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A visit to 'World's First Long-hair Village'

(People's Daily Online)

15:23, July 17, 2012


Yao ethnic women keep long hair tradition alive

I was fortunate to visit Huangluo Yao Village, known as the "World's First Long-hair Village," in the mountainous areas of Longsheng county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Guided by Zhou Enping, head of the county's publicity department, I walked across an iron chain suspension bridge, the only access to the Yao village. The clean water under the bridge forms a fine contrast to the beautiful yellow houses with a black roof in the village.

Huangluo Yao Village is inhabited completely by Red Yao, a branch of the Yao ethnic group. The branch has been thus named because they admire the red color and love red clothing. All residents of the village are surnamed Pan. Of more than 120 women in the village, more than 80 have hair longer than 1.4 meters, and the longest is 1.8 meters long. The village became well-known after the Shanghai Great World Guinness Head Office granted the women there a certificate of "World's Longest-haired Women."

The flowing hair is a superb work of art, a beautiful prose, and an epic for the Red Yao people. If one understands the long hair, he or she will understand the long-established splendid culture of the Red Yao people.

Red Yao women attach great importance to long hair, which symbolizes lasting prosperity, longevity, wealth, and auspiciousness. The women value their hair greatly, and use traditional techniques to grow, comb, and protect their hair. They start growing hair at the age of 12 or 13, and then cut and collect their long hair when it reaches a certain length. The hair of Red Yao women is long and jet black, and they hardly have any grey hair. It turns out that they only use wooden combs and wash hair with rice-washing water containing herbs.

Red Yao women wear different hairstyles with different meanings. Girls who are old enough to get married carefully wrap their hair in an embroidered black scarf, but leave a lock of hair out to show that they are still unmarried. They can stop covering their hair with the scarf after getting married. Newly married Red Yao women and those who have one child wrap up their hair and wear the “luosi” hairstyle. Red Yao women who have two children wear the supreme “Wulongpanfa” hairstyle with an embroidered black scarf. Any Red Yao woman would be proud to wear the "Wulongpanfa" hairstyle as it symbolizes a growing family.

Red Yao women normally spend three years adding hand embroideries to their already beautiful clothing by stitching various patterns and designs such as colorful flowers and trees as well as lifelike birds and beasts. They usually stitch a pair of red tiger paws onto the back-waist part of their clothing.

Zhou said that in recent years, Huangluo Yao Village has received nearly 300,000 visitors from home and abroad who are interested in the Red Yao culture represented by long hair. Red Yao girls wearing folk costume welcome visitors with authentic folk songs and dances, and show their technique of coming long hair. Long, flowing hair makes the dancing girls look even more graceful.

Source: People's Daily Overseas Edition; Author: Zhao Shan
Read the Chinese version: 天下长发第一村

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