Armed and Dangerous, Biasha Miao Village in Zhaoxing County
Lying on the southern border Guizhou, Basha village is famed for being China 's last tribe of gunmen. This primitive Miao village is hidden away in a forest and filled with stilted wooden houses by the river. Basha village, in the southeast corner of Guizhou in Zhaoxing County is home to over 1,000 residents living in more than 400 households. Their ancestors were frontline troops who charged through forests and fought the bears there -- all to guard the land where they lived. Through hundreds of years, they have been guarding their homeland. Still today the men in Basha preserve their musketeer heritage, which makes Basha the only tribe that can legally carry real guns in China. A strong sense of precaution inherited from their ancestors keeps this village isolated from the outside world. The villagers lead a self-sufficient life in the hilly areas and retain the dressing and living customs hundreds of years ago.
The villagers in Basha worship trees, especially maples, as gods. They believe the buns on their heads represent trees, while the purple clothes they wear represent bark. (The color is a special bluish purple. Biasha people usually add egg whites into the indigo when dying the coarse cloth, making it shiny and waterproof.) In Basha, a tree is planted whenever a baby is born. Often it will be cut down to make the coffin when the person eventually dies. Cutting down ancient trees is forbidden in the village.
Basha men are also famous for their unique hairstyles. Like the men in the Qing dynasty, Basha men wear their long hair in braids. They attach great importance to their hair bun, which they believe is a symbol of masculinity, as well as an emblem of power. This is a hairstyle that 's existed for thousands of years.
Young boys have to take part in a shaving ceremony between the ages of seven and fifteen. The tribe leader wets a sickle with the water used to boil eggs, and shaves off all of the boy's hair except for the central part, which is coiled into a bun. The blade caresses the scalp, and patches of hair fall to the ground. This shave is done without any shaving cream, or even a rinse. Boys get their first haircuts as a rite of passage, and then are given a hunting rifle at the age of 15 as a sign that they've become adults.
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.
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.
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