Traditional Miao minority embroidery, costumes and villages

A question I have been asked quite a few times by visitors is “where can I see the Miao Minority”? To which I usually answer, “Everywhere, Haikou, Sanya, Qionghai etc… they’re all around you going about their daily business”.

The question visitors really want to ask of course is, where can they see Miao people in their traditional clothing and villages.

Recently on our Round Hainan Road Trip both Jake Canning and I visited Ma ling Pai Village, Nanfeng town in DanZhou and met with some of the Miao Minority village leaders and elders.

Jake-with-Miao-village-elders

The main source of income in the village comes from rubber trees. Each family in the village usually has about 300 trees which must be allowed to mature for about 6 years after planting before they can be tapped for the sap.

Miao village-leader-with-rubber-tree

It’s tough work, the morning begins at 5 am when villagers go out into the plantation and collect the sap from the trees. At about 7 or 8 am the sap is collected together in one location and made ready to be brought to the market for sale, usually to local small private companies.

At the time of writing the sap from the rubber tree fetches around RMB12 to 13 per kg. Villagers can sell the sap directly to the buyers or they can dry it out themselves and sell solid rubber strips.

Miao-Minoriry-Old-Lady

Miao-People-Clothing

In Ma ling Pai Village the Miao people still wear their traditional clothing which is famous for its exquisite embroidery and bold colours.

Miao-People-headdress

Miao-People-Clothing-headdress

Their headdress is particularly striking with fine detailed work. It can take a person up to one month to complete from start to finish. Designs have changed somewhat over the years, they are no longer exactly the same as they were hundreds of years ago but they are still quite close and more modern embroidery techniques are now being used. Nowadays, the headdress is usually only worn by women over the age of 50, the younger generation don’t tend to wear them so much anymore.

Miao-People-Clothing-wedding-sash

Two white sashes (one for left and one for right) which sits across the shoulders draped down the front and back and a colourful waist band are worn by young women on their wedding day. The shoulder sash is embroidered with butterflies, the symbol for marriage and the traditional symbol for the Miao minority. The sashes and waist band are only worn on the wedding day and occasionally thereafter on important festivals. On a typical day, the older women would only wear dark trousers a black top, (which is embroidered on the cuffs) and the headdress.

Miao-People-Clothing-dyeing

Bees wax, herbs and a type of grass are used to create the design on the skirts. The wax is etched onto the material which is then dyed with the local herbs and grass, the wax prevents the material from picking up the colour producing the familiar Miao Minority design.

Miao minority exhibition-centre

Miao minority Nanfeng-Village

A Miao minority exhibition centre is currently being built in Nanfeng town in DanZhou (and other minority villages) in an effort to promote tourism to these areas, so if you’re in Hainan and looking to immerse yourself in local traditional culture, they’re definitely worth a visit.

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