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Friday, September 26, 2014

Miao Culture, Guilin, China

The Miao people are one of 55 ethnic minorities that are recognized by the Chinese government, but in reality they have been grouped together with a range of different cultures that share some common cultural practices and similar languages.  The Hmong of SE Asia are amongst the sub-cultures of Miao.

We saw Miao people in Guilin, and there are several places where tourists can step into the clothing and jewelry of the Miao and have their pictures taken. 

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 20 pounds. 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 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.

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