The activity, “roaming around” attracts thousands of visitors to Xingren county, Guizhou. [Photo/ Qianxinan Daily]
Unlike how most couples meet today, either through friends, family or online, many young Miao men and women still take part in a mass courting ritual involving performance, singing, and dancing.
So popular has this custom become to the outside observer, that Miao courting events are even staged as a part of greater public performances extolling the intricacies and quirks of their unique cultural heritage.
A Youfang, or “roaming around” activity was performed in Xingren county Qianxinan Buyei and Miao autonomous prefecture, Guizhou province in early February attracting many keen participants.
Similar to the practices of nomadic cultures in Africa, such as the Tuareg, single Miao men and women dressed in traditional costume gather together and sing choral songs – if a particular couple attracts one another’s eye they may exchange a love token, called a “diubabin” in Miao dialect. The singing is accompanied by lusheng reed pipe music and other performances such as stilt walking.
The ceremonies are becoming less popular and frequent due to the increasing prevalence of modern technology such as the internet, according to to Yang Changlong, an expert from a local Miao culture study society.
“In order to keep our heritage, we have proposed to formally establish an annual event like this, and to celebrate it on the ninth day of the Lunar New Year,” said Yang.