Miao Hmong Guzang Festival, A Living Fossil

Guzang Festival, which lasts about 7 days, takes place a little later after the Miao New Year. Guzang literally means “to bury the drum”. The Miao people believe that drums made of maple trees are the burial place of their ancestors. Therefore, this grand festival, which celebrates only every 13 years, is about burying the drum and paying homage and sacrifice to their ancestors.


Purposes of Guzang Festival


The Guzang Festival is one of the grandest festivals of the Miao Hmong ethnic tribe. It has two purposes, one of which is to commemorate the ancestors of the Miao who as pioneers has been through lots of migration and the other is to celebrate the harvests of the past year.


Legend about Guzang Festival


It is believed that the Miao people are the descendants of Chiyou, leader of Jiuli tribe living on the central and lower reaches of the Yellow river 5000 years ago in China history. At that time, the responsibilities of the tribal leader are Si and Rong. Rong means defending the tribal land, whereas Si was the lord offering sacrifices and whose task was to observe celestial phenomena. From what have been discovered from the tomb of Chiyou in Henan province and by the archaeologists, the Miao’s Guzang Festival is the ritual of the tribe alliance offering sacrifices to gods and ancestors in ancient times. The festival is regarded as a Living fossil.


Activities during Guzang Festival


The rituals are complicated and include a series of ceremonies, such as the Zhaolong (invite the dragon), the Xinggu (waken the drum), and the Yinggu (welcome the drum). After the rituals, celebrations begin, and the village becomes a joyful world of singing and dancing.

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Festivals last for three to seven days. On the first day, the elected committee in charge of the festival climbs the mountains to search for the soul of the dragon, a symbol of good luck. The shaman guides the dragon soul into a duck, which is bought specifically for this purpose. In the evening, a pig is ceremonially killed and shared among all participants during a great celebratory feast. In the past, a water buffalo would be scarified, but now pigs are killed instead. Sharing the meat symbolizes sharing in the community and the preservation of old traditions that are linked with the good fortune, prosperity and fertility of the whole village.

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During the festival, the villagers delight in eating, singing and dancing all day and all night. It is celebrated in southeast Guizhou province with areas like Leishan, Taijiang, Jianhe as well as some places around Kaili City.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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