Zhuang Traditional Dress

Zhuang dress

The Zhuang women have become particularly self-sufficient when it comes to making their own clothes. They grow and harvest cotton, which they then spin into thread and weave into cloth. They dye the cloth using locally sourced plants or vegetables and embroider it with great skill. At this rate, they could practically start their own clothing range!

Since the Zhuang population is so widespread and diverse, their traditional dress varies greatly from region to region but tends to be characterised by the use of muted colours such as black, blue and brown. Throughout Guangxi the men typically wear a collarless jacket that either buttons up the centre or the right side. They wear loose trousers that are sometimes embroidered at the hem and occasionally will don a round cap or formal hat.

The women in northwest Guangxi tend to wear collarless, embroidered jackets that button along the left side with either wide trousers or pleated skirts. Married women will wear embroidered belts or will have a band embroidered around their jacket. In southwest Guangxi the women also wear collarless jackets that button up the left side but prefer to wear black square headbands and loose trousers. Most women will complement their outfits with silver jewellery and some wear a variety of beautiful turbans or headscarves on festival occasions. These vibrant headscarves can be so large that they practically dwarf the wearer and look like colourful fans atop the women’s heads.

 

Zhuang Festivals

Zhuang New Tear

The Zhuang people celebrate many of the traditional Chinese festivals, such as Spring Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival, but they do have a few of their own! The Singing Festival, the Ox Soul Festival, and the Ghost Festival are considered the most significant, although other smaller festivals, such as the Frog Festival, have their own quaint charm.

The Singing Festival

The Singing Festival, also known as “Sam Nyied Sam” in Zhuang and “San Yue San” in Chinese, takes place on the 3rd day of the 3rd month according to the Chinese lunar calendar and falls sometime during April. Before the festival takes place, offerings will be made to the ancestors and the clan cemetery is cleaned. It is then that the Zhuang youths embark on a 3 day-long trial of almost continuous singing!

Zhuang SanyuejieAs the name suggests, this festival is all about singing and people from nearby villages will gather, sometimes in their thousands, simply to serenade one another. Some songs are predetermined, but many of them will be improvised and are designed to make people laugh. Choirs will even challenge each other to singing matches, where participants try to think of innovative lyrics that their competitors can’t match. Zhuang girls will also compete in a game known as the Bamboo Pole Dance.

The festival is sometimes referred to as the Zhuang Valentine’s Day because it’s one of the few times in the year when unmarried youths can mingle freely. Thus it is often seen as the perfect opportunity for men and women to meet their future partner. Five-coloured rice is a festival speciality and is prepared by first dyeing rice using locally sourced plants to turn it black, red, yellow, purple and white, and then steaming it until it is fragrant and perfectly cooked. Don’t let the vibrant colours put you off; this rice is a real treat!

The festival commemorates a legendary girl called Sanjie Liu, who lived sometime during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). She was an extraordinarily competent singer and no one could match her in singing competitions. Although in the original legend she might be a Han girl who was only renowned for her singing, the legend was changed in 1949 to suit political purposes and was popularised by the 1960 film Liu Sanjie.

In the new version of the legend, she is described as a courageous Zhuang girl who confronted the local landlords and exposed their baseness in her songs. Her rebellious attitude eventually led to her being kidnapped and drowned in a pond by the landlords. However, she emerged from the pond riding on the back of a carp and ascended to heaven, where she became the Goddess of Singing. Regardless of the political propaganda that surrounds this legend, the date of the festival is largely believed to coincide with that of Sanjie Liu’s death. The show Impression Sanjie Liu in Yangshuo is loosely based on her legend.

The Ox Soul Festival

Zhuang Ox Soul FestivalThe Ox Soul Festival takes place on the 8th day of the 4th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, falling sometime during May, and is dedicated to worshipping the Ox King. It is believed to coincide with the Ox King’s birthday and, on this day, he supposedly descends from heaven to protect his subjects from illness. Not only are oxen indispensible to the Zhuang as draft animals, but they strongly believe that the ox was sent from heaven to help them, so many Zhuang communities regard them as holy animals.

