Basha is a very special and old Miao Ethnic village and is virtually untouched in any way by modernization. Basha residents still live in their wooden houses, practice centuries-old customs and have their own unique beliefs. The village is perched on a hill, 5 kilometers from Congjiang. Legends say that Basha's ancestors immigrated from heartland China to this isolated mountainous region over 2,000 years ago.
The village has a multitude of Diaojiaolou (a traditional Miao structure built on wooden stakes). When seen from afar, the village consists of layer upon layer of moss covered bark roofs.Scattered around the villages' open spaces and hillside is another wooden structure commonly called "rafts". They are used to dry un-husked rice.
Welcome Ceremony with Guns
There are over 1, 000 residents and more than 400 households living in the Basha Village. The ancestors of Miao were frontline troops to charge the forests and fought with the bears on the mountain -- all to guard the land where they lived. They have been guarding protecting their homeland for over hundreds of years. Still today the men in Basha preserve their musketeer heritage, which makes Basha the only tribe that can carry real guns legally in China.
A strong sense of precaution inherited from their ancestors keeps this village isolated from the outside world. The villagers lead a self-sufficient life in the hilly areas and retain the dressing and living customs hundreds of years ago. Visitors to Basha frequently are greeted outside the village in the traditional manner by a group of the Basha men carrying weapons of long rifles. Please don't be frightened!! They are the locals practicing a traditional welcoming ceremony.
Like men of the Imperial Dynasties, most Basha men-folk still wear their hair long. As little children, Basha boys, like girls, have to keep their hair until they are 16 years old. The Adult Ceremony is when the boy becoming a man is held and the boys are allowed to decide whether to keep their long hair or not. The Adult ceremony is held to have a young man's head shaved or to keep his hair which is twisted and coiled atop the head.
Young boys between the ages of seven and sixteen have to participate in a hair shaving ceremony. The tribe leader wets a sickle with the water used to boil eggs, and shaves off all of the boy's hair except for the top part and is coiled into a bun. The blade scrapes the scalp lightly and patches of hair fall to the ground. This hair shaving is done without any shaving cream, or even a rinse. Boys get their first haircuts as a custom, and to sign they have already become adults, rifles are given to them to proof they have the ability to hunt the wild animal.
Around the Basha Village, there are many large tall trees. Like many other tribes, Basha people see the trees as their sacred totem while the other takes an animal or material as their totem. On important occasions or some traditional festivals, villagers usually burn incense under big ancient trees to pray for health and happiness. A tree is planted when there is a baby is born. Often it will be cut down to make a coffin for burial purposes when that person eventually dies.
People in Basha villagers worship trees as gods, especially maples. They believe the buns on their heads represent trees, while the purple clothes they wear represent barks. The color of their clothes is a special bluish purple. Biasha people usually add egg whites into the indigo when dying the coarse cloth, making it shiny and waterproof. In Basha, a tree is planted whenever a baby is born. Often it will be cut down to make the coffin when the person eventually dies. Cutting down ancient trees is forbidden in the village.
Unique Dress Code
People in Basha maintain their unique code of dress dating back to the Qin Dynasty. Basha men usually wear a collarless coat with buttons on the left side or down the front with baggy short trousers. Basha men don't usually wear shoes, even in the cold winter. However women's clothes are more colorful. A coat buttoned down the front, a kilt and more colorful wrappings are the usual make-up for women.
Basha men are also famous for their unique hairstyles. Like the men in the Qing dynasty, Basha men wear their long hair in braids. They attach great importance to their hair bun, which they believe is a symbol of masculinity, as well as an emblem of power. This is a hairstyle that’s existed for thousands of years.
Reed-pipe Wind Dance
Reed-pipe wind is a special instrument belongs to the Miao, Yao and Dong Nationalities. Where there is Miao, there is reed-pipe wind instrument. Basha villagers worship the god of sun. Every time they get together to worship the sun, they will face to it and be back for seven steps before playing the reed-pipe wind and dancing.
The villagers will gather in a place called reed-pipe wind hall which is located on the flat of the mountainside near their village. All the important fetes will be held in this place because it is sacred. While dancing, men will hold the reed-pipe wind in their hands, play and shake their body with the rhythm of the music and women will keep the handkerchiefs dancing around the men.
The voice of the instrument sounds like clang of the sword and knife and the horn of charging forward and the rhythm of women’s dancing is in a fast pace. They spin and jump like the tiger rushing down the mountain.