Thursday, January 27, 2011

China Diary Day 18 Longsheng Yao Ethnic Minority Part 1

Hello! I am so excited to share this part of our China trip today! We got up bright and early to join a local tour and headed into Longsheng. Along the way our guide Linda gave us an introduction to the day's highlights. Even though we paid extra to be part of an English speaking tour, it was mostly in Mandarin. She spoke so fast I could barely catch up with the vast amount of info, after a while I gave up translating for David. Our destination was more than an hour's drive from Guilin, so Linda instructed all passengers to nap.

We woke up as the bus began to climb its way up the mountains, the view of rice terraces out the window. The fields appeared to be harvested and on the dry side.
Further down, a pathway from the main road led to some buildings that looked like residential dwellings.
On the edge of the town by the side of the highway, a tobacco and liquor store with no customers, I wondered who buys the goods.
We ventured into areas with bigger buildings, there were lots of bamboo on the ground, to be used for scaffolding perhaps?
It must be very noisy outside because we could hear the machinery inside the bus. Workers were feeding lumber into a device that split them into planks.
On the side of the road, processed wood in various stages, timber without bark and more planks.
Past the woodworking area a row of boxes, its handles strung together with a common rope. On top sat a fishing net, now I'm really curious, what are in those boxes?
We came to the first attraction of the tour, pictured below the wooden building where visitors could enjoy a show by the ladies of Yao Ethnic Minority. This was an additional 50 RMB per person (about $7 Canadian), everyone was expecting this but we were quite surprised and felt it should be part of the tour. Linda guided everybody towards the entrance on the left corner, under the hanging bunches of dried corn.
Up the flight of wooden stairs we went into a small hall that was decorated with more hanging bunches of corn. There was not enough wooden benches to seat us all so some sat down on the floor near the front. I joined them and squatted in the corner to get a better view.

At the front, ten very pretty Yao girls stood, dressed in their traditional costumes. The one on the right with the microphone greeted the audience and explained they would be performing some songs and dance to welcome us.
Hands held together, they began to sing in the sweetest voice. Captured below a close up of the lovely singers, hair wrapped in black fabric, facial complexion young and fair. They wore bright silver jewelry, bangle earrings and bracelets with bells. I admired the embroidered detail on their skirts.
After the first song they went backstage to grab musical instruments and returned with a dance.
Two different types of percussion were used, you can see them on the 2 girls that were face to face. They were accompanied by a band that was playing loudly and joyously in the left corner, I could see a man playing the trumpet.
The dancers formed a circle and moved lively, the band that was all male continued performing. I caught sight of a different man playing yet another trumpet, there were drums too.
Moving onto a different song, the tune was sweeter, the dance movements became graceful. In 2 rows swaying side to side, the girls' expressions grew gentle, especially the second one from the left.
I was thankful for the angle shown below, the camera caught sight of the back part of their intricate costumes. We were told the blouses were handwoven, full of graphic detail it paired beautifully with the colorful skirts.
At the end of the song, they put their instruments away and formed a line, the band continued to play enthusiastically.
Remember the silver bracelets with bells? It came to good use for this merry tune, jingling loudly the atmosphere felt very festive.
Arms to the side waving vigorously, their actions faster as the music grew louder. The ladies were smiling broadly, the show was truly welcoming, everyone was having a good time. Stay tuned next week as we continue with the performance by the talented Yao girls!


  1. Hi Novi: Do you know what the corns symbolizes? Ben

  2. Hi Ben and Suanne: I don't know the symbolic meaning of the corn, I can't remember if our guide Linda mentioned anything about this, her Mandarin is too fast for me. I do know it's one of the Yao's staple diet.

  3. Hi Novi: If you think about it, Corns are not native to China. It came from South America and it is the Spaniards who first brought it out of the New World just a few hundred of years ago. Yet today, China is the 2nd largest producer of maize (after US) in the world. Interesting, huh? Ben

  4. Hi Ben and Suanne: That's true and also interesting. Europeans came to China and brought different items, one of them being the tomato. In China the tomato is called the red thing from the West, which I learned from a Chinese immigrant a few years ago.

  5. Hi Novi: Quite a number of people were asking about the prices of the dishes in Bing Sheng. See this post: Do you or David by any chance still know? Ben

  6. wow....your photos are gorgeous. We were in China in the late fall. Seeing your photos has brought back all the wonderful memories again. I think we will have to drag out our photos to keep the memories alive!

    Thanks for sharing!
    BTW, which camera do you use?

  7. Hi A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen: Thank you for your lovely comment! Sharing our photos this way allows us to relive the China trip once again, we're happy to share.

    We've been using Nikon D70 since 2004, the 2 lenses used are: wide angle 18-70 and zoom lens 70-300. The zoom lens came into good use for the Terracotta Army in Xian.

  8. A very interesting post. The Yao dance troupe look striking in the vibrant colours of their outfits. This has made me curious about the different cultural groups that live within China's borders.