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Songtao Miao

(On 28 December 2002 an unsolicited email arrived in my mailbox with three photos attached - one of two beautiful girls with fine turbans and chunky silver necklaces, another of a stone house and a third of a man blowing a water buffalo horn. I sent back an email asking if the photos were of Miao in China. The next day four more photos arrived plus a statement identifying the photos as being of Songtao Miao. The statement is set out in full below the photos. I created this web page and then, in mid February further photos arrived which are now included below. On 5 June 2004 another email arrive with 16 more photos attached - an no explanation. Judging from the dates associated with the images the photos were taken over a period of about two years and some were taken at the same time as some of the early photos which had been sent. These have now been incorporated into the photogallery below.

For an exhibition of embroidery designs and how they are used on the Songtao Miao costume see Songtao embroidery)

My subsequent research found that the Songtao Miao are in Songtao Miao Autonomous County in Tongren Prefecture in the eastern corner of Guizhou. (Within the prefecture, there are 9 counties: Tongren, Jiangkou, Songtao and Yuping to the east; Yinjiang, Dejiang, Sinan, Yanhe and Shiqian to the West plus Wanshan Special District, the biggest mercury mine base in China.) Songtao county is very remote and is bordered to the north by Chonqing and the east by Hunan province. The Famous Fanjingshan Mountains are located in the border areas of the three counties of Jiangkou, Yinjiang and Songtao. The Taiping River Valley at the foot of Mt Fanjing in Jiangkou County has been chosen as a provincial scenic spot recently for its outstanding mountain scenery and access to Mt Fanjing.

There are references to Songtao Miao with some photos in "Clothings and Ornaments of China's Miao People", Cultural Palace of Nationalities originally published by The Nationality Press in 1985 (p16-33) and also "A Picture Album of China's Miao Costumes and Ornaments" published by CIP in 2000 (p 212). The latter volume describes the Songtao costume style as being worn in Songtao County in Guizhou and in Xiushan of Chongquing City and Fenghuang, Mayang, Jishou, Huayuan and Baojing of Hunan Province. See the China bibliography for full details of both books.

images Wu yingjian
Click on thumbnail for full size images.  Click on large image to return here
to 32K Jpeg Looking down onto the narrow terraced slopes in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to 45K Jpeg Looking through the karst limestone cliffs down into a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to 34K Jpeg Stone houses in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to 46K Jpeg Fine dry-stone walling around a house in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 54K  Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province
to Jpeg 34K Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
Click on thumbnail for full size images.  Click on large image to return here
go to Songtao Miao embroidery photogallery
to Jpeg 37K An old woman, wearing her turban which may be between 6-10 metres in length, watching the festivities in a Miao village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 37K An old man smoking his pipe at a festival in a Miao village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 53K Old woman watching a festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 8 Augus, 2003.
to Jpeg 47K Back view of the silver decorations on the headdress of a Miao girl at a festival in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 48K Back view of a Miao girl at a festival in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province. Note the silver decorations peeping out of the headdress and the bold embroidery collar covering the back of the blouse.
to Jpeg 54K Close up of the back view of a Miao girl at a festival in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province. Note the bold embroidery collar covering the back of the blouse.
to Jpeg 58K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 4 February, 2004.
to Jpeg 57K Detail of back of woman's festival jacket in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 5 February, 2004.
to Jpeg 59K Detail of man's festival trousers in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 5 February, 2004.
go to Songtao Miao embroidery photogallery
Click on thumbnail for full size images.  Click on large image to return here
to Jpeg 55K Weaving loom, in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 63K Display of embroidery on a bed possibly for a wedding in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 54K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 29 January, 2004.
to 57K Jpeg Miao girls in woven turbans and heavy silver jewlry at a festival in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to 41K Jpeg Miao man blowing a horn during a festival in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 52K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province
to 48K Jpeg Miao festival dance in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 45K A group of Miao girls in their festival finery including the striking woven turbans 6 -10 metres in length in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 57K Jpeg 52K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province
to Jpeg 51K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province
to Jpeg 52K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 10 March, 2003.
Click on thumbnail for full size images.  Click on large image to return here
go to Songtao Miao embroidery photogallery
to Jpeg 52K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 8 August, 2003.
to Jpeg 57K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 8 August, 2003.
to Jpeg 56K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 1 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 47K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 9 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 57K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 9 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 57K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 26 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 59K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 26 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 54K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 26 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 59K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 9 May, 2004.
to Jpeg 57K Festival in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, Eastern Guizhou Province, 26 May, 2004.
Click on thumbnail for full size images.  Click on large image to return here
go to Songtao Miao embroidery photogallery

Honoured guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The beautiful photos are of Songtao Miao, Xin Zhai Village (Miao king's city), Zheng Da township, Songtao Miao Autonomous county, Guizhou province, P R China. A warm welcome to Songtao. It is Miao - Nationality Festival day today. It is a happy day now, but was a tragic day long ago. Our ancestors had looked for a safe and happy place through a long journey of climbing montains and crossing rivers. Tears and sweats turned to be the characteristics of fortitude, industry, optimism. They laughed at all hardships and survived after miserable struggling.

We have been breathing the fresh air and bathing in the sunshine of New-China. Though our economy and conditions are still far behind the developed area, we are on the right way to affluence and happiness.

We get together here today to enjoy the culture of Miao - Nationality and the beautiful scenery of Songtao. Druming, singing and dancing - enjoy your selves here and go back with our best wishes. Songtao is an open place, we appreciate your coming and hope you come to Songtao again.

Thank you!

Wu yingjian ( Miao )

images Wu yingjian
to Jpeg 46K Miao women dressed in their festival finery and examining cameras a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
to Jpeg 37K Miao girl dressed in her festival finery testing the camera in a village in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren Prefecture, eastern Guizhou Province.
Click on thumbnail for full size images.  Click on large image to return here
go to Songtao Miao embroidery photogallery

A subsequent enquiry about the date of the festival(s) in Songtao has brought forth this somewhat cryptic answer:

"Is the traditional China calendar: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Jan., 8 April, 6 June" which has been 'translated' as meaning that the festivals are held on the first fortnight of the first lunar month, then on the 8th day of the fourth lunar month and on the 6th day of the 6th month.

Click to see photographs which appear to have been taken in an exhibition of Songtao Miao embroidery showing the designs and how they are used in the costume.
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this page last updated 17 July, 2011