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17/03/2014

Get to know China's minority groups

The best place to experience China’s fascinating ethnic minority culture is the remote southwestern province of Guizhou China vacation deals. Cut off from the rest of the country by high mountain ranges, it has always been isolated from the influence of Beijing, and today minority people account for more than one in three inhabitants.

One of China’s poorest provinces, Guizhou is a little-known backwater that rewards exploration. Its hilly landscape is both tricky to cultivate and soaked with persistent rain, but this authentic slice of the Chinese countryside is populated by an intriguing ethnic patchwork of minorities including Dong, Miao, Bouyei, Sui, Hui and Zhuang, plus picturesquely named sub-groups such as the Small Flowery Miao and the Long-Horned Miao.
Festivals and costume in Guizhou

In Guizhou practically every Miao and Dong minority village celebrates a lusheng festival at some point between late October and April. Traditionally a courtship ritual, young girls don the spectacular Miao costume and dance to the lusheng pipes. Bullfights also feature.

During these spirited festivities, the people (mainly the women) are resplendent in traditional costume. Most striking of all are the remarkable silver headdresses worn by Miao girls at the lusheng festivals. There are several Miao subgroups, each of which has its own distinctive costume. The Small Flowery Miao specialise in extravagant bouffant hairdos, while the Long-Horned Miao tie their hair around wooden horns projecting from the sides of the head. The Dong wear splendid indigo-dyed garments. These forms of dress are not merely ornamental; they are an assertion of a cultural identity distinct from mainstream China best tours of China and the relentless consumerism that continually erodes the minorities’ way of life.

Miao and Dong New Year festivals take place after the autumn harvest, around the 10th lunar month (late Nov/early Dec). The Miao Sister’s Meal Festival, in villages northeast of Kaili, takes place in the middle of the 3rd lunar month and features the symbolic exchange of gifts between prospective partners. In Yunnan the Dai Water Festival (Buddhist New Year/Songkran) in mid-April, the Naxi Torch Festival in early July (Lijiang) and the Bai March Fair (Dali) are all worth seeking out.
Rural tranquility

The extraordinary architecture of the Dong is another highlight: their tranquil villages popular China tours, hidden away in a landscape of picturesque hills with rice terraces, are marked by striking wooden towers and and covered wooden bridges, know as wind-and-rain bridges.

All China’s minority populations are now guaranteed freedom to retain their language and customs by the Chinese constitution. That isn’t to say that they are on an equal footing with the Han, although this is perhaps less to do with discrimination than the fact that it is difficult for these tradition-bound communities to break the cycle of rural poverty.

China’s Han nationality constitutes around 92 percent of the population and dominates the heartland of the country. Yet, primarily in the west and southwest, there are no fewer than 55 separate ethnic minority groups with their own languages, cultures and costume.

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