Guizhou  –  An Wallless Ethnic Museum


Rich in ethnic traditions and cultures, Guizhou is worthy of its fame as a rare ethnic museum.

An inland province in southwest China, Guizhou is in a region of world-renowned mountainous karst landscape. With more hills than flatlands, local farmers till their limited farmland as carefully as embroidering. They cultivate all tillable slopes from the feet of the hills to the top, leaving hills in cone-shaped terraces.

The small hills of Guizhou with their natural flower gardens have a strong influence on the local Miao (Hmong) ethnic people. Their festivals are related to flowers, such as "Stepping on the Flower Hill" and "Dancing on the Flower Slope". The ancestors of the Miao used to live in the Yellow River valley when the "well field system" was in practice throughout the Central China.

Some 4,000 years ago, wars forced the Miao people to migrate southward, eventually they reached Guizhou. With no written characters, the Miao language is passed down verbally. They portray their homeland and history on their costumes and adornments by way of embroidery and wax-dyeing.

The liveliest festivals of the Miao are the courtship ones such as "Dancing on the Flower Hill", "Sisters' Rice Festival" and "Lusheng Festival". At these festivals, Miao girls are all dressed up in their finest, making themselves as charming as possible to their suitors. At the same time, the Miao boys, with their ethnic hats symbolizing manhood, throng to the flower-strewn ground, each playing their bamboo Lusheng instrument. In this way, Miao courtship and marriage is carried out through songs and dances.

Guizhou is also inhabited by the Shui, Bouyi, Yao, Yi, Dong and other ethnic groups. Like the Miao, these peoples are all migrants. In order to retain their own ethnic cohesion and identification, they have passed on their unique ethnic cultures and age-old customs till today. Thus, the Drum-tower Building and Rain-and-Wind Bridge of the Dong, the Bronze Drum of the Shui, the Stone Village and Ground Opera of the Bouyi, the unique marriage and cave burial customs of the Yao, and the colorful costumes and adornments of the Yi, each with its own distinctive attraction and profound cultural connotation, all enrich the charm of Guizhou - the wallless ethnic museum.