GUIZHOU PROVINCE, THE GUYUNG AREA AND THE ETHNIC GROUPS THAT LIVE THERE

GUIZHOU PROVINCE

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GUIZHOU PROVINCE is a hilly, mountainous, remote province in southwest China. Situated between Hunan, Guangxi, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, it is known for its beautiful countryside, festivals and ethnic minorities make up more than a third of the population. In 1935, during the Long March, Mao Zedong consolidated his power here and took control of the Chinese Communist Party. Chongqing, 300 kilometers north of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou, is regarded as the gateway to Guizhou.

Guizhou is one of China's poorest provinces. According to one estimate in the early 2000s, 70 percent of the population was illiterate, and a third of the people lived in severe poverty. Things are a little better now. Guizhou is rich in minerals but it doesn't have the infrastructure to deliver them to the marketplace. There is a saying in Guizhou: "there aren't three days without rain, three miles without a mountain or three coin's in anyone's pocket." About 90 percent of the land is covered by mountains and a forth of the villages can not be reached by road.

Even though only 12 percent of the land is arable, farmers make the most of it by harvesting two crops a year in a patchwork of fields between limestone hills and low granite mountains. Homes, walls, terraces, bridges, aqueducts, roads, dikes and dams are all built from stone. Travel is not easy. The trains are slow and bus and truck journeys are rough.

Many parts of Guizhou have been relatively untouched by the economic reforms and growth that has swept up much of China, Many peasant and minority families still sleep in open-air huts, collect water in the mountains with shoulder poles, sleep under thin quilts in the winter and subsist off cornmeal gruel. Many people are too poor to buy plow animals or fertilizer or afford electricity. In the remote Duyun prefecture, 3.8 million people live below the poverty line of US$1 a week. Many people here say they lived better in the Mao era, when at least they were guaranteed grain rations and given subsidized medical care and free schooling. [Sources: the New York Times and Time magazine] Map: China Highlights China Highlights

Guizhou Province covers 176,167 square kilometers (68,018 square miles), is home to about 35 million people and has a population density of 200 people per square kilometer. About 47.5 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Guiyang is the capital and largest city, with about 3.5 million people. Guizhou is the 7th poorest province in Chinese based on a per capita GDP. Minority groups — including Miao, Yao Yi, Dong, Qiang, Bouyei, Shui, Gelao, Bai, Zhuang, Tujia and Hui — account for more than 37 percent of the population. A total 55.5 percent of the province area is designated as autonomous regions for ethnic minorities. Guizhou has the highest fertility rate (2.19) of any province in China. Maps of Guizhou: chinamaps.org ; China Highlights China Highlights

Known as “Qian” for short, Guizhou lies on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in southwestern China. Its terrain descends from west to east, with widely scattered with striking limestone and Danxia landforms and unique features like numerous underground rivers, dammed highland lakes and spectacular peaks and rock formations as well as fossil beds, rafting rivers, hot springs, Buddhist shrines, cave coffins, stone carvings, mural paintings, ancient architecture, folk customs, cultural attractions and 120 scenic sites of which the most famous are are the eight state-class scenic resorts — Huangguoshu Waterfall, Dragon Palace, Zhijin Cave, Red Maple Lake, Yanghe River, Libo Zhangjiang, Maling River Gorge, and the Chishui River — and the seven national nature reserves, — Fanjing Mountain, Molan Karst Primitive Forest, Chishui Primeval Forest, Weining Grass Lake, Xishui Broadleaf Forest, Leigong Mountain, and Mayanghe Francois’Leaf Monkey Reserve in Yanghe.

Guiyang

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Guizhou map
Guiyang (300 kilometers south of Chongqing, 450 kilometers northeast of Kunming) is the capital and largest city, with about 3.5 million people. There isn't much to see but some people change trains or catch buses here . Formerly spelled Kueiyang and situated on the Nan-ming Ho River, it is an industrial center. With iron, coal, and bauxite production and has traditionally manufactured mining equipment and automobile tires. Guiyang was very isolated until the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) when it was linked to the rest of China by highway and railroad,. The city has a teacher-training college, medical school, and university.

