Biasha (Basha) Miao Village, the last gunner tribe in China
Some 4,000 years ago, Chiyou, the ancestor of the Miao minority, was defeated in a battle, so he led his army to the west of China, with one detachment of the army staying in Biasha. Maybe that explains why the men of Biasha are all good at martial arts, which is part of their tradition.
Special Miao Customs
This Biasha Miao is quite different from other Miao groups in terms of clothing and daily life. Biasha people belong to the Miao branch that is least affected by modern civilization. Even in the modern times, they still lead very traditional lives.
The local villagers’ ethnic costumes are made and dyed (mostly in deep blue biotic dyes, egg white and pig’s blood) by themselves in the traditional way, with almost the same design pattern, usually diamonds and lines, and most have an eggplant color. Some Biasha people do not wear shoes, even in winter.
There is a little secret about women's pleated skirts. Those with skirt hemlines of white insets are married woman. Others with hemlines as black as the skirts themselves are single girls.The men there are also famous for their unique hairstyles. Like the men of the Qing Dynasty, Basha men wear their long hair in braids. They shave around the outside with sickles and leave the middle section in a ponytail, which is then coiled up atop the head. This ancient hairstyle has existed in Biasha for thousands of years.
Men are often seen carrying a claymore (type of sword) in the waist and a hunting rifle over the shoulder, which remains a common ornament, though there are no longer many animals and birds to hunt.
Like woman's skirts, men's hemlines also hide a little secret. Notice that every man's hemline is embroidered at the back like littltails. They are actually gifts from girls. Each tail shows that he has gained the heart of a girl. Just count the tails if you want to know who is the most popular man in the village.
Tall and big trees can be found everywhere in Biasha Village, with every tree being numbered in order. There is a swing hanging down from each big tree, which is strong enough for two people to swing and play on. That's the avorite entertainment in Biasha Village. But the swinging is not just for fun. It is also a place where young people fall in love with each other. If a man goes to push with the girl together the higher the swing goes the deeper their affection is.
Unique Fossilized Lifestyle
A horizontal board is hanged above the entrance to Biasha Village, inscribed with ‘China’s First Village of Tribe Culture. In pubilc holidays, When visitors arrive, a group of villagers with long guns will stop them outside the village, while another group loads a homemade cannon. In fact, they are preparing a special Miao welcoming ceremony for the visitors.
Though only 7km away from Congjiang County town, with the state highway 321 passing through, the 2,140 villagers, more like a tribe, seldom connect with the outside world. They lead a self-sufficient life in the hilly areas. Biasha is a place where ancient culture is completely protected. Antiquated wooden spinning wheels and looms, leisurely old people, the elusive local Miao language...
In the Miao language, "Biasha" means a place where trees flourish. Biasha villagers still burn incense under ancient trees on festivals to pray for bliss.
The ancient trees, including maples, firs, pines, and camphors, each hundreds of years old, have been protected as carriers of ancestor's spirits for enerations. No one dares to cut any branch of these ancient trees, even if it is dead. Anyone who cuts any branch will be penalized severely. They will have to give 60kg of wine, meat and rice to fellow villagers. Penalties are also imposed in cases of crimes like theft, robbery or drug-taking, according to village rules.
As most of China's minorities carry on their traditional funeral ways, Miao people here still bury their dead,in firewood coffins. Firs of more than 60 years old are the only wood used for this purpose. Villagers plant trees for themselves or their descendants on hills every year.
Biasa village is about 7.5 kilometers away from Congjiang county town. To go from the town you can hire a chuck chuck or walk through to the other side of a bridge then take a local mini-van. Hiring a taxi from the street to Biasha will cost you Y30 at most. Or, you can hire a van for around Y150/day to cover Biasha and the other 2 Dong Villages in Congjiang.
Accommodation is neither necessary nor available in Biasha, as it's only 7KM away from Congjiang county town. >> Congjiang
Remark: most part of the text is sourced from Cookie Wu's article on Beijing Today