On the day of the festival, all manner of sacrifices will be made to the Ox King, from glutinous rice to whole chickens. No one is allowed to work their ox that day and farmers must go to the cattle barns to free the animals from their yoke. The oxen are then bathed, which is accompanied by the beating of drums. Finally, oxen are fed with five-coloured rice while the owners sing folk songs. The Zhuang believe that all of the whipping and hard work during the ploughing season causes the oxen to lose their souls, so this festival is designed to summon their souls back. It reflects the love and respect that the Zhuang have for their work animals. After all, everyone needs a little TLC now and then!

The Ghost Festival

Zhuang Ghost FestivalThe Ghost Festival is celebrated over a period of several days and starts on the 14th day of the 7th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, or sometime during August. At the start of the festival, families will stop work and clean their homes rigorously. They then prepare an offering of duck, pork, and good wine, along with some candies and fruits, and welcome the ghosts of their ancestors into the house. When the festival ends, the family will say goodbye to the ghosts and burn objects that they think the ghosts will need in the afterlife. The Zhuang people worship their ancestors like gods and so this sombre festival is designed to honour them.

The Frog Festival

Zhuang Frog FestivalThe Frog Festival is held throughout the 1st month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, and commemorates an ancient deity known as Mother Frog. This deity is the daughter of the Thunder God and is the carrier of rains, so during this festival people pray for rain and a good harvest in the coming year. The highlight of this festival is a special Frog Dance, where performers don frog-headed hats and dance like the frogs found in the famous Rock Paintings of Mount Hua.

 

 

Zhuang Ethnic Minority

zhuang minority 01

With an estimated population of approximately 18 million people, the Zhuang are the most populous of all the ethnic minorities in China. Nearly 90% of Zhuang people can be found in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with smaller constituencies in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou, and Hunan. Compared to Mandarin Chinese, which only has 4 tones, their indigenous language has a staggering 8 tones and is closely related to the languages of the Dong, Bouyei and Dai ethnic minorities, as well as the standard Thai of Thailand and the standard Lao of Laos. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, they also boast two different writing systems!

Though nowadays many Zhuang people use the Romanised script that was created in 1957, some locals still use an ancient writing system known as Sawndip or Old Zhuang Script. This system uses Chinese characters but only for their sound value and in some cases new characters have been created by adding or removing strokes from existing Chinese characters. Sawndip was mainly used by shamans to write anything from folktales and myths to songs and medical prescriptions, and has become an invaluable academic resource for people researching Zhuang history. Their most famous literary work, Baeu Rodo, is an epic poem about the creation of the world. It is over 10,000 lines long and phenomenally has been transmitted orally for over 1,000 years!

Now I don’t know how far you can trace your family back, but I’m willing to bet that the Zhuang have you beat! According to contemporary archaeological evidence, the Zhuang’s origins can be traced all the way back to the Palaeolithic Age, which occurred over 2.6 million years ago. They were initially conquered by the Han people in 214 BC, during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), and suffered from a tenuous relationship with the imperial government up until the abolishment of imperial rule in 1912.

Frequent peasant revolts broke out in Guangxi primarily because the Zhuang were mistreated by the government and subjugated into a landownership system that favoured the Han authorities but deprived the local Zhuang farmers. This system was abolished when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) ended and the Zhuang have led a peaceful and largely uninterrupted existence ever since.

zhuang rock paintingThey are thought to be related to the ancient Luoyue people and the earliest indication of this connection can be found among the Rock Paintings of Mount Hua. While the Han people spent their time plotting their domination of China, evidently the Zhuang were far too busy painting! These paintings date back to the Warring States Period (c. 476-221 BC) and cover a colossal length of over 200 kilometres. They are made up of 287 groups of murals that are distributed throughout 183 different places.

The Mother Frog, an ancient deity who looks half-human and half-frog, is a common theme throughout these murals and is almost always painted red. Other motifs include running dogs, birds, bronze drums, the stars, and the sun. In Ningming County, there is one mural that is over 40 metres high and 170 metres wide, meaning it is 10 times as tall as an African elephant, over 3 times as long as an Olympic swimming pool, and the largest of its kind in the world!

Nowadays most Zhuang villagers live in stilted wooden houses known as diaojiaolou. These are two-storey dwellings that are suspended on stilts, with the ground floor being used for storage and the upper floors being used as living spaces. The key difference between the Zhuang diaojiaolou and those of other ethnic minorities is the incorporation of a central room where an ancestral shrine is kept. This shrine is used to worship the family’s ancestors, as well as deities such as the Kitchen God and the God of Wealth. If you want to get to known the Zhuang first-hand, we recommend visiting Ping’an Village or Longji Ancient Zhuang Village in Guangxi.