Guiyang Metro opened its first line (Line 1) in 2017 Line 2 is expected to open at the end of 2020 and Line 3 in 2022 or 2023. Line S1 and Line T2 are also under construction,Line T2 is a tram which has been lengthened to 15.2 kilometers and has 17 stops. Line 1 runs from Douguan (Guanshanhu) to Xiaomeng Industrial Park (Huaxi). Expanded in 2019, it has 35.11 kilometers of track and 25 stations. Guiyang Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net

Tourist Office: Guiyang Provincial Tourism Bureau, Tower 5, 346 North Zhounghua Rd, 550004 Guiyang, Guizhou, China, tel. (0)-851-689-2101, fax: (0)-851-68-2309 Web Sites: Wikipedia Wikipedia Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; Maps of Guiyang: chinamaps.org ;

Getting There: Guiyang is accessible by air, train and bus. Chongqing is regarded as gateway to Guizhou. Guiyang is about 300 kilometers south of Chongqing. AirAsia flies between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur and Chongqing. Guiyang is a major railway hub and is accessible by train from Chengdu, Guangzhou, Kunming and other major cities in China. Some of the trains are slow. The newer ones are quite fast. The 857 kilometers Guangzhou-Guiyang High Speed rail has shortened the journey from Guangzhou to Guiyang to four hours. At present, over 30 pairs of these trains run everyday.. The same number of high speed G trains run between Guiyang North Railway Station and Kunming South Railway Station, taking two to three hours. Currently, there are over 10 pairs of trains running between Beijing and Guiyang. Among them, there are four high speed G trains which take about 9 to 11. The D type Guiyang-Beijing train takes 11.5 hours. Normal trains take between 26.5 hours and 41 hours. Travel China Guide Travel China Guide

Sights in Guiyang City

Guiyang Financial Center Tower 1 Guiyang is the 40th tallest building in the world. (as of 2020). Completed in 2019, it is 401 meters (1,316 feet) tall and has 79 floors. The South China Morning Post reported: “Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province in southwest China, one of nation’s poorest provinces, will have two 335-meter, 74-storey towers completed in 2017. “It will be hard for a city like Guiyang to find quality tenants to fill the space,” David Ji of Knight Frank, a leading international property consultancy, Ji said. “And there is “certainly waste” amid the construction boom because of the disconnect between supply and demand, he added. [Source: South China Morning Post, February 14, 2017]

Jiaxu Tower is landmark structure of Guiyang City. Jiaxiu (First scholar) Tower was built in 1597 and rises more than 20 meters high in three stories. Twelve stone columns support the structure, which is fenced by white hollow-out stone railings. The entire tower, with painted beams and overhanging eaves, stands amidst the water in picturesque, setting and has been called “Lesser West Lake.”

Guizhou Provincial Museum highlights the ethnic minority culture of of Guizhou. You can see costumes and art of the Miao People as well as items of other groups that live in the province such as Yao Yi, Dong, Qiang. Bouyei, Shui, Gelao, Bai, Zhuang, Tujia and Hui. Places you can shop for ethnic stuff include the Guiyang Arts and Crafts Factory (Jiandao Street, Tel: +86-851-5828097); Guiyang Cultural Relics Store (West Zhongshan Road, Tel: +86-851-5816813), Qian Yi Bao Specialty Store (159 Beijing Road, Tel: +86-851-6873382) and Qianling Park Service Dept. Kylin Cave, Qianling Park, Tel: +86-851-6826301)

