After being postponed on several occasions due to the pandemic, we’re extremely excited to say that the world-famous Long Hair Festival is coming back this year and the Yao Secret Team will be there giving you the inside scoop!
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the event, The Long Hair Festival is a traditional festival in Longji that usually takes place during the springtime.
At this time you can witness some breath-taking natural scenery such as peach and pear blossoms out in full bloom and trees sprouting everywhere, meanwhile, the Red Yao women, from various tribes and villages get dressed up meticulously and head over to the Huangluo Village to commence the annual event.
This year the event will be taking place all day on the 22nd of April 2023, (the third day of the third lunar month) at the Longji Terraced Fields Scenic Area in Guangxi province.
The ceremony begins at 10 am on the chain bridge with the sound of drums being played while guests are greeted with a glass of locally brewed rice wine and some sweet glutinous rice.
Next, we'll head over to Moon Island, where you can catch a glimpse of a real, live coming-of-age ceremony. This is where a young female Yao, (typically 17 years old) celebrates her entry to womanhood by having her long locks snipped.
The young lady is usually accompanied over a bridge to a special tree. Here the young Yao’s mother unties her daughter's headscarf and helps her comb her hair. At the same time, the sisters will sing an ancient song giving thanks to the mother.
The mother then will take out the scissors from a box and put them on the altar and then put incense on the special tree to thank her for her protection over many years.
After that, the scissors are handed to the respectable grandmother to cut her granddaughter's shoulder-length hair (the only haircut in her lifetime). The mother carefully wraps the cut hair in a cloth and puts it in a box for safekeeping. Later, this lock of hair will be married to her husband’s family.
After the haircut, typically the Red Yao’s sister-in-law collectively washes and cares for the young Yao’s long hair and reveals the thousand-year-old secret to gorgeous hair.
In the hearts of the Yao women, long hair has a very significant meaning. Long hair means "long-lasting and prosperous", symbolizing Longevity, wealth, prosperity, and auspiciousness. Red Yao have "three unique traits": "Hair is worn as a straw hat, bracelets are worn as earrings, and clothes are all made of silk ribbons." These three aspects are the quintessential characteristics of the Red Yao Tribe.
Married women wear their long hair on their heads in the shape of a snail, winding around their heads like the Dragon's Back Terraces. Women who have given birth still wear a bun in front of their foreheads, which is called an "Oolong bun". In order to make this hairstyle more plump and beautiful, they need to add two sets of hair, one is cut during the coming-of-age ceremony at the age of 17.
Unmarried girls cover up with headscarves and never show their long hair easily. They are called "girls of the night", as if they are keeping a secret, showing a more reserved beauty.
All the Red Yao women have long, black, and beautiful hair. Women with hair that can hang down to the ground are everywhere. At present, the longest hair in Huangluo Yao Village is 2.72 meters.
All in all, if you want to know the secret of long, luscious hair, this is the place to be!
Yao women from all villages, dress in gorgeous hand-woven costumes and come to the "Moon Island" to comb their long hair whilst showing off their natural beauty. This is an opportunity to showcase who has the longest hair and is considered the most beautiful in the village.
At the same time, unmarried young men and women will also look across the river to see if there is someone that catches their attention for a suitable partnership.
Now we head over to the Yaozhai Song and Dance Hall to listen to enchanting folk songs, drums, and witness traditional wedding customs, clothes drying, hairdressing and reunion dance, etc. All the Yao girls here are warm and delightful and talented at singing and dancing which is made all the more graceful due to their long hair.
Red Yao people are a branch of the Yao minority group. They are nicknamed "Red Yao" because the clothes they wear are mainly red. "Red Yao costumes" have been included on China’s national intangible cultural heritage list since 2014.
Red Yao costumes have no patterns and styles, and there are no written records. They have all been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. Yao women are all ingenious. When they were seven or eight-year-old girls, they learned how to choose clothes and embroider with their mothers.
Between the ages of five to fourteen years, they become masters of embroidery. Yao women do not need to make drafts for embroidery at first but rely on a pair of smart eyes and skillful hands to determine the position of the pattern according to the gauze eye of the line on the base cloth.
The clothes are embroidered with various patterns and designs, including colourful flowers and trees such as azaleas, plum blossoms, bamboo, hibiscus, and so on. There are also lifelike animals such as dragons, phoenixes, dogs, tigers, deer, unicorns, goats, and so on.
These are Red Yao women's understanding of nature in labour and production. The patterns weaved represent people's yearning for good weather, abundant grains, a prosperous population, herds of livestock, and a happy life.
Red Yao clothing consists of an upper shirt and a lower skirt. There are three types of jackets; Jinyi, Huayi, and Tsingyi; the skirt is a pleated skirt divided into upper, middle, and lower parts: the upper part is blue, the middle part is batik blue and white patterns, and the lower part is pleated. It is made of red and green silk; the accessories of clothing include headscarves, bellybands, belts, aprons, skirts, leggings, cloth shoes, silver earrings, bracelets, silver medals, etc.
The floral costumes are all hand-embroidered, and it takes a staggering three years to complete a set of clothes.
If you head over to the Comprehensive Plaza in the late afternoon, prepare for a cuteness overload! As the native children of Huangluo Red Yao Village, Yaomei, and elder brother, and sister will form the cutest modeling team you’ve ever seen! Interpreting the charm of Red Yao clothing by combining cultural traditions with fashion.
Nicknamed “The Great Reunion” the night is due to end at the Complex Plaza with a spectacular bonfire for all the family to enjoy. Here all the villagers and tourists gather together in one place to immerse themselves in the warmth of the blazing fire and listen to the sweet sounds of singing talents chanting ancient folk songs. This is a truly unique moment that ought not to be missed!
One last thing we forgot to mention is that we’ll be live streaming throughout various points of the day, so if you want to be a part of the special moment and learn more about Yao culture, don’t forget to follow and tune into our Instagram account on the day!
Welcome – 10-10.30 am China Standard Time (3-3.30 am UK Time)
Coming-of-Age-Ceremony – 10.30-11.30 am (3.30-4.30 am UK Time)
Rice Water Hair Washing – 11-12.30 pm (4 am-5.30 am UK Time)
Hair Combing Ceremony – 12.20-12.50 pm (5.20 am – 5.50 am UK Time)
Song and Dance – 12.50-1.30 pm (5.50 am – 6.30 am UK Time)
Clothing Display – 2-3 pm (7 am – 8 am UK time)
Catwalk – 3.30-4.30 pm (8.30 am – 9.30 am UK time)
Bonfire - 8-9pm (1-2pm UK time)
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