Long-hair village: Yao minority in Huangluo

The Yao village in Huangluo is one of China's minority villages, which number at least in the handful with regard to ethnicity, and in a country this large there are probably dozens if not hundreds.

The women villagers in Huangluo are famous for their long hair. They cut their hair only once in their lifetime, when they are married, and after that it is never cut again, nor is it ever washed with anything except rice water (i.e. the water used to wash rice). No shampoo, no conditioner, no trips to the salon to clip split ends. When their hair is cut for the only time in their lives; usually around age 18, I think; the hair is already quite long. This hair is saved and used as an accessory, the women styling it along with the hair that grows back.

What started as tradition has turned into necessity: Without the tourist income associated with visitors interested in the long-haired women, it would probably be difficult for these villagers to survive, and certainly impossible to survive at the level they enjoy today.

The women typically keep their hair tied into buns, offering to let it down for a few yuan.

Taken from the suspension bridge at the entrance to Huangluo Yao Village. The village itself is to the left, not to the right where you see buildings on the other side of the river.

Huangluo Yao women in traditional costumes dancing with long locks of hair.

Huangluo Yao Village children.

Village men killing time: people-watching, smoking cigarettes, resting their eyes.

The villager in charge of checking tickets for the Huangluo Yao Village Long-Haired Women show, where they sing, dance, and perform traditional marriage ceremonies.

Huangluo Yao Village family.

One of the village women took this photo for me during the traditional wedding ceremony, during which I got married to the woman on my back. This was the conclusion of ceremonies that included singing, dancing, drinking, and a few more unique customs.