Near Guiyang

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Xifeng Concentration Camp is a Red Tourism sight and was the largest, and highest-level prison set up by the Military Commission of the Nationalists (Kuomintang, KMT) government during the Anti-Japanese War. It consisted of an office at Yanglangba of Xifeng County and the prison itself, at Xuantiandong. The Camp was referred to as a "university" within the system, while Baigongguan Prison and the Wanglongmen House of Detention, in Chongqing, were the "middle school" and "primary school" respectively. This camp was a provincial and municipal base for patriotic education in Guizhou province and the city of Guiyang, in 1997, and it was added by the State Council to the list of major historical and cultural sites under State protection, in 1988. Admission: 15 yuan for the old Xifeng Concentration Camp site. Getting There: bus from at Station No 1, on Yan'anxi Rd, between 8:00am and 5:00pm, with buses leaving every 20 minutes or so.

Huaxi Ethnic Scenic Spot (16 kilometers from Guiyang City) is dotted with Miao, Bouyi and Dong villages. The ethnic groups entertain tourists with singing and dancing at touristy Lusheng parties. The best way to see the area is trek around with a guide. Huaxi Park is a nature reserve with underground caves with clear rivers and stalactites. Also in the area is the ancient city of Qingyan, known for its nine monasteries, eight temples and four towers which are placed on a plateau.

Hongfeng Lake (32 kilometers west of Guiyang) is actually a series of three lakes bordering Qingzhen and Pingba County. The lakes contain many beautiful bays and islands. Surrounding the lakes are mountains and ravines covered with dense forest. There are many Dong villages here. Dong girls sing, dance, and entertain visitors in a tourist village.

Duyun (100 kilometers southeast of Guiyang) is the home of the “chicken feather Miao." They wear perhaps the most elaborate costume of any ethnic group in Asia. Web Site: Travel China Guide

Anshun Area

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Bouye girl
Anshun (96 kilometers southwest of Guiyang) was once the center of the Chinese opium trade and now is known for its aerospace industry. There are about 650,000 people in the city and 2.3 million in the prefectural area. There isn’t so much to see in the city itself but the limestone scenery around the town is quite beautiful, and there are many charming villages in area. Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Hotel Web Site: Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Anshun is accessible by train and long-distance bus. A trip on the public bus between Guiyang and Anshun takes about two hours. Travel China Guide Travel China Guide

Dragon Palace (32 kilometers the east of Anshun) is an underground cavern with waterfalls, a 10,000-square-meter lake called Heavenly Pool, and other underground scenic spots that can be explored by boat and on foot. Purplish stalactites drop down from the arched roof of the cave at the entrance. If you follow Heavenly Pool far enough you'll arrive at Dragon Gate Falls. Below the falls is a huge room which resembles a crystal palace and above the falls is a huge stalactite covered arch called Dragon Gate.

There are many caves, stone forests and waterfalls near Dragon Palace, which is also known as Longgong Caves. The South China Karst area which extends across a large area of Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan Provinces has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO World Heritage Site Map: UNESCO

Tunpu Villages in the Anshun Area

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Miao girls
The Tunpu Villages refers to a group of villages inhabited by Han Chinese who descended from 200,000 Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) soldiers who originated from Nanjing when it was China's capital and conquered Guizhou in 1381 after defeating the Mongol army, but then did not return home. Wang Kaihao wrote in the China Daily: “Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, ordered them and their family members-most from eastern China-to establish fortresses and defend the southwestern border of the newly built empire. Thirty per cent of the soldiers remained on all-day military duty and the rest farmed, preparing for war. In the following decades, two million more people from East China were relocated to this area to develop the economy. These migrants didn't marry locals and lived within their neighbourhoods, called "tunpu".” [Source: Wang Kaihao, China Daily, April 4, 2012]

