The unique ethnic culture leads to a thriving rural tourism in China’s Guangxi

Photo shows Dazhai Village, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. (Photo from the official website of Longsheng County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)

The Longji Rice Terraces in Dazhai Village, Longji Town, Longsheng County, Guilin, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were decorated with rice fields, presenting a lively scene.

Since ancient times, Longsheng County has been known for its mountainous landscape – most of the region is mountainous, while the rest is divided in half by water and fields.

The industrious people of the Yao ethnic group level slopes into layered terraces. After the terraces were formed, they channeled water and plowed the fields to plant rice. This feat of precision agriculture gave rise to the spectacular landscape of terraced rice fields winding from the foothills of the mountains all the way to the summits.

For generations Dajai villagers have worked on the slopes, gradually transforming them into a magnificent terraced landscape resembling a stairway to heaven. With more than 1,200 people in over 290 households, the village is inhabited primarily by the Yao ethnic group, who make up 98 percent of the village’s population.

Dazhai was once among the poorest villages in Longsheng County before it began to develop tourism.

In recent years, the village has taken advantage of the picturesque terraced scenery and unique cultural customs of the Red Yao ethnic group, a branch of the Yao ethnic group, turning the once impoverished village into a famous tourist destination, said Yu Qiongtong, head of the Dazhai Village Party.

According to him, the Dajai village has been declared the best tourist villages for 2022 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Photo shows terraced fields in Dazhai Village, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. (Photo from the official website of Longsheng County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)

Early in the morning, the Red Yao women would open the windows and hang their bright clothes on drying racks and hallways. Soon the walls of every house turned into a “sea” of bright red clothes.

Red Yao suits feature a passionate red color as well as harmonious tones such as blue, black, cyan and green that blend in with the environment. These colors are cleverly combined to express the Red Yao people’s longing for a better life.

In 2014, the traditional clothing of the Yao ethnic group in Longsheng County was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage of China.

The people of the Red Yao have a special affinity for the color red, and most of them have inherited the traditional craftsmanship of weaving, dyeing and embroidery, which has been passed down to this day.

The traditional patterns of Yao ethnic clothing include geometric patterns, animal patterns, plant patterns, and landscape patterns. These diverse patterns have not only aesthetic value, but also serve as cultural symbols.

“We embroider whatever we see, like insects and flowers. It’s a way to record our lives,” said Pan Jifeng, a national representative who inherited the costume of the Yao ethnic group.

As the cultural charm of ethnic groups continues to unfold, ancient cultures are rejuvenated in the new era. The masterful craftsmanship and vivid colors of traditional Yao costumes have ignited the tourism industry in Dazhai Village.

Villagers perform a dragon dance in Dazhai Village, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Photo from the official website of Longsheng County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)

Folklore activities organized there allow visitors to not only admire the breathtaking terraced scenery, but also experience the unique customs of the Yao ethnic group. Dressed in their beautiful costumes, the Red Yao women sang joyful cheering songs and offered local sweet wine to the tourists. Today, Dazai village is bustling with tourists, with laughter and joy, full of mountains.

Extensive research, collection and documentation of local folk songs, ballads and customs has been carried out. Dazhai village is like a lively museum of Yao culture.

In addition to drying red clothes, the village also has traditional activities such as making sticky rice cakes, dancing on a bamboo pole and combing long hair. Far from the hustle and bustle of cities, Dazhai Village fully immerses visitors in the ancient culture of the Red Yao.

Dazhai village’s unique agricultural culture also attracts tourists. The 12 agricultural techniques commonly used on the Longji rice terraces represent the beautiful local agricultural culture and the protection of the terraces by the villagers, attracting many tourists to come to enjoy and experience.

“These 12 farming techniques were passed down from our ancestors who built the terraced fields. If any of them are missing, the terraced fields can be damaged. This is our traditional culture of terraced fields,” Yu said, adding that tourism development is an important way to promote the prosperity of Yao culture in Dazhai Village.

After years of development and innovation in local tourism, Dazhai village residents have become comprehensive farmers who not only do agricultural work but also participate in tourism business. As more and more tourists flocked to the village, the B&B and catering industry flourished.

There are currently over 230 households operating distinctive B&B hotels in the village. In addition, the villagers also run village inns, sell handmade crafts and perform ethnic dances, completely freeing themselves from the hard days when they relied solely on farm work for a living. This development allowed the local culture to flourish, making it known beyond the mountains.

Women in Dazhai Village, southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, dry traditional costumes of the Red Yao ethnic group. (Photo from the official website of Longsheng County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region)

(Web editor: Chang Sha, Liang Jun)

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