Living in Macau, a small Portuguese-Chinese region part of South East China—there’s just so much to see on the other side of Mainland China that makes you curious to explore even more. One of my favorite visits was in Guilin. Located in the North, visit Guangxi Province that is home to the Red Yao Tribe. They have been listed to have longest hair on Earth by the Guinness Record!
Their nickname derives from their traditional clothing that is red and black, hence “Red Yao.” To them, long hair means long life and prosperity. A Yao lady only cuts her hair once in a lifetime at the age of 18, when she officially becomes an adult. This hair is kept by her grandmother as an ornament until she is married. Once she is wed, her precious hair ornament is used whenever she does her hair up, this special hair accessory holds also hair that has been fallen. This is how much they treasure their hair!
If their hair is knotted and shown, it means they are married and have children. And a single Yao woman covers her hair until she is married, and it is only shown long to her husband—it is that sacred. You will never see them having their hair loose around the village but when you visit one of their performances, you will have the privilege to see how they (the married women) comb and do their hair up.
The performance starts with a welcoming dance where you’ll also be able to join in and celebrate with them. They will also feature ethnic songs and folk customs to highlight their meaning of traditional beauty. My favorite part was when we got to see a real life Rapunzel who was about 87 years old, a grandmother with her raven-black long hair! Not even a single white strand or trace! I was just in awe… so what is their secret?
…they wash their hair with glutinous rice water from the nearby Longsheng rice terrace. Yep, the cloudy water left from washing rice, used for their jet-black beautiful hair! Talk about staying natural! This works because the rice water is rich in B vitamins. The women don’t use any other products as shampoo or conditioner, they just saturate their hair in rice water and then rinse off with clean river water. After the show, you can help support them by purchasing their craft works such as their handmade bags that is also just a great souvenir and memory to hold onto with an exciting story to share.
We then went up hill to take in the beautiful scenery of the rice terrace, it was absolutely breathtaking, it is also know as “Dragon’s Back.” This extraordinary place would also make you reflect on what would it be like living on this side of the world and make you wonder—would want to try their 2,000-year-old ancient hair recipe?
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Photo: Bel Faustino