The Tunpu Villages are part of the Huangguoshu Scenic Area, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. According to the report submitted to UNESCO: Tunpu Scenic Spot includes the humanity landscapes featured with mystical Tunpu villages, and the natural landscapes represented by the graceful, idyllic scenery and abundant vegetations. There are scattered fenglin and charming scenery. Tunpu Scenic Spot is a karst region developed most sufficiently, symbolized as the combination of cone fenglin and large corrosion basins. The scattered fenglin is marked by various morphology and pretty shapes, with high aesthetic value. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“Tunpu Ancient Village in Qiyanqiao, Anshun City, is defined as the biggest and best-preserved village dating from Ming Dynasty by Shanghai Guinness World Headquarters. It’s a historic defensive stone-based village without destroying the natural terrain. The idyllic scenery of Tunpu village is a representative of the man-land relationship under the condition of karstification, reflecting the natural transformation following the regulation of nature. Meanwhile, Tunpu village also preserves stone carving and wood carving, representing the harmonious unity in the interaction’s process between human and nature. As a result, the site meets criterion (viii) on containing the utterly beautiful karst fenglin and idyllic scenery.

Dating back to 14th century, Tunpu Scenic Spot is a production of the integration between Han culture of Yangtze-Huaihe region in China and the culture of the ethnic groups in northwest China. And it has witnessed the possibility to take advantage of the natural endowments by karst mountain populations since 1370. Learning from each other, the Han peoples and the local communities in northwest China rationally use the land, water and biological resources of the regions with karst fengcong-depression.

“Baojiatun Ancient Irrigation System: Baojiatun and rural ancient irrigation system approximately are built in the late 14th century, namely Hongwu fifteen to thirty-one (1382-1398). There are 11 dams, for instance, Shuicang dam, fish mouth-shaped diversion dam, Huilong dam, Shuinian dam. The total length of the dams is 730 meters, and the ditches are 3200 meters long.

Tunpu Village People and Culture

According to the report submitted to UNESCO: “Tunpu Scenic Spot has witnessed the communication and integration between the traditional mainstream culture and Western culture of different ethnic groups. Tunpu people creatively take advantage of the building materials of stone and wood to create living space of different ethnic groups, exhibiting a high degree of adaptability to the natural environment and coordination. Baojiatun Ancient Irrigation System of Tunpu Scenic Spot, an example of the harmony between human and water in the world, provides a powerful support for the study of the history of water management in China and plays an important role in the reference and inspiration of water control by human beings. It is a living example of the dependence between mountain and nature in mountains. Agricultural economy is the basis of the formation of Tunpu culture.

“Representing the communication and integration of farming culture between plains and karst mountains since 14th century, and the traditional water-drought crop rotation and intercropping technology system of mountain villages, Tunpu Scenic Spot is a living example of intensive cultivation agriculture in China even eastern Asia area since the 14th century, and the important living fossil of multifarious agriculture in the world. Wulongsi temple is a collection of the Buddism, the Taoism and the Confucianism, which integrates the functions of religious and military defense. The outer wall of the buildings is made of stone, which is rarely seen in building of the Han nationality, and it is honored as "a model of stone buildings" and "a bright pearl in mountains" by building experts. Wulong temple is a "miracle of ancient temple architecture" in China.

“The residents of Tunpu successfully supply the farming technology of plains in the east areas of Asia to karst mountain areas, creating the unique rural scenery which reflects the harmonious relationship with the land, water and biology in karst mountain areas. As a result, it is a living illustration of the interdependence between human and nature in karst mountain areas. Huangguoshu Scenic Area is the traditional human settlement, the example of ancient Chinese Yangtze-Huaihe culture, Bouyei and Miao culture and cultural development in the karst area, and the representative of the longitudinal interaction between human and the karst natural environment. Huangguoshu Scenic Area is on the verge of disappearing as the accelerating destruction of the relationship between man and nature by modern agricultural machinery, petrochemical agriculture and city life. As a result, the site meets criterion (v) on revealing the traditional settlements, the fusion of the Han culture of Yangtze-Huaihe region, Bouyei culture and Miao culture in karst areas, the harmony between human and earth, and so on.

