Spanish Bullfight? No! Miao Hmong Bullfight!

Miao festival The Miao ethnic people are primarily engaged in agriculture and regard cattle as indispensable in their daily lives. They have a special emotion to bulls and keep their admiration and worship to bulls today. They hung bull heads on the village gate and display bull heads under the shrine at home to worship. Miao people regard bulls as their parents. The Miao Hmong in Southeast Guizhou hold “Bullfight” competitions in spring and autumn.


A Myth about Miao Bullfight


There is a story among Miao Hmong villages about bullfight. Long time ago, there was an alien army attacking Miao village with their swords and shield. The king led the villages to resist but the shields were too strong for arrows to shoot through and for swords to cut down. Later, the king thought about a good idea to win the enemy. On the day to the decisive battle, he concentrated all male water buffalos with sharp knives bended their heads and fed them with rice wine. When the enemy arrived, he immediately ordered to drive all the water buffalos to fight the enemy. The crazy water buffalos strongly attacked the enemy so that the shields were all destroyed. Miao villages won the battle. However, two villages wanted to claim the merit and did not give in. The king had to order the two villages to choose a bull to fight to decide the result. Therefore, bull fight became a custom.


King Bulls


Miao festival

The bulls participate in the fight are almost 10 years old, strong and young. When Bullfight Festival comes, bull owners feed their bulls well, even give them wine in the hope that they will perform well. The festival is usually held on open meadow and Miao people are well dressed on this special occasion.

Bulls for fighting are specially raised and are titled “King Bulls” or “Holy Bulls”. Some bulls are dressed up with iron horns; they’re covered with red satin and wear pheasant tail on the back and bronze bells on the neck. Some bulls are dressed up with big silk balls, colorful ribbons and bronze bells on the waist, and a tiger tail. They look like generals ready to go out to the battle. The ceremony for bulls to enter the fighting arena is called “Stepping Ground”.


Various Kinds of Bullfight


Miao festival Miao festival There are a few kinds of bullfights. There’re two bulls fight and several bulls fight. When two bulls fight with each other, the result is usually determined within three to five minutes of fierce combat. However, it is only the last round that decides which Bull is the winner. The fight may last more than half an hour. During the fight, audiences shout loudly making the festival an exciting scene. Families and villages nearby the bullfight arena prepare feasts to entertain the coming guests and welcome the “Holy Bulls” from different villages. Red silk sashes and flowers are used to adorn the winner and with food as the reward. Bonfires are lit whilst young men play Lusheng (a reed musical instrument with five or six pipes) and girls dance for the whole night.

By holding the Bull Festival, Miao hope for a harvest in the coming year and good health.

by Xiao Xiao @

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