Read more about Zhuang Ethnic Minority:

Traditional Dress       Zhuang Spirituality       Festivals       Other Customs

The Spirituality of Mongols Ethnic Minority

Mongolian Spiritulity

Most Mongols follow a folk religion known as Mongolian shamanism, which is part of a much broader Central Asian faith called Tengrism. It combines numerous shamanistic[1] and animistic[2] elements, and is intrinsically intertwined with aspects of the Mongolian people’s tribal culture. However, during the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Buddhism grew in popularity throughout China and soon became mingled with Mongolian shamanism, producing a new branch of the religion that is often referred to as Yellow shamanism. It is so-called because it incorporates many features from the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” sect of Tibetan Buddhism. This serves to distinguish it from another form of the religion that adamantly rejected Buddhist teachings, known by the ominous title of Black shamanism.

Generally speaking, Mongolian shamanism is centred on the worship of deities, called tngri, and the God of Heaven or ultimate deity, known as Tenger. From the 13th century onwards, Genghis Khan was elevated from legendary conqueror to godlike entity, as he is considered to be one of the embodiments of Tenger. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in the city of Ordos serves not only as a monument to his historical legacy, but also as a religious centre where he is worshipped.

Within the pantheon of gods, the highest group are the 99 tngri, 55 of which are benevolent or “white” and 44 of which are malevolent or “black”. These are followed by the 77 natigai or “earth-mothers”, below which are numerous other deities of various types and functions. Historically the tngri were common to all clans, and could be called upon by special individuals known as shamans (böö) and shamanesses (udgan), who acted as intercessors between the human and the spirit realm. However, under certain circumstances, clan leaders, nobles, and even commoners could interact with the spirit world.

Mongolian spirituality 01After these core deities, there are three groups of ancestral spirits that were usually specific to a clan. The first were the “Lord Spirits”, which were the souls of previous clan leaders; the second were the “Protector Spirits”, made up of the souls of great shamans (ĵigari) and shamanesses (abĵiya); and the final group were the “Guardian Spirits”, consisting of the souls of smaller shamans (böge) and shamanesses (idugan). That being said, there was still plenty of room in the spirit realm for the little guys too!

Although they weren’t inducted as ancestral spirits, there were three further divisions of spirits that could be called upon in times of need: the white spirits of nobles from the clan; the black spirits of commoners; and the evil spirits of slaves and non-human goblins. Since delegation is as important to the spirit realm as it is to the business world, white spirits could only be called upon by white shamans and conversely black shamans were only permitted to contact black spirits. If a white shaman called on a black spirit, they would lose their right to summon white spirits, while if a black shaman dared contact a white spirit, he would be brutally punished by the black spirits.

The worshipping of these deities and spirits is primarily done at sacrificial altars known as ovoos or “magnificent shrines”. Ovoos are sacred stone heaps that are typically made from nearby rocks, wood, and strips of colourful silk. They vary in size and are often located in high places, such as at the top of mountains or within mountain passes. Each ovoo is meant to be symbolic of a deity, so there are ovoos dedicated to heavenly gods, mountain gods, gods of nature, ancestral spirits, and any otherworldly entity you could think of! Slaughtered animals, incense sticks, and libations all serve as worthy sacrifices when one is worshipping at an ovoo.

Mongolian ovoo 05If a Mongolian person happens to pass by an ovoo while traveling, it is customary to stop and circle the ovoo three times in a clockwise direction, as it is believed this will protect them during their journey. After that, they will usually pick rocks up from the ground and add them to the pile. In some cases, they might even leave offerings in the form of candy, money, milk, or alcohol. As modernity has crept in, these traditions have had to change, and it is now considered acceptable to honk your horn while passing an ovoo if you don’t have time to stop.

At the end of summer, ovoos become the site of Heaven worship ceremonies, where people gather to make offerings to Tenger. They first place a tree branch or stick into the ovoo and tie a blue ceremonial silk scarf to it, known as a khadag. This scarf is meant to symbolise the blueness of the open sky and Tenger himself, who is regarded as the sky spirit. They then light a fire and make offerings of food before taking part in ceremonial dances and prayers. Food left over from the offering ceremony becomes part of a lavish feast that is shared by all of the participants. After all, maintaining that religious fervour must really work up an appetite!

