Girls sport their ancestors' hair for Lunar New year in China

17 February 2019 - 17:05 By afp
A young woman from the Long Horn Miao, a branch of the Miao ethnic minority group is getting her wig set prior to the annual flower festival or 'Tiaohuajie' in the village of Longjia in China's Guizhou province on February 14 2019.
A young woman from the Long Horn Miao, a branch of the Miao ethnic minority group is getting her wig set prior to the annual flower festival or 'Tiaohuajie' in the village of Longjia in China's Guizhou province on February 14 2019.
Image: FRED DUFOUR / AFP

Girls with large headpieces made from the hair of their ancestors and wearing intricately patterned dresses danced in isolated villages in southwest China to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Against a stunning mountain backdrop, dozens of girls and women of the Long Horn Miao ethnicity performed for the annual flower festival or 'Tiaohuajie', held in Guizhou province on Thursday.

Onlookers watched -- smartphones in hand -- as the women swirled across a meadow, wearing dresses and jackets embroidered with pink roses and geometric patterns.

But it was the towering black headdresses of the dancers that really stood out -- made from wool, string and the hair of their ancestors, and wrapped around animal horns with white fabric.

"It's really special to be at the centre of attention like this. I feel quite proud," said Yang Yunzheng, 16.

"We organise this festival once a year when we wear these headpieces. That doesn't change with modernisation".

The Miao ethnic minority is made up of some nine million people, mostly found in China's southwest. Of those, around 5,000 "Long Horn Miao" live in just a dozen isolated villages in Guizhou.

Their headpieces are passed down through generations and worn on a number of occasions to honour their ancestors and preserve their traditions.

The festival is held on the 10th day of the Lunar New Year.


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