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No Silver Jewels? The Interesting Life Style Of Chinese Four Seals Miao

08.22.2009 · Posted in Home and Garden Articles

Among all the tribes of the Miao ethnic group in southwestern China, the Four Seals Miao is a conspicuous one. The women don’t have silver jewelry like other tribes, but wear colorful garments embroidered with four square patterns. Their pleated skirt are usually white or light blue. Some women like to use a long, wide blue cloth to wrap their hair bun.nnA village called Maige is hometown of the Four Seals Miao. The village in Miao language means ” a place with many plants”. Long time ago, a tribe of Miao had to migrate to the mountainous areas in southwestern China after they were defeated in a war. They wanted to have a peaceful life, but not harassed by the enemies anymore, so they decided to destroy all their identity documents. When a Shaikh was ready to throw the four big seals, the symbols of the tribe, into fire, a girl stopped him: No! Before you burn the seals, please print their patterns on my clothes. So, the soul of our nation will never die.nnSince then, the tradition of embroidering four colorful square patterns on womens clothes began in this tribe, which got them the unique name the Four Seals Miao.nnThe Four Seals Miao are famous for their extraordinary batik technique with a history of over 2,000 years. Women use a special knife dipped into melt wax to paint exquisite patterns like animals, birds, and flowers onto a white cloth. The cloth is then dyed in blue liquid, and placed into boiling water to take away the wax. At last lovely blue designs are printed onto the cloth.nnThe local women spin, weave cloth, batik, sew, and do embroidery all by themselves. To prepare a set of clothes for holidays, they often spend seven to eight months on sewing and embroidery. Their frocks have a big, multiple layered collar embroidered with colorful designs. The largest seal- a square pattern on the front of the frock is especially noticeable. Their pleated skirt are highlighted with the embroidered horizontal lines which represent the rivers and lakes their ancestors ever crossed during their migration throughout China.nnPeople build houses with stones and dirt. Corn is their staple food. Only in new years or holidays, they can afford to eat rice. Their farmland is on the hillside. Women carry a back basket contained with manure, and go to mountains to fertilize their land. Everyday they go back and forth 6 to 7 times. Their life is simple and hard.nnMany holidays are held for single, young people to look for their life partners. Each year, on the fifth day of the first lunar month, they will hold an exciting Flower Dance Festival where young people get together to sing and dance. In the evening they will have a bonfire party where they sing love songs to express their feelings.nnThe ceremony of releasing soul of a dead person from purgatory is also held during this festival. One man is selected to wrap his body in the dead person’s clothes, singing and dancing, with the Lusheng music as a background. In this way, the dead person’s soul could ascend into the heaven.nnIn their spare time, the local Miao people like to raise thrush. They put the thrush into a cage, and listen to their beautiful songs. Some thrush are trained to imitate the sound of other animals, like rooster, cat, and dog. If you go to their village on a beautiful sunny day, you will always hear the sweet songs of a thrush.

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