“Tunpu Scenic Spot, dominated by Tunpu culture as a principle line and some external manifestation patterns as links, combines villages, architecture, customs, dramas, religious belief and natural scenery as a whole, forming a featured scenic area. The terrain is flat in Tunpu, and the land types are mainly the hills and wide valleys. The countryside and ancient village scenery combine the natural beauty with man-land harmonious beauty successfully, constituting unique Tunpu Scenic Spot. In Tunpu Scenic Spot, the largest and most integrated village, dating from Ming Dynasty, is preserved, where the minorities have been living here for a long time. Because of unique humanity resources, and outstanding era characteristics. Walking in Tunpu villages, you can feel the historic vicissitudes, the people’s wisdom and the harmonious beauty of land utilization.

Visiting a Tunpu Village

Wang Kaihao wrote in the China Daily: “As our car approaches a cluster of eight ancient villages in Anshun... I feel like we've travelled back to the fourteenth century.Every village looks like a fortress built of stone. Women clad in blue robes and kerchiefs walk by the muddy road. “The history of these age-old communities is highlighted at a small museum, where I make another discovery.At the museum's entrance, four dancers wearing masks perform dixi, which literally means "the opera on the ground". Ming soldiers would perform operas before fighting to improve morale, with a gong and a drum used to recreate the sounds of the battlefield. [Source: Wang Kaihao, China Daily, April 4, 2012]

“Our first stop in Yunfeng Tunpu is Benzhai, one of the best-preserved tunpu villages.” Our guide “Quan wears the traditional dress but without a kerchief. "The kerchief is symbol of marriage," she explains, shyly. "I am still single." While millions of Chinese women in ancient times bound their feet-a status symbol that allowed them to marry into money-women living here never followed the tradition. Instead, they wore a kind of pointed, embroidered shoe, which made their feet look slim. Some of these shoes are now on display at the museum. Unlike the women who continue to wear traditional attire, the men mostly wear contemporary clothes.

“Walking around the maze-like village, it's easy to appreciate how an outsider can get lost-and how an invader would meet his doom in this fortress, with its highly developed security systems. Seven watchtowers overlook the village. Inspection holes can be found everywhere, functioning like latter-day closed-circuit television monitors. Every house is linked with secret passages, through which residents can move around and exchange messages.

“I meet 40-year-old Yang Sheng-yi, a 17th-generation silversmith. He stops his work and cordially shows me a silver decoration, which won a prize at a province-level competition. His son is sleeping in the bedroom, and Yang says he expects the boy to carry on the family's tradition of craftsmanship. Though official figures show nearly 1,000 people live in Benzhai village, many locals, especially men, have found employment elsewhere.Perhaps as a result, the village doesn't have the hustle and bustle of modern civilisation or the bars and karaoke joints found in other ancient villages and towns.

“We continue our journey, uphill, to Yunshantun village, where merchants used to set up home in order to avoid seasonal flooding. The village's main street retains elements of its past: The gateway was built in the Ming Dynasty, while the middle section was formed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and some Western-style villas were constructed during the Republic of China (1912-49) period. The moon-shaped village only has two access points. With the two gates blocked, it would have been almost impossible to invade, so it would have been a safe place for rich merchants to preserve their properties, even though there is no gun port or watchtower.

“I sit in front of a stage built in the Qing Dynasty, expecting another dixi performance. However, I'm told the "opera on the ground" cannot take place on the mountain slopes. Merchants in the old days gathered here to enjoy Peking Opera or other kinds of operas from their hometowns in East China.”

