April 21, 2014

1061 CHINA (Guizhou) - Long Skirt Miao women


Miao is an ethnic group who live primarily in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei, but also, in smaller numbers, in northern Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, and even in several Western countries, mainly in the United States, France, and Australia. Miao is actually the official Chinese term for four distinct groups of people who are only distantly related through language or culture (and doesn't reflect the self-designations of the component nations of people): the Hmu people of southeast Guizhou, the Kho (Qho) Xiong people of west Hunan, the A-Hmao people of Yunnan, and the Hmong people of Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Yunnan. There are some nine million Miao in China, of whom the Hmong constitute probably one-third. The Miao are related in language and some other cultural features to the Yao; among these peoples the two groups with the closest degree of relatedness are the Hmong (Miao) and the Iu Mien (Yao).

Much of the Miao area is hilly or mountainous, and is drained by several big rivers. The weather is mild with a generous rainfall, and the area is rich in natural resources. Major crops include paddy rice, maize, potatoes, Chinese sorghum, beans, rape, peanuts, tobacco, ramie, sugar cane, cotton, oil-tea camellia and tung tree. On the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and in some remote mountainous areas, Miao villages are comprised of a few families, and are scattered on mountain slopes and plains with easy access to transport links. Agriculture is the chief means of subsistence for all the groups, who in the past practiced the shifting cultivation of rice and corn (maize), together with the opium poppy. Opium was sold in lowland markets and brought in silver, which was used as bridewealth payments.

Their clothing has distinctive features which vary from place to place, even from village to village. Regarding dress, there are Long Skirt Miao, Short Skirt Miao, Black Miao, Flowery Miao and Long Horned Miao. In west Hunan and northeast Guizhou, women wear overlapping jackets buttoned on the front-right and trousers, with decorations embroidered on collars, sleeves and trouser legs. In other areas, women wear high-collared short jackets and full- or half-length pleated skirts. On their skirts, there are many patterns taking themes from life such as flowers, birds, etc. One of the most attractive, pleated skirts has as many as forty layers! They also wear various kinds of silver jewelry on festive occasions. The Miao embroidery and silver jewelry are delicate and beautiful. From hats, collars, and cuffs to skirts and baby carriers, the patterns on their clothes are extremely colorful, complicated but with clean lines.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a series of five, named Landscapes of Hongkong and issued in 1995.


The last two stamp are part of the series Traditional Sports of Ethnic Minorities of China (II), issued on September 10, 2011 and designed by Yin Huili and Mu Jing (all with the same face value: 1,20 CNI):
• Board Shoes Racing (Zhuang) - it's on the postcard
• Single Bamboo Drifting (Miao) - it's on the postcard
• Spinning Top (Yi)
• Stilt Racing (Tujia)

References 
Miao people - Wikipedia
Hmong people - Wikipedia
The Miao ethnic minority - China.org.cn
Miao - Encyclopaedia Britannica
Miao Nationality - Travel China Guide

sender: Zhao Weiwei (direct swap)
sent from Shanghai (Shanghai / China), on 17.03.2014

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