Follow petcha on Twitter
Amazon Associate

If you see books or music or tools on this site that you would like to buy through Amazon, click here and thus i have seen will get a small percentage of the purchase price of the item. Thank you. 

The Elements of Typographic Style

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

North Face Base Camp Duffel (Medium)




Entries in Miao (48)



Miao still life from the village of Wudong in Guizhou, China (2010). 


Steep Slope, Slippery Path

Older Miao man in Xijiang, Guizhou slowly walking down a steep sidewalk with his cane.  The wooden sign above his head summarizes quite well the current situation in this community. It is indeed a steep slope and a slippery path to maintain cultural identity while trying to maximize the economic returns and touristic potential of the traditional dress, music, and dance of your Miao ethnicity. [NOTE: It starts by putting up signs in English...].



A lot of different types of people are drawn to the Miao community of Xijiang in Guizhou (see Xijiang Landscape, Road to Xijiang). Some people come to see the elaborate costumes and beautiful dances; others come to count tree rings (see Counting the Rings) and study traditional patterns of resource use (see Fields of Gold).  A final group, perhaps the most attentive of all, come to sketch the local people, the houses (see above) and the landscapes.  


Counting the Rings (From The Archive)

Mark Ashton (left), Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture at Yale, and Yang Chenghua (right), botanist at the Guizhou Forestry Academy, count the rings on a large cross section of Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook to estimate its age and growth rate.  This valuable timber species, known locally as "shamu", is used by the Miao to build their houses (see Miao Still Life) and it is widely planted and managed in local forests. We spent the day in the drizzling rain running inventory transects in the forests outside of Wudong to quantify the density and size-class structure of Cunninghamia trees. We got soaked - but we finished 2,000 m² of transects. A good day.

[NOTE: I post this again because I am teaching Introduction to Indigenous Silviculture: Ecology, Livelihoods, and Policy at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies this semester and I see Mark every Monday. We reminisce about counting rings in southwestern China - among other things]. 


Miao Kids

My first impression of a village is usually formed by my interactions with local children. They are invariably the first ones that come forward to engage with and shyly giggle at "the strange visitor". And I invariably take their picture. The following shots were taken in the village of Wudong (see Nice Backyard, Miao Still Life, and Carpenters). [NOTE: The last little guy wasn't so sure about the camera. Love the red boots].


Roof Tiles

They say it takes about 30,000 clay tiles to roof a Miao house (see Roof Aesthetics). And these are carried about 40 tiles at a time to the construction site. [NOTE: Several dozen clay roof tiles are very heavy].



The Miao grow corn for their animals. After harvesting, they hang it up to dry in a number of different artistic ways (see Miao Still Life), and then bring it into the house where it is stored in baskets (again, artistically) until needed for cooking pig food. [NOTE: This shot was taken in the living room of one of the houses where we did interviews in Xijiang].


The Web at Wudong

This magnificent spider web is on the gate, just before the bridge, at the main entrance to the Miao village of Wudong. People walk by it all day long, glancing up, then continuing on their way. No one bothers it. Nice metaphor for Wudong. A web of complex interactions, cultural norms, and government policies woven carefully together into something very beautiful. 


Forests and Fields of the Miao

A magical landscape. Golden rice fields, fruit trees, community forests, and tended stands of Cunninghamia lanceolata. Clouds roll into the valley. [NOTE: This landscape has been settled by the Miao for 1,000's of years]. 


Road to Xijiang

On traveling in southeastern Guizhou:

"Obliquely implanted, the tapering mountain summits are strangely shaped and placed;
Hanging in balance, the precipice walls form multiple fortress gates.
Disordered pine trees hug the slopes, as the first rain clears away;
Before the old postal relay doors, fog makes the hour seem late.
Lightning strikes on the tops of the crags, pouring down hundreds of streams; 
The blue-green confusions of sunken depressions are filled with millenial trees

-Jing Daomo, et al.
Guizhu Tongzhi (Comprehensive Gazetteer of Guizhou), 1741 C.E.

The road from Leishan to Xijiang through the morning fog (shown above) is not trivial.