Ancient Buildings of Yunshantun-Benzhai and Gaodang

Yunshantun-Benzhai and Gaodang Ancient Building Complex (15 kilometers east of Anshun) are part Huangguoshu Scenic Area, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. According to the report submitted to UNESCO: Made of stone, wood, soil and other materials, the karst villages of Yunshantun-Benzhai and Gaodang Ancient Building Complex included in the property boundaries exemplify the architectural and artistic achievements of China s Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China. Fitting into the meandering creeks surrounding villages, idyllic landscapes and fenglin landscapes, those ancient buildings integrallty retain intact ancient villages courtyard architecture, street pattern, defense systems and construction techniques. Baojiatun Ancient Irrigation System completely preserves all the elements of Chinese Ancient Irrigation System, including water gaps, Shuicang dam, fish mouth-shaped diversion dam, Huilong dam, Shuinian dam and canalization, which composes the integrity of karst ancient villages together with idyllic landscapes and Fengcong landscapes. Wulongsi Ancient Building Complex intactly preserves the patterns of ancient Chinese temples, showing the integrity of the Buddhist temple construction through the four Front Gates, the Great Buddha Hall, Winghouse, Daozuo, Yuhuangge, Sutra Chanting Hall, the Hall of Patriarch and other architectural series. Linked by paved roads, these buildings made of stone and wood, fits nicely with karst fengcong landscapes around. Getu River Cave burial retains coffins of local ethnic groups since the Qing Dynasty, and the intact local customs of ethnic funeral culture and ancestor worship give full expression to the unique wisdom of the natives of taking advantage of karst environment. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“Yunshantun-Benzhai Ancient Building Complex: It contains 198 ancient buildings, including 187 Folk Houses, 3 temples, 1 ruin of theater stage, 3 Tun Walls, 3 Tun Gates, 1 school and 1 pavilion. Consisting of 32 groups, the concentrated Folk Houses were built in Ming & Qing Dynasties, and the main forms of which are ―Sanheyuan, ―Siheyuan and individual buildings. Composed of the main room, Winghouses, and doors, the traditional courtyard houses of which the plane has obvious central axis. ChuanDou-style houses are wooden structures, rubble foundation. Overhang Hills, capped stone tiles, and ―Binglie-shaped natural stones as the ornamentation consists the main features of roofs, and rectangular flakes are rhombus laid on the roof. Column bases, arches, doors and windows and so on are the main decoration positions, and there are elaborate carvings on some wood and stone components.

“Wulongsi Ancient Building Complex: Built in Ming Wanli 18 (1590), it is a group of wonderful and spectacular ancient buildings, experienced several times repairs and expansions during Chongzhen years, Qing dynasty and the Republic of China so that it almost reaches perfection. Named the miracle of ancient temples of China, the ancient buildings are harmonious with surrounding environments with original design, grand scale, and special shape. The Wulong temple is an ancient temple which is the integration of Buddism, Taoism and Confucianism. Relics of Wusangui like saber, the scepter and court dresses are preserved in the temple. The Wulong temple is composed of the Front Gates, the Great Buddha Hall, Winghouse, Daozuo, Yuhuangge, Sutra Chanting Hall, the Hall of Patriarch and other architectural series. There are four Front Gates in front of the temple. The first gate is HengMen made of stone, which was built in Qing Qianlong 32 (1767); Built during Qing Guangxu period (1875~1908), the second gate is constructed of stone named PailouMen; QuandongMen is the third gate which connected with rocks built in the Republic of China 25 (1936); And the fourth gate is the main entrance to the Wulong Temple, which was built in the People’s Repulic of China (1920). Behind the Great Buddha Hall, Yuhuangge was a temple with single eave roof in the past built in Chongzhen 10 (1637). On the right side, there is the Sutra Chanting Hall built during Qing Qianlong (1736~1795). There is a platform in front of the Hall of Patriarch, which is the highest point of Wulong Temple. In front of the platform, there is a screen wall, where there are railings on the left, and the paved roads was built to connect with the front porch of the main temple hall.

“Gaodang Ancient Building Complex: It contains 57 ancient buildings including 25 Folk Houses, 2 ancient wells, 2 village gates, 1 school and 1 pavilion and 3 fortifications. Chuandou-style houses are wooden structures, rubble foundation. Overhang Hills, capped stone tiles, and ―Binglie-shaped natural stones as the ornamentation consists the main features of roofs, and rectangular flakes are rhombus laid on the roof. Column bases, arches, doors and windows and so on are the main decoration positions, and there are elaborate carvings on some wood and stone components.”

