where they recited their vows. We mostly attributed the large crowd (of course stuffed into an undersized restaurant) to the free food that followed the ceremony, which thankfully only lasted for a good 20 minutes.

A village we went up to on the last day.

The highlight of the week was indeed the wedding, but seeing the culture of the Miao minority was very fascinating.

Chrystal took these pictures…

A woman returning from her fields.

We went up to the grasslands.

Firecrackers before the wedding.

I’d recommend anyone go to Guizhou to see the old minority villages and to experience the true China.

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