June 25, 2015

1691 CHINA (Guizhou / Guangxi / Yunnan / Sichuan) - A Gelao women

The Gelao people (also spelled Gelo) are an ethnic group of China and northern Vietnam. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by China. However, many Gelao are also variously classified as Yi, Miao, and Zhuang by the Chinese government. They number approximately 500,000 and are mainly located in the western part of Guizhou, being often considered the aboriginal inhabitants of this province. Some live in western Guangxi, southeastern Yunnan, and southern Sichuan. The main religion practiced is  Taoism with a small but significant Buddhist minority. The Gelao language is a dialect cluster of  Kra languages in the Tai-Kadai language family. Today, only a small minority of the Gelao still speak this language.

Gelao continued to wear their ethnic costumes until 30 or 40 years ago. Women wore very short jackets with sleeves embroidered with patterns of fish scale. They wore tight skirts divided into three sections, the middle one of red wool and the upper and lower ones of black-and-white striped linen. Gelo women also wore short, black sleeveless gowns which hung longer in the back. Their shoes had pointed, upturned toes. Men wore front-buttoned jackets, and both sexes wore long scarves. In the mountain areas, they eat mostly maize, while in the flatlands, they eat wheat, rice, millet and sorghum. All the Gelao love to eat hot and sour dishes as well as glutinous rice cakes.

Most Gelao festivals echo Han traditions, but some practices differ. At Spring Festival (the Lunar New Year) they offer a huge rice cake to their ancestors and after it is made, it remains untouched for three days. In some communities Gelao also celebrate the sixth day of the sixth lunar month by sacrificing chickens and preparing wine to bless the rice crop already in the fields. The sixth day of the seventh lunar month marks the second most important event of the year, a festival of ancestor worship. Oxen, pigs and sheep are slaughtered for ritual sacrifices to ancestors. On the first day of the tenth lunar month, Gelao give their oxen a day of rest. This is the day of the Ox King Buddha, and in some communities on this day oxen are honored and fed special rice cakes.

About the stamps
The stamps is part of a series of greetings stamps, about which I wrote here.

Gelao people - Wikipedia
The Gelo ethnic minority - china.org.cn
Gelao Ethnic Minority - China Travel

Sender: Hannah Chen (direct swap)
Sent from Xiamen (Fujian / China), on 29.06.2014

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