Getu River Scenic Spot

Getu River Scenic Area (77 kilometers southwest of Anshun) is regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of Karst landscape in the world. It is part of the Huangguoshu Scenic Area, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. According to the report submitted to UNESCO: “There are some pretty landscape combinations of karst, gorges and caves in Getu River (Getuhe) Scenic Area, called a rare karst nature park. It almost contains all the features of karst landform, such as fenglin, fengcong, gorges, valleys, depressions, most of which are rarely seen in the world. On both sides of Getu River River are full of beautiful scenery, such as cliffs, stone inscriptions, cave burials, cliff coffins” and the world’s second largest undergorund chamber. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“The three caves of Dachuandong, Wangtiandong and Shangchuandong share the same sky, forming the magnificent and wonderful views. Shangchuandong Cave is the highest remains of fossil river course; Xiangshuidong Cave is the deepest shaft of underground rivers with the depth of 216 meters; there exist the final troglodytism tribe in human history — Miao Village in Zhongdong Cave. It not only has shown the skillful works of heaven, but the harmonious beauty of nature respecting and remodeling by human. Getu River Scenic Spot is a serial interconnected whole, constituting the unique karst natural park.

Getu River Scenic Spot “ assembles valleys, rivers and pristine vegetation as a whole, with the features of magnificence, precipitousness, deep and serene, grace and pretty and primitive simplicity. They are representative and valuable in ornament, science, aesthetic, preservation. In Getu River Scenic Spot, the rich karst landscapes are grand with various landscape types and high quality, and Miao culture has followed from one generation to next

Miao Ethnic Group

The Miao are a colorful and culturally- and historically-rich ethnic minority that lives primarily in southern China, Laos, Burma, northern Vietnam, and Thailand. Originally from China, the Miao are animists and ancestor worshipers and have traditionally lived in villages located at 3,000 to 6,000 feet.

The Miao are known in Southeast Asia as the Hmong (pronounced mung). They are ethnically different and linguistically distinct from the Chinese and the other ethnic groups in China and Southeast Asia. Even though they have intermarried a great deal with the Chinese, they are shorter and their eyes and faces look different than those of Chinese. The Miao can be quite different from one another. The difference between Miao groups is often as pronounced as between Miaos and non-Miaos.

Hmong means "free men." Miao means :weeds” or ‘sprouts." The Chinese used to call them man, meaning “barbarians," The Laotians, Vietnamese and Thais call them the Meo, which means essentially the same thing as Miao. Hmong and Miao subgroups---Red Miao, White Miao (Striped Miao), Cowery Shell Miao, Flowery Miao, Black Miao, Green Miao (Blue Miao)---are in most cases named of the color of the woman's dress. There are two main groups in Southeast Asia: the White Hmong and Green Hmong.

The Miao are one of the largest minorities in China. They are widely distributed over Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi and Sichuan provinces, with a small number living on Hainan Island and in Guangdong Province and in southwest Hubei Province. Most of them live in tightly-knit communities, with a few living in areas inhabited by several other ethnic groups. The main Miao settlements are in the Southeastern Guizhou Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, the Southern Guizhou Bouyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, the Southwestern Guizhou Bouyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, the Western Hunan Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, the Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, and the Rongshui Miao Autonomous County in Guangxi Province. The Southeastern Guizhou Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture has the highest concentration of Miao. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~]

The Miao have very long history. Because they are scattered very widely, Miao in different places have quite different customs, and they go by many different names, After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, these disparate groups were given the standardized name: "Miao".

