Miao people, one of China’s 56 ethnic minority groups, is often compared to Jews in Europe as historically Miao people had been living under constant exile and under threat for thousands of years. The ancestor of Miao people is Chiyou, the head of Jiuli tribe, who lived in the region of Huang River more than 5,000 years ago. After Chiyou was defeated by Huangdi and Yandi, two tribal leaders in China’s Ancient Epochs, in the war of Zhulu, a village in Hebei province, Miao people began their immigration from north China to western and southern parts of China.
Today, the largest cluster of Miao people not only in China but also in the world is living in south China’s Guizhou province, which is called Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village. While literally “Xijiang” means “West of the River”, the village is located on the north side of Leigong Hill and southeast of the town of Kaili in southeastern Guizhou province. “Qianhu” simply means “one thousand households” as there are more than 1,000 Miao families living in the town where the Miao culture is still well preserved.
Besides China, Miao people are also living in Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. While there are more than 13 million Miao people throughout the world, more than 9 million are living in China. Some are also living in Australia.
As seen in the above picture, today’s Xijiang is not some mystical Miao village perched in the foggy mountainous areas of Guizhou, but rather a tourist attraction for those who want to acquaint with the Miao culture. However, its thousand years of history still needs to be revered.
At the entrance gate, buses are prepared (not free) for visitors to get to the heart of the village which is about two kilometers away from the gate.
On the way to the village, traditional wooden Miao houses on one side of the road are under construction, and once you step into the busy village flooded with visitors, you would miss this quiet place with few travelers.
As you go further inside the village, you may find that the village is not as quiet and peaceful as you thought, with too many tourists and too much commercialization. Walking along the river, you will find lots of restaurants, trinket stores, silver jewelry shops and guesthouses.
The street along the river looks more like a pedestrian mall decorated with traditional construction than a Miao village.
For those who want to experience the Miao culture a little more, there are also traditional costumes for hire and taking pictures by the river and with the mountainous village in the background.
However, if you are looking for some quiet place away from the crowd and want to take a closer look at the impressive village, there are several guesthouses and restaurants built on the steep slopes. Those would be perfect spots for you to overlook the construction.
Also, you can walk from one Wind and Rain bridge to another, and get a few steps away from the main street and tourists.
(Pictures in the article were taken in Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village by Sino-US.com reporter Chunmei.)