 

 

[1] Shamanism: The practice of attempting to reach altered states of consciousness in order to communicate with the spirit world and channel energy from it into the real world. This can only be done by specialist practitioners known as shaman.

[2] Animism: The belief that all non-human entities, including animals, plants, and even inanimate objects, possess a spiritual essence or soul.

The Mongolian Ovoo

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Along the long and winding country roads of Inner Mongolia, strange mounds loom at the roadside, bedecked with colourful prayer flags and piled high with smooth stones. Known as ovoos or “magnificent shrines”, these sacred heaps are typically fashioned from nearby rocks, wood, and strips of colourful silk. In areas where rocks are too few, they can even be made from soil, sand, or tree branches. They vary in size and are often located in high places, such as at the top of mountains or within mountain passes. According to traditional Mongolian shamanism[1], each ovoo is meant to be symbolic of a deity, so there are ovoos dedicated to heavenly gods, mountain gods, gods of nature, ancestral spirits, and any otherworldly entity you could think of!

Slaughtered animals, incense sticks, and libations all serve as worthy sacrifices when one is worshipping at an ovoo. If a Mongolian person happens to pass by an ovoo while traveling, it is customary to stop and circle the ovoo three times in a clockwise direction, as it is believed this will protect them during their journey. After that, it is customary to pick rocks up from the ground and add them to the pile as an offering. Anyone who is specifically seeking a blessing from the gods will leave finer gifts in the form of candy, money, milk, or alcohol.

ovoo 01In fact, leaving an offering is such an integral part of the tradition surrounding ovoos that you’ll often find a variety of miscellaneous items underneath them, including old steering wheel covers, wooden crutches, empty liquor bottles, and even horses’ skulls! As modernity has crept in, these traditions have had to change, and it is now considered acceptable to honk your horn while passing an ovoo if you don’t have time to stop. While ovoos dedicated to the rich pantheon of deities in Mongolian shamanism tend to be for public use, those built for ancestral gods or village gods are often private shrines for a specific clan or shared by a certain village, banner, or league.

At the end of summer, ovoos become the site of Heaven worship ceremonies, where people gather to make offerings to Tenger, the God of Heaven according to Mongolian shamanism. They first place a tree branch or stick into the ovoo and tie a blue ceremonial silk scarf to it, known as a khadag. This scarf is meant to symbolise the blueness of the open sky and Tenger himself, who is regarded as the sky spirit. They then light a fire, burn incense, and make offerings of food before taking part in ceremonial dances and prayers. Food left over from the offering ceremony becomes part of a lavish feast that is shared by all of the participants. After all, maintaining that religious fervour must really work up an appetite!

 

[1] Shamanism: The practice of attempting to reach altered states of consciousness in order to communicate with the spirit world and channel energy from it into the real world. This can only be done by specialist practitioners known as shaman.

The Mongol Ethnic Minority

mongols 01

You might be surprised to find that Mongols, or Mongolians, are classified as one of the 55 recognised ethnic minorities in China. Yet there are approximately 6 million ethnic Mongols living in the country, nearly twice the population of Mongolia itself! While constituencies of Mongols are scattered throughout the northeastern provinces, the largest concentration can be found in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. That being said, what precisely defines the Mongol ethnicity is a subject that is under heated debate!

A Mongol is a member of an ethnographic group made up of a number of tribal peoples, who roughly share the same social structure, economy, culture, and language. Generally speaking, they are descended from nomadic pastoralists who lived on the steppes of Central Asia, were notoriously excellent horsemen, and travelled with their herds over vast grasslands. Frequent wars, tribal disagreements, and migrations caused a widespread diaspora, meaning communities of Mongols can be found throughout Central Asia.

Nowadays they can be roughly classed into a myriad of sub-groups, including: the Khalkha, the Dorbet, the Olöt, the Torgut, the Buzawa, the Chahar, the Urat, the Karchin, the Ordos Mongols, the Bargut, the Daur Mongols, the Monguors, and the Buryat. In spite of their shared ethnicity, each of these sub-groups has their own distinctive traits and customs. In China, even the Tuvan people are classed under the Mongol ethnicity, although their culture is considered to be wildly different from most Mongols.

