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Gaopo Style Miao

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          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 back.

  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 partner.

  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.

  To make the tour, contact Along
All texts and image by Chen Hualong Email:
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