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Guizhou Tiaoyue Festival
   There are lots of interesting annual festivals in Guizhou, among them, Tiaoyue festival of the Miao is one of the nice festivals in the province.
   Tiaoyue is a traditional festival with ceremonious activities. The Miao from Guizhou in southwest China get together on a selected slope or rice field to hold Tiaoyue festival.
   We can find some information of this festival from the documents from early Qing dynasty, during spring, young girls and young boys from nearby villages get together on mountain slopes, unmarried women and men wear exquisite festival dress, men play the Lusheng, girls follow the dancing group making a circle, thus called ^ Tiaoyue ̄. If fact, this tradition comes from the middle Ming dynasty. However, it was not becoming a regular festival with uncertain date. Since the early Qing dynasty, this tradition became formal festival with fare and ceremonious activities such as playing the Lusheng, dancing Lusheng, dating, ect.
   Nowadays, on every festival, more than a thousand people come to join the festival, and usually the festival lasts for a few days.
   There are no fixed process for Tiaoyue festival, young men and women, middle age women or little girls, little boys can participate the festival, they can also quit from the dancing group while dancing. When dancing, every circle is led by two or a few boys holding Lusheng on their hands, the boys dance in the front leading the dancing circle, then the girls follow the steps with gorgeous festival dress going forward sluggishly.
   A village called ^Wangba ̄ has a nice Tiaoyue festival. On the first day, every family prepare sufficient sticky rice wine, glutinous rice cakes, smoked porked, sausage and smoke doufu with pig blood so as to entertain relatives who come to join the festival. The Miao are very friendly and hospitable to offer you a cup of rice wine or a bowl of rice wine. They would like to sing a song for you too. It was told by the local old, long time ago, when opening a new Tiaoyue ground, the rice family must kill a or several fat and big pigs for the festival to supply meats for guests, the families with regular income will cook and offer some stick rice wine to the guests or relatives.
   The Tiaoyue dance is held on the second day of the festival. On that day, after the early breakfast, Miao people walk to the festival ground from all the different directions, while the Lusheng music is resounding in the sky, the festival starts. Wherever the front or the back of the vllage or festival ground, ever corner is full of pretty girls and handsome boys newly dressed, they are entering to the ground center happily and smiling to look for their favourite love partners. Once a girls is fond of a boy, she will follow behind him and dance with the circle, and she will take out her hand woven gift to wrap on the boy¨s Lusheng. Mothers stay beside the circle, they stare at the boys and girls and talk to each other secretly and quietly, they often say who who is more pretty, or who is more handsome. The more handsome boys will be followed by more girls, so they will be admired by people, the boys who have more followers, they will be the most happy ones, on the contrary, the one with less girls or no girls will be very sad and disappointed. The dance continues till sunset, after that people go to stay overnight at the host village, the family has more guests will be more noble and proud, the ones with less guests will be looked down upon by people.? During the dinner, relatives, friend, the owners have delicious meals such as smoked pork, sausage and rice wine. After the meal, young people go out the field , slope, bamboo groves or village edge to fall in love secretly. The old sit near the firery pit with heat and talk about happiness of the festival, exchange ideas and knowledge of doing agricultural plan for the coming new year.
   Recently, more activities such as playing basket, song competition, buffalo fight, selling goods are added to the festival content, thus attracts more and more people from near or afar, Tiaoyue festival not only improve local people¨s spiritual life, let culture go down to the further generation, but also promote the rural economy.

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All texts and image by Chen Hualong Email: tony6868@163.com alongdiscovery@hotmail.com
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