Home > Chinese Culture > Ethnic Groups > Miao

Miao Nationality

Ask Question

Woman of Miao Nationality
Woman of Miao Nationality

The Miao ethnic group has a population of 8,940,116, mainly scattered in Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hubei and Hainan provinces.

The Miao's ancestry can be traced back to the 'Chiyou' tribe, a tribe in the primitive society in the Central Plains. During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Miao's ancestors began to construct their kingdom in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Later, they gradually migrated to the southern part of China. (today Hunan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Hainan, Guangxi and other provinces)

The Miao ethnic group has its own language which belongs to the Miao-Yao Austronesian of Chinese-Tibetan Phylum. They used to have their own character, but now it is lost. At the beginning of the 20th century, they invented a kind of phonetics character named 'Old Miao Character'. Now Chinese is widely used by the Miao people.

They used to believe in many gods and worship their ancestors or dragons. Now some of them believe in the Catholic or Christian religion.

Much of the Miao area is hilly or mountainous, and is drained by several big rivers. Due to a mild climate and sufficient rainfall, major crops here include wheat, paddy rice, maize, potatoes, Chinese sorghum, beans, rape, peanuts, tobacco, ramie, sugar cane, cotton, oil-tea camellia and tung tree.

In southeast Guizhou, west Hunan, Rongshui in Guangxi and on Hainan Island, they eat rice, maize, sweet potatoes and millet as staple foods. In northwest Guizhou, Sichuan and northeast Yunnan, they mainly eat maize, potatoes, buckwheat and oats.

Music of Miao People
Music of Miao People

The clothing of the Miao ethnic group is various and colorful. In northwest Guizhou and northeast Yunnan, men usually wear linen jackets with colorful designs, and drape woolen blankets with geometric patterns over their shoulders. In other areas, men wear short jackets buttoned down the front or to the left, long trousers with wide belts and long black scarves. In winter, men usually wear extra cloth leggings known as puttees. Women's clothing varies even from village to village. In west Hunan and northeast Guizhou, women wear jackets buttoned on the 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. They also wear various kinds of silver jewelry on festive occasions.

They are fond of singing and dancing. Their songs are very pleasant, rhyming and affecting and with a very deep emotional content. The Miao's dances include the lusheng dance, drum dance and bench dance. Lushen is the favorite musical instrument of Miao people. In addition, flutes, copper drum, mouth organs, xiao (a vertical bamboo flute) and suona horn are popular.

Miao people in different places celebrate different festivals. In many areas, they have Dragon Boat Festival, Flower Mountain Festival (May 5), Tasting New Rice Festival (between June and July), Pure Brightness Festival and the Beginning of Autumn Festival. In Yunnan, 'Stepping over Flower Mountains' is a popular festivity for the Miao. Childless couples use the occasion to repeat vows to the god of fertility and young people sing love song in antiphonal style to select a sweetheart.

Miao People in Traditional Costume
Miao People in Traditional Costume
Houses of Miao People
Houses of Miao People

Autumn Fair: As a traditional festival, the Autumn Fair is held at the beginning of autumn every year. On this occasion, people of both sexes and all ages exchange festival greetings as they meet each other along the way. Activities such as swing, ladder climbing, dragon dances and lion dances would be held during this festival.

 More ethnic minorities of China:         Naxi           Nu          Oroqen          Ozbek 

Questions & Answers on Miao Nationality
  • i want men clothing for the new year. where can i buy it?...
    i want traditional clothing of miao hmong.
    thank you!
    Ua Tsaug!

    Asked By Yang (America) | Mar. 28, 2013 12:21
    1 AnswerAnswer Question
  • Do Miao need to be married to have children

    Asked By Ada (USA) | Jan. 29, 2012 17:06
    1 AnswerAnswer Question
Ask a Question about Miao Nationality
Back Go Top