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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

A wedding ceremony of the Miao ethnic minority

By Weiwei Guan

July 7

It’s not a luxurious wedding, but one featuring many blessings, warmth and a human touch.

It’s not a luxurious wedding, but one featuring many blessings, warmth and a human touch.

As one of the largest ethnic minorities in southwest China, the Miao people are mainly distributed across Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Hainan provinces as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The Miao have a diversified culture developed over thousands of years. They are fond of singing and dancing, especially during celebrations and festivals. Miao girls like to wear silver ornaments, and regard big and heavy ones as beautiful. They have distinctive customs that vary from place to place. Wedding ceremonies in Huishui County (惠水县), Guizhou Province is a typical case and usually occur on the eve of Chinese New Year.

On this day, the bride is adorned by her senior family members with about twenty items, including clothes embedded with the seal of the first Zhou Dynasty emperor, silver jewellery, and more than seven pleated skirts (the number should be singular).

[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
The bride’s family prepares a feast of local foods on a long table to serve guests and musicians from the groom’s family and celebrate the new couple.

[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
Musicians play their trombones while on their way to the groom’s house.

[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
The bride, with two bridesmaids, each carries a new umbrella while heading to the groom’s house. There are around one hundred people in the ranks, including 12 playing trombones; six playing suona (a Chinese woodwind instrument) and drums.

[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
[Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Hui]
It’s not a luxurious wedding, but one featuring many blessings, warmth and a human touch.  Wedding customs in this region are little known as people are usually too focused on preparations for national New Year celebrations.

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