Miao Festival in Laomen Village

Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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What I did

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012

Today was a Miao festival in Laomen village, the same village we visited for market day. We wanted witness the Miao custom and dance. Jacky was already booked to drive Dave the Scot all the way back to Kunming so he arranged a driver for seven of us; Tomoko and Sho, the Japanese couple, and Cath, Chouchou and Luo, team France. At the last moment, Chouchou wasn't feeling well and just came to see us off in the foggy morning. We woke to clouds yesterday morning but this morning was even more socked in.

The drive seemed to go faster this time. There was virtually no traffic and the way was now familiar to us. We dropped down to the banana plantations before we broke through the cloud cover and into glorious sunshine.

We arrived early, well before things got rolling, and found the main area for the dancing. It was a grassy depression surrounded by the dirt roads at the edge of town. A high pole was erected with flag streamers coming down. We learned the dancing wouldn’t get started for a few hours. Our companions, in three groups, France, Japan, and America, split up each exploring Laomen on our own. The town itself is mostly dirt streets with piles of litter left over from Market day. Taxi trucks and motorcycles with families began to arrive from small villages in the mountains surrounding Laomen. As the population of the town grew, we made our way back to the festival area.

At last, we were seeing what we came for, the faces in the crowd. It was great to see the young and old women upholding the traditional dress of their ethic group. Today, it was a festival for the Miao people, identifiable by their orange pleated skirts and black leggings. There are other ethnic groups in the crowd. The town is known to include Dai, Hani, Miao, and Yao, Yi, and Zhuang. I sketched of some of the costumes and Jacky put names to some of them for me.

The men no longer continue to dress traditionally and some of the young are torn between modern trends and tradition. We see young men with dyed and fluffed up hairdos. Young girls with draped in traditional dress but wearing pump high heels and a few others girls with blue jeans under their traditional skirts. In our 5 days in this area, 98% of the women we have seen have been dressed traditionally. It is definitely not life in the big city. Is this the last generation holding to tradition? The older women wore hand made costumes. The younger ones bought machine made traditional skirts at the market and mixed in modern touches.

We met Brian and Kristina again. They had been staying with a family in Laomen for four days after spending just one or two days up in the terraces. Kristina was loaned a traditional costume by the family they were staying with. She wore it well.

The dancing began closer to 11:20 than 12:00, first an all girl group, then a mixed group, then a solo young man in in jeans and a tee-shirt doing a Chicken dance. His probably was not really the chicken dance and more likely with a name like Eagle, Dragon or Viper, who knows? While his dress was modern teen scruff, his dance appeared to be very stylized, traditional and probably with a story to it. He was very proud of his dance. All the dances were to recorded music. A nicer touch would have been live musicians.

The surrounding festival goers watched quietly without applause. We all had agreed to meet at the van at noon. We found each other at the dance arena and agreed to overstay our noon rendezvous time. A half a dozen short dances and a few hundred pictures were enough. We were in the van and on our way back to Duoyishi by 12:30.
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