The Chinese Miao's Silver Jewels And Their Lusheng Musical Festival

By: Clare Liu


The Lusheng Musical Festival is an exciting and important event for the Chinese Miao people. During the festival, people wear their beautiful costumes and silver jewels, dancing and singing to express their feelings of happiness. About the origin of this festival, here is a story.
A handsome hunter was famous for his braveness and wisdom. He tramped the mountains and killed numerous wild beasts. One day, the hunter came to a small village where he saw lots of cattle, sheep, pigs, but no chicken or ducks. The villagers told him all chicken and ducks had been eaten by two huge hawks. So the hunter decided to eliminate these two evil hawks. He came to a cliff where the hawks' nest were built. Watching the hawks flying out of their nest, the hunter immediately shot them. The two hawks were removed. The whole village held a big banquet to feast the hunter and express their appreciation to him.
A girl in this village saw the handsome hunter at the banquet, and immediately fell in love with him. But before she tried to reveal her feelings to him, the hunter left the village. The hunter left, and also stole the girl's heart.
Year after year, the girl grew up more and more beautifully. Lots of young men tried to court her, but all were turned down. The girl only hoped to see the hunter again someday.
A white pheasant also coveted the girl's beauty, and dreamed to have her as its wife. But the pheasant knew the girl wouldn't marry an animal like him. So he thought over and over, and finally got an idea. One day when the girl was doing embroidery, the pheasant made a big storm which took away the girl to a remote forest.
The pheasant put the girl into a cave, and tried hard to convince her to marry him. But he only got rejected. Worrying that the girl might run, the pheasant made her into a coma. Every day before daybreak, the girl woke up and began to cry. Once the girl cried, the pheasant would utter a terrible sound to make her sleeping again. Hearing these terrible sounds and the cry, the residents nearby were scared and ready to move to another place.
One day the handsome hunter came to the forest and was told of the cry and strange sound. At night, he followed the sound to a big tree, found the pheasant, and shot him with his gun. He picked a piece of feather from the pheasant's body and put it in his hair. Looking more handsome in this way, he went back to the village, told the people about the story, and left.
After the pheasant died, the girl woke up and escaped from the cave. He met the people in the forest and told them her experience. The people said it's the hunter who saved her life. But the hunter left. The only sign he had was the white feather adorned on his hair.
The girl finally got home with the help of the local residents. She told her parents that the hunter was the only one she hoped to marry. But where to find the hunter?
Finally the girl's father got an idea, We hold a big party to sing and dance, and invite people from other villages to join us. Maybe the hunter will show up at the party.
The father used bamboo to make a musical instrument which was called Lusheng later. He also taught other people in the village to make Lusheng. With the Miao new year's coming, they held a grand festival to play the Lusheng music as the background. The exciting festival lasted for a few days, and attracted more and more people from other villages to come to join in.
On the ninth day of the festival, the hunter appeared, with a white feather adorned in his hair. He was invited to the girl's home. The father told everything to him. Finally the girl and the hunter got married.
The Lushang Musical Festival was held every year in the Miao areas since then. While dancing, the local people like to adorn their hair with a white pheasant feather. They believe the white feather is a symbol of good luck and help them find their Mr./Ms. Right. If they can't find a white pheasant feather, they will adorn their hair with a piece of silver jewel in the shape of a feather.

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C. Liu has been studying handmade silver jewelry, for years. Sometimes she promotes the work of select silversmiths. Go to her website to see great examples of Miao silver jewelry.

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