The Yao Village is also called the “Long Hair Village”. Women here prize their hair, growing it on average to 1.7 meters long (the Guinness world record holder of the village grew her raven locks to more than 2.1 meters). Yao women believe the length of their hair will bring them long life, wealth and great fortune.
Women in the village are allowed to cut their hair once in their lifetime, at 16, and then begin their courtship phase. At this crossing to womanhood, the girl’s cut hair is handed over to her grandmother for safekeeping. It is made into an ornamental headpiece and given to her husband at the time of marriage. After marriage, the husband returns the girl’s hair for her to use as part of her everyday hairstyling. The elaborate up-do’s of the Yao women are made up of their current hair, the headpiece and fallen hairs that are collected each day. These hairstyles are symbolic of their social status in the village.
These extraordinary women greeted us with such warmth. We learned how to weave in the traditional Yao way and enjoyed a beautiful live performance.