Historically, the ancestors of the Mongols were small nomadic tribes, such as the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, and the Donghu, who roamed the regions surrounding the Argun River sometime between the 5th and 3rd century BC. They remained largely separate until the beginning of the 13th century, when an enigmatic warrior loomed on the horizon and threatened to irrevocably change the course of history.

In 1206, this powerful and persuasive clan leader called on all of the other clan leaders in the region to gather at a specific location along the Orkhon River in order to hold an assembly known as a kurultai. At this assembly, he persuaded his rivals to not only form an alliance and unite their separate territories, but to make him their ruler. His name was Genghis Khan. From then onwards, these tribal peoples were known as the Mongols and the Mongol Empire was born. With the formidable Genghis Khan at its helm, it grew to become the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Even after the Mongol Empire collapsed, his legacy would live on in his grandson, Kublai Khan, who conquered the entirety of China and established the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

It was the creation of the Mongol Empire that largely facilitated commercial and cultural exchange between China, Central Asia, West Asia, and Europe, while the Mongols openness to other cultures during the Yuan Dynasty led to an era of religious freedom where Tibetan Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity were all allowed to flourish in China. Alongside the Manchu, the Mongols were the only non-Han Chinese ethnic group to have taken control of China proper. As such, their contributions to Chinese history, culture, literature, language, medicine, and astronomy have been invaluable.

From bright white gers glittering like pearls on the grasslands to the strange and haunting sounds of Khöömei or Mongolian “throat-singing”, their unusual lifestyle has been a source of fascination for centuries. Time may have passed, but they have remained much unchanged: formidable on horseback, deftly accurate with a bow, fearsome in their wrestling attire, and unparalleled in their toughness.

Read more about Mongol Ethnic Minority:

Mongolian Spirituality       Mongolian Ovoo

The Traditional Dress of Hui Ethnic Minority

Like many facets of their culture, the traditional dress of the Hui people has been heavily influenced by their Islamic faith. The key to their outfits is to look clean, bright, and sombre, although some embellishment is allowed. The men wear small black or white caps without brims, and these hats can be pentagonal, hexagonal, or octagonal depending on the branch of Islam that they follow. They have a preference for double-breasted white shirts and, in some cases, white trousers and socks. Both men and women like to wear blue waistcoats and some men will wear an extra waistcoat to create a tidy, crisp contrast. In colder areas or during harsh winters, some men and women will wear fur garments made from sheepskin.

hui dressThe women’s dress, though not as elaborate as many other ethnic minorities, is rather more decorative than the men’s. They tend to wear headscarves or veils but these vary depending on their age. Young women typically wear green or coloured veils that have a golden trim and have been embroidered with elegant floral patterns. Married women will wear black veils that cover them from head to shoulder, while elderly women will wear white veils that stretch from their head all the way down their backs. They normally wear a dress that fastens at the side over a pair of trousers and, although they are usually muted in colour, younger women’s clothes may be embroidered with decorative patterns. Women of all ages liven up their outfits with gold or silver bracelets, earrings and rings because, after all, diamonds aren’t a girl’s only best friend!

The Spirituality of Uyghur Ethnic Minority

Throughout their long and illustrious history, the Uyghur people have adopted numerous religions, including shamanism[1], Tengrism[2], Manichaeism, and Buddhism. However, by the 17th century, the vast majority of Uyghurs had converted to Islam. This means that they pray in mosques, follow priests known as imams, and worship the holy book known as the Quran. They rank as the second largest Muslim group in China, directly after the Hui people. That being said, Uyghurs and Hui people rarely worship in the same mosques.

Nowadays, the majority of Uyghur people follow the Sunni branch of Islam, although there are existing conflicts between those who subscribe to the mystical tradition of Sufism and those who do not. Generally speaking, Uyghurs living in the southern regions of Xinjiang, particularly surrounding the city of Kashgar, are much more conservative. In these regions, women will most likely wear the full veil, which is uncommon in other parts of Xinjiang. In less conservative areas, many people will still drink alcohol, will not object to women working, and will allow young women to wear Western clothes.

