Langde Miao the welcome ceremony

Before heading to Yunnan, we went to Landge Miao, a traditional Miao village about 30 kilometers north of Kaili, Guizhou. We stopped there for a “welcome ceremony.”

Travelers to Langde Miao Village are welcomed by the 12 courses of “block-way” rice wine set from the foot of the village to the entrance gate. In every block-way, the local Miao people in traditional Miao costumes will toast you with two bowls of rice wine which means enjoy both happiness and longevity. In the last block-way at the entrance gate, the bowl is changed into a big horn.

As Langdeshang is located at the foot of a mountain, the village is made up of Diaojiaolou, which are typical Miao buildings that are held up by wooden stilts and are between two to three storeys high. The front of the building is supported by pillars whilst the rear of the building is suspended on stilts that keep it level with the mountainside. These buildings are an architectural wonder, as oftentimes they have been built without the use of any nails or rivets. They are held together by means of a system of wooden joints, which lock together perfectly and give the structure stability. All of these Diaojiaolou will have been built by local carpenters and made from wood cut from the surrounding fir trees. The women in Langdeshang wear long skirts and so are often referred to as “long skirt Miao”.

Miao is the official Chinese term for four distinct groups of people who are only distantly related through language or culture: the Hmu people of southeast Guizhou, the Qo Xiong people of west Hunan, the A-Hmao people of Yunnan, and the Hmong people of Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Yunnan (see China: People).

Most Miao currently live in China. Miao population growth in China:

1953: 2,510,000

1964: 2,780,000

1982: 5,030,000

1990: 7,390,000

3,600,000 Miao, about half of the entire Chinese Miao population, were in Guizhou in 1990.

Once the toasts are complete, the villagers will set off firecrackers, play the mangtong, and sing the song called “Toasting the Guests”. The guests are then led to the lusheng ground, where the men will play the lusheng and the young villagers will perform traditional dances.

If you’re curious about the dance, here’s a short video:

So what’s the catch? Well it’s China so this ceremony happens for a reason — the people of Langde actually get paid every time they perform. After each ceremony, they receive a token that they can redeem at the end of the month in exchange for a salary. One can see this as one way of preserving traditions or just a another way for the Chinese government to attract more tourists… And in Langde you will find a lot of tourists, including those annoying ones flying their drones over the city and ruining the experience.

So should you go to Langde? I’d still say “yes” — the costumes, dancing and songs are beautiful and it’s another opportunity to learn about the Miao people.

That’s it! If you missed my post about Guizhou and Guangxi, head over here. Otherwise, next stop for us was Yunnan, another region known for its large number of ethnic minorities (post coming up soon!)


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