Miao People in the Getu River Area and Their Unique Culture

Fifteen groups of Miao people with different languages, clothes and customs live on the banks of the Getu River. According to the report submitted to UNESCO: “The cultural landscape of Miao in Getu River is a social culture generated by using the natural environment in the special karst mountainous area by ancient ethnic Miao of China in the fourteenth Century A.D. The distinctive troglodytism tribe culture, cave burial culture, and climbing culture are the historical witnesses of local people to make the best of the local natural environment. The abundant national culture, agricultural civilization and village building style also reflect the interdependence, mutual development of man and nature in the karst mountainous area. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“The Miao of Gutuhe is a resident lived in the southwest of China, mountainous area of Southeast Asia. They are approximately isolated with outside in a tough mountainous area, the traditional ways for living had preserved such as cow plow, hand-operated agriculture, corn storing, brewing technology and developed a unique countryside landscape in karst mountain area. The Miao of Gutuhe is still using traditional production tools and techniques to cultivate, and the ancient Miao lifestyle continues to this day and forms a good ecological balance.

“The Miao villages of Gutuhe Area are located in the karst mountainous area on the western of China. As the local residents cut off by the inconvenient traffic, each village has well-preserved their culture. Among them, the cave villages that make full use of local karst caves for living, production and funeral activities are still well preserved and continued. The unique wooden houses, sheds, warehouses and reservoirs with bamboo hedge structure and hanging coffins on the rock walls fully reflect the traditional social structure and national culture of the local Miao people.

“Getu River Scenic Spot is an outstanding example of an ancient natural culture of human beings in the world. It reflects not only an inherited process of ancient natural culture, but also a developing process of an old nation who lived in a landform based on the karst mountain. Getu River Scenic Spot is of unique culture developed in the mountainous area for thousands of years. The exceptional structure of buildings, traditional custom, hanging coffin with cave burial and rock climbing vividly depict the pictures of the inhabitants who use limit resources of land, biology and water to develop in a narrow land of the karst mountain areas. That made a probability for old Miao culture existing in the karst mountain areas and forming an exceptional culture that has not been found in other Chinese karst areas. The present characters of the landscape are the result of Miao culture developing in the karst environment during hundreds of years and it is an outstanding example of a traditional human production and life-style with the natural environment. It is a traditional human settlement representative of a culture on mountain areas which has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible changes such as the developing of modern agriculture, public infrastructures addition, urbanization development and economic policy for poverty alleviation. As a result, the site meets criterion (v) on reflecting the ancient buildings of Miao, troglodytism tribes and the culture of hanging coffin with cave burial.

“Miao is an old nation with a long history. According to the statistics, there are more than 10 million Miao people living in about 20 countries and regions in the world. The Miao culture has a history of over 2,000 years, and the history of the remains of Miao culture is over 600 years. Getu River Scenic Spot is the most complete, multiple and unique culture of Miao in the world. Miao culture in Getu River is formed by the long-term interaction between the culture of Miao and local karst environment. Firstly, Geluohe Scenic Spot is mainly mountainous area. Miao villages are distributed in various fengcong-depressions and fengcong-valleys. Due to the lack of communication caused by topographic obstacles, various types of Miao culture can be developed and preserved. As a result, the most abundant Miao languages in the world are well-preserved in Getu River. Secondly, numerous karst caves and karst hills provided natural environment for the development of multiple Miao culture. Near Xiaochuandong (light through cave), there is the final troglodytism tribe in human history-Miao Village in Zhongdong Cave. The Dahe Miao village located at the middle of Getu River River is an outstanding example of the culture of Miao village in the world, for the conservation of traditional stilt houses, languages, customs, clothing and agriculture production mode. Last but not the least, Getu River Scenic Spot is known in the world for its amazing cultures of cave burial and rock climbing based on the limit natural space. We can reproduce the picture that people overcame the extremely harsh living condition to survive and development hundreds of years ago through the survived Miao village. These unique and precious Miao ancient cultures are of highly historic and cultural values for human beings to understand ancient civilization and human cultural diversity.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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