Gaopo Style Miao
While driving southward from Guiyang, 48km later , we will get to
the township of Gaopo Miao.
In the region of Gaopo, there lives a mysterious brach of the Miao,
some people call them " Mountainous Miao", some called "
Yinpan Miao", but I prefer to call them " Gaopo style Miao"
according to the location where they live.
The elevation of the Gaopo style Miao make a living is from 1150-1700
meters above sea level. The region constitutes limestone formtions, canyon
scenery and plateau grassland scenery. Their costume is fabulous and meaningful,
and there are lots of legends can tell from for the meaning of the patterns.
The legend of shooting Yinpai( Seal on women's jacket back )
It is said that the Miao living in Gaopo is a branch of the Miao also
called " Yinpai Miao" who had lived in this region thousands
of years ago. According the legend, one of their ancestors was an offical
in the Chu kingdom during the waring state period whose job is taking
care of the seal for the king of the Chu kingdom. There was a war between
the Qing kingdom and the Chu kingdom, together the king of the Chu kingdom,
their ancestors fighted against the Qing kingdom. It showed that the Chu
kingdom would be defeated, their ancestors orders women and children to
leave the land so as to save their decendents. women embroidered the patter
of seal on each's jacket back when saying good to their heroes, and women
were not willing to leave the homeland. Then the male heroes order the
soldiers to take out the arrow head and tried to shoot their families-women
and children, the purpose was to force them leave the land in order to
survive and pass down the generations, women and children had to leave
their homeland, finally got to Gaopo and decided to live in this region,
hence " Yinpai Miao" due to the decration on women's jacket
Another story goes, during the three kingdoms period, the ancetor of
this sub-group Miao once persuade Menghuo to give in Zhu Geliang. Zhu
Geliang was a famous general of the Shu kindom who was very smart, so
once captured Menghuo 7 times. Menghuo was a noted tribal lead in the
Southwest China at that time. The Miao's ancestors were given a big seal
so as to encourage and praise for them. Then the Miao women embroidered
the seal patter on their jacket back.
There are many lengends about the seal patter, and the stories are
various. Anyway nowadays the Gao po style Miao still wear colorful dress
with a piece of fine embroidered patter of seal on their jacket back for
decration. The Gao po style Miao spend a few festivals annually, namely
the Cave dancing festival in the first lunar month, the " Si Yue
Ba" on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month and the New rice
eating festival. There will a lot of ceremonious activities such as bull
fighting, hore race, antiphonal singing and Lusheng playing. The "
Si Yue Ba" is especially the most grand ones among them, during the
festival, one of the activities is shooting Beipai, the girl puts her
exquisite embroidered Baipai on the wall or on the ground to let her favorite
boy shoot on it, if ones shoots the Beipai, he will becomes her marriage
The Gao po style Miao in the boundery between Jiading, Dahong and Shuitang
still practise the ceremony of keeping the dead with the wooden coffin
in the limestone cave, some big caves can hold more 100 coffins. Once
I made a hiking tour in Gaopo region, I talked to local guide-Lao Luo,
he says only one who is over 6o years and has contributed a lot the village
when he dies can have the cave funaral ceremony.
During the first lunar month, the Gaopo style Miao spend the "Tiaodong"
festival, men play Lusheng, and women follow the steps, the activity is
arrnaged in the cave. The festival is from one village to the other village
on different day.
The Gaopo style Miao live not too far away from the downtown of Guiyang
city, however, they seems still too poor. They also grow rice, corn in
the region, but the soil is too barren due to limestone territory, so
the harvest of argriculture is too bad. The region seems also too cold
and high for rice growing. Fortunately their still keep their trational
costume and unique lifestyle well, I hope their living is becoming much
better while they are preseving their cultures and contiueing their traditions.