January 12, 2012

H is for Hair in Huangluo

We were en route to the Longji Rice Terraces in Guanxi province when we stopped to have lunch in a small village called Huangluo. 


The village is inhabited by the ethnic minority Yao and it has become a popular stop for tourists. Hence there was an array of minority clothing, jewelry, artwork and intricate embroidery for sale


What makes this Yao village unique is that its women have the longest hair in the world. Really, it's been certified by the Guinness World Records.

We had no inkling of this when we stopped here, but just as we were finishing lunch, I heard a bit of a commotion outside. I grabbed my camera and this is what I saw: a row of women standing on the edge of the river modeling their long hair and how they style it.


By tradition the Yao women cut their hair only once in their lifetime, at an age between 16 and 18 when they are considered adult and ready to get married. The cut hair is kept as a headpiece and is twisted into their standard hairdo.


 

The longest of the women's hair can grow up to 1.9 meters (6 feet) and the average is about 1.2 meters (4 feet). Imagine washing that every day... in the river!


  

Seeing these women later in modern street clothes tells me the tradition won't remain pure for long.

 Longsheng, Guangxi, 2007

Location - the red bubble:


If you would still like to see the hair being piled up, there is a short video (not mine) HERE. I posted an earlier photo of a Yao woman HERE.

The letter at Alphabe-Thursday is H.

26 comments:

Andrea said...

Oh this is my first time to hear that. I bet they don't wash their hair daily as it is cold in their area, and they can get lazy too! LOL. In high school our group of 10 let our hair long which reached our waists. I didn't cut mine at once after that and it reach past my behind almost at the upper thigh. It was also thick so very difficult to manage. I eventually cut it in college when i have less time for myself.

Mama Zen said...

Unbelievable!

Vicki/Jake said...

This really interests me...my hair is a bit past my waist so I need to ge see how they twist it up so nice and tidy:0 I still like mine down though. And yes, I'm kinda old to have hair this long..I'm a rebel:) Thanks for an awesome post again...

Vicki/Jake said...

Forgot to say I ranted on my post again! And borrowed a link:)

anitamombanita said...

Beautiful images and a fascinating subject. A great post! Thanks.

Kay L. Davies said...

Hard to believe they're the same people.
I had my hair down to my waist in the early 70s, but it was so thick and heavy, I had trouble carrying it around.

Carole Meisenhelter said...

really fascinating; I have seen them on tv before. Your photos were wonderful; what an intruiging place to visit! So colourful too..

jfb57 said...

Another post about hair! This is fascinating to see. I'm learning so much today on my visit to 'H'!

joo said...

I don't think it's very comfortable to wear such a long hair, but they look terrific. I also love their traditional clothes, and the artwork!

ladyfi said...

Amazing and lovely shots of their lovely long hair!

La Principessa Errante said...

I visited the region and took lots of pictures of the women and their hair too. My memory isn't all that great, but I recall the wearing of earrings also has something to do with their married status as well.

Wonderful, wonderful pictures, thanks for such an education.

☆☆Mumsy said...

Wow..this is a fantastic documentary piece, Francisca! I love their costume, very vibrant colors, and how they did their hair!

Beautiful photos..

Sue said...

Wow. That is pretty incredible.

=)

freefalling said...

Actually, that is a very sensible idea!
To chop some off when you've got stacks of it to keep for when it starts to get a bit sparse and ratty looking.
I remember my Granma used to keep a wig in her cupboard on a polystyrene head - it used to give me the creeps.
I never saw her wear it though.
She also had a fox stole with the face still on it - gross.

So grateful to Taphophile Tragics for introducing me to your blog - I'm having a lovely time traveling around the world with you.

tapirgal said...

Interesting. I'd never heard of this. Right, I would hate to wash all that hair. Besides the designs and the hair, I liked the last photo showing the contrast. I was going to say these women would hate what's going on in India where long hair is being sold for weaves in the U.S., but the modern women might jump at the chance to make some money and get rid of the baggage of washing it! I haven't seen "Good Hair" yet, but I'll bet it's a fascinating movie.

Gattina said...

Can't believe it ! what a chance you got to take these pictures for us too !
2m long hair !! With my baby hair I would look like a witch ! I don't think they wash it every day, maybe once a months ! What a work !!

EG Wow said...

Their hair is wonderful. I wish I could grow hair like that!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wow - I had never heard that before -- how fabulous these beautiful women are and what wonderful serendipity that you stumbled upon this. Thanks for sharing. (I canNOT imagine washing that hair at all, esp. in the river and couldn't blame the younger women for ending the tradition, but it would be sad to see it go.)

JM said...

WOW! Amazing, I love this series!

Judie said...

You wonderful woman! What an interesting post you have given us here! I used to have very very long hair, and it was also very thick. After I had children, I decided it was way too much trouble. Thank you for the sweet comment on my post. I really am a HEATHEN!!

Steph said...

What a great post on the Yao. A lot of the minority culture does seem to be dying unless tourism is involved, but the further you get off the beaten path the more it tends to be intact. I was blessed to visit the Guangxi countryside for the first time back in October during rice harvest, but didn't see any Yao. You have had such wonderful adventures and have such a great eye! Thanks for sharing this with us.

cieldequimper said...

Quite aside from the fact that this is very interesting (and that I love those colours) it reminds me that I have been trying to grow my hair for a long, long time (i.e. years) and it still doesn't reach below my bra...

Kaori said...

That is long. I used to grow out my hair very long when I danced hula because they believe that the gods dwell in the hair. I wonder if they have some sort of belief or it's just a tradition among women. Very interesting post!

Inger-M said...

Beautiful, interesting post from colorful China!

Jenny said...

Oh my heavens. What an amazing post.

This is really fascinating. I've never heard of this and how wonderful that you've shared it with us.

How incredibly lucky you were to be there and how incredibly lucky we are that you shared this.

I'm sending this link along to quite a few people I know.

Absolutely wonderful read!

Hooray for us!

Thanks for sharing this, again!

A++++++++++++++++

Evelyn Howard said...

Interesting.