long hair village

Long hair village Huangluo: the Red Yao minority

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Huangluo Long hair village: where they all have, well, long hair

Welcome to Huangluo Long Hair Village, an ancient Chinese village renowned for its unique tradition of long hair (some as long as 7 feet) and its belief in rice water’s magical properties. As we explored this remote village, we became immersed in a world of age-old traditions, captivating stories and encountered some – interesting -marriage customs. So, let’s embark on this adventure of learning and travel together, as we uncover the secrets of Huangluo Long Hair Village!

The Long Hair Tradition

So, we went to visit this ancient Chinese village called Huangluo known as the ‘long hair village’. The women here only cut their hair once in their lifetime, around their 18th birthday, and are known to have some of the longest hair in the world reaching up to 7 feet long. Even their cut hair stays with them as they wrap it into their growing hair, keeping it on their heads by wrapping it in cloth.

Each day they spend a long time brushing their hair, and that too is gathered and wrapped into their growing hair. Odd, I thought.

However, they do this, believing that it leads to a long life. So, they feel investing time and effort into their hair is worthwhile, which makes sense!

The Village’s Rice Water Belief

They wash their hair in the leftover water that has been used to clean the rice. Now, the older generation in the village has no grey hair. And they believe this is because of the rice water and the fact they have never used any chemical shampoos.

They even featured in Vogue!

All sounds lovely. But! I had an alternative theory.

Meet the Pan family of Huangluo Long Hair Village

Long hair village

Observations and Comparisons

We then met the oldest woman in the village, 88-year-old Pan. Mrs Pan did indeed did look well with her shiny black hair. Then we met others. “What’s her name?” I asked. “Oh, Pan.” “Mmmhmm” “And her over there?” “Yes, that is Pan. They are all Pan. All related”. Aha!

Now far be it from me to burst a 2000-year-old bubble, but I’m just thinking…

Given that they never leave the village. And no outsiders have ever come to live in the village. Maybe, just speculating, this glorious black hair may be somewhat down to genetics than rice water, but who does know? I’m just sayin’.

Mbunza medicine magic

It reminded me of the Mbunza tribesman we visited in Africa (Mbunza tribesman, his canoe and me: 3 things that should not go together ) who showed us the medicinal leaves they use from various trees. “We rub this one on babies legs when they are about ten months old, and after this, in the coming times, they start to walk.” “Before rubbing their legs with the leaf, they cannot walk.”

Yes, well, this would be true enough.  I just nodded politely.  Who am I to come along and point out the obvious!!

So, anyway, I don’t know the properties of rice water or walking inducing leaves, but if it works for them, then it’s working.

Anywayyyy, I was more interested in the marriage story.  Germaine Greer, even you, can have this one for free…

Huangluo Long hair village: it’s not blind date

There are four conditions that men look for in their potential woman to marry.  Three big – one small.
Brace yourself, ladies:

1: A big voice
This is so they can shout to their husband working in the fields, to let him know when she has the food ready for lunch.  What would a poor man do if he couldn’t hear his wife calling him for food?

2: A big butt (their words)
This is, so potential husband knows she will be capable of giving birth.  The bigger the better as, apparently, huge butts are required to have boys.  Eh?
This did remind me of my Grandmother referring to people as having ‘childbearing hips’, whatever they were supposed to be!

3: Big feet
So she can walk faster and further in the fields.  Meaning she can get her field chores done quicker and have more time to look after her man.

4: Small fingers
Much of the traditional work is sewing and embroidery, so small fingers mean you are going to be better at sewing work.  Of course, of course.

Long hair village

Okay so, yes, this does seem bad enough.  And, interestingly no mention of the length or colour of your hair!  But maybe it’s just very traditional.  The man requirements will be to be strong and look after your woman, some such, something, I thought.

Well.  There are only two conditions.  Here they are…

It’s a man’s world

1: Your potential man must be good at drinking rice wine.
What, you say?  Yip.  Visitors to your homestead will always be offered a rice wine on arrival.  So, your man has to be able to hold his drink.  (I know, I know.)

2: He must be good at singing.
Now.  I don’t know, don’t even…I do not know.

Clearly, a man made these rules, that’s all I can say. And, at this, I felt it was time to leave the long-hair village to their hair, big butts and rice wine-drinking singing men and move on up the mountain.

As we bid farewell to Huangluo Long Hair Village, we left with unforgettable memories of its captivating customs and unique way of life. The women’s commitment to maintaining their long hair and the village’s belief in the power of rice water may seem unusual, but it reflects the deep-rooted traditions and values that have been passed down through generations. Our encounters with the Pan family and the local villagers provided valuable insights into their way of life, reaffirming the richness and diversity of human cultures around the world.

As we continue our journey of learning through travel, one thing remains certain–there’s always something new to discover and appreciate in every corner of the globe. So, let’s embrace the wonders of exploration and keep our hearts and minds open to the wisdom and beauty that different cultures have to offer. Until the next adventure awaits, let’s cherish the memories we’ve made and look forward to the stories that lie ahead!Long hair village

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