In the deep south of China, about 700 km northwest of Hong Kong, lie the famous rice terraces, the so-called “dragon ridges”. These unique landscapes were created by the minorities living in the provinces. Indigenous peoples such as the Yao, Miao or Dong still try to live in harmony with nature and to save their old customs and traditions for the 21st century.
In Huangluo, the “village of the longhaired women”, it is the Yao women who have succeeded in getting an entry in the Guinness Book of Records with spectacular hair lengths of up to 88 feet and 7 inches. With an idiosyncratic hair combing show, they succeed in inspiring tourists for their simple village life.
The “last gunmen” have also preserved their hair ritual. The men of the Miao people are the only ones in all of China who are still allowed to carry weapons. They shave their heads with a sickle, leaving only a tuft of hair. Today, this is still a symbol of this tribe’s closeness to nature, which believes in the sacred power of trees.
With the help of a government tourism promotion programme, a huge leap in development is now to take place. A close-meshed motorway network connects the region with the high-tech rest of China. The centuries-old customs are being prepared for tourist flows and should catapult the region forward economically. Folklore as capital – curse or blessing for the Chinese minorities?