In rural parts of Xinjiang, many shamanistic and animistic[3] traditions endure. These traditions appear to have intertwined with Islam, as shamans will chant passages of the Quran to heal the sick and people will wear amulets inscribed with Arabic script to ward off evil spirits. In Gansu province, there is a small pocket of people known as the Yugurs or “Yellow Uyghurs” who still practice Tibetan Buddhism. It is thought that they share a common ancestry with the Uyghur people, although they are a distinctly different ethnic group.

 

 

[1] Shamanism: The practice of attempting to reach altered states of consciousness in order to communicate with the spirit world and channel energy from it into the real world. This can only be done by specialist practitioners known as shaman.

[2] Tengrism: This is a Central Asian polytheistic religion that incorporates features of shamanism, animism, totemism, and ancestor worship. The religion is founded on the belief that the meaning of life is to live in harmony with the natural world. Historically, it was of great significance to the Turks, the Mongols, and the Hungarians.

[3] Animism: The belief that all non-human entities, including animals, plants, and even inanimate objects, possess a spiritual essence or soul.

 

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Miao Spiritual Beliefs

miao Spiritual BeliefsSpiritually speaking, the Miao people are great believers in animism and shamanism. Animism is the spiritual belief that non-human entities, such as animals, plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomena, possess a spiritual essence while shamanism is the belief that certain people, known as shamans, can interact with the spirit world in a meaningful way. Some villages will have shamans whose main purpose is to exorcise evil spirits or recall the soul of a sick person. The Miao also practice ancestor worship and believe in a wide variety of spirits. Animal sacrifice is also widespread throughout many Miao communities.

 

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Miao Customs

Receiving Guests

miao minoroty 01Etiquette is incredibly important to the Miao people and certain customs must be adhered to, particularly when it comes to welcoming guests. Guests who have travelled a long way are given what is called “horn spirit”, which is a locally distilled alcoholic spirit that is specifically reserved for special occasions. If you visit any of the larger Miao villages, such as Xijiang, during national holidays or festivals, then you’ll be treated to this ceremony and be invited to try the “horn spirit”. Traditionally Miao people will receive any esteemed guest by slaughtering one of their chickens for the guest to eat. This is followed by a custom known as the poultry ceremony.

In this ceremony, a chicken is killed, cooked and distributed in a specific way. The head is given to the eldest person in attendance and the leg is given to the youngest. The heart is then presented to the guest of honour by a senior member of the host family, who holds it delicately in their chopsticks. The guest must then share the heart with the person who presented it to them. This gesture illustrates how many of the Miao customs have been developed with the aim of bringing Miao communities and clans together. It is important to note that, unlike in Han Chinese culture, it is considered very insulting to overeat in a Miao household if you are a guest. It is better to excuse yourself from eating when you are full, rather than trying to eat too much.

Family Reunions

When a married woman returns to her parent’s home to visit or when other family members come to visit, they will carry a chicken, about 2 to 3 litres of glutinous rice, a large piece of salted or fresh meat and a fish. These gifts are often simply referred to as a “mixed bundle”. When the guests arrive, the host family will call upon all of the cousins, paternal family members and members of the village to unwrap the bundle. They will all drink liquor and have dinner together. The dinner will be made up of the delicacies that the guests have brought and the glutinous rice will be shared with all of the members of the village.

miao dinnerOn the second day through to the third or fourth day, the families who shared the food that the guests brought should in turn invite the guests to their house to eat. The guests will normally visit between four to five families per day, but will always have dinner at the host’s house. This custom is called “disturbing the village” and has been practised since ancient times. It is an important ritual for improving bonds between distant members of the family.

When the guests leave, the host family and anyone who shared the food they had brought should send gifts to them. After the guests have left, the host family will leave their door open until the guests are long gone, in order to show the guests that they are always welcome to come again. As the guests leave the village, the host will see them off. Traditionally the host must lead them along the main road instead of a smaller path, which symbolically means they are wishing their guests a safe journey home. When a guest of significant importance leaves, all of the paternal family members and villagers will see them off. The women will adorn their shoulders with colourful cloths to express good will and the guest should wear these cloths until they get home out of politeness. The women will then propose toasts to the guest and sing what are called “flying songs”, or seeing off songs, loudly and clearly. The guest will then respond with their own song before departing.

 

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