Matang village is a quaint ancient village located 18 kilometers north of Kaili City. Matang is populated with 400 members of the ethnic minority group of Gejia, a subgroup of the Miao ethnic minority. The Matang villagers are easily identifiable in the colorful clothing they wear as their daily dress code and their fancy and colorful hand-fabricated adornments. Geija girls learn the art of Batik at a very early age, and this art plays a key role in the Gejia culture.
Batik is the art of dyeing multi-colored fabric patterns by applying melted wax and wild plant dye. Geija designs are usually floral in print, but also feature iconic patterns such as Butterfly Mother Myths and patterns inspired by the Seed Corn Origin myth. Due to its their expertise, the tribe is noted as the batik expert in Kaili.
Things to Do
Matang is one of the most widely visited tourist spot in the Kaili area; not coincidentally, it is also the easiest village to access from Kaili. Currently, it is ranked as the third “must- visit” spot out of all seven major attractions in Kaili. Visitors to Matang can opt to stay overnight in wooden cottages built specifically to accommodate tourists.
The Geija tribe is genuinely friendly and hospitable, and they are most willing to teach visitors more about their local customs and their history. So while there, tourists can also participate in the regular activities of the locals to get a feel of their daily living. They can also enjoy the colorful traditional Miao festival performance where the tribe displays all their colorful costumes, silver ornaments, jewelries, embroidery, brocade, bangles and batiks.
Visitors are usually encouraged to participate in Matang’s custom stomp dance called Caiqing dance (Caiqing Wu), which is actually a romantic dance for the Matang villagers. Since Miao festival is held throughout the year, visitors will find plenty of activities to join whenever they visit. One example is the buffalo fight, which can provide tourists with a unique experience.
The local women spend most of their time making batik souvenirs, of which there are many that visitors can bring home to their loved ones after visiting the village. Tourists can shop for batik souvenirs at bargain prices such as batik jackets, coats, corset-like vest and dresses for the women, while batik suspenders are sold for men.
The tribe also produces batik curtains, quilt covers, table cloths and placemat. The village is also known for producing beautifully handcrafted silver crafts and jewelries. To add to this, the Gejia ethnic minority is also adept and skilled at embroidery, mostly flat, plaited, and crepe embroidery made from silk and cotton threads. The authentic ethnic clothing, however, is usually not sold. These are those clothes and costumes that are passed from generations to generations inside the Gejia tribe.
Gejia is also renowned from its artistic paper art, and this is another aspect of their culture that tourists can take part in.
And while there, visitors are encouraged to savor local delicacies such as the traditional chicken hotpot and the sour lemon chicken accompanied by purple rice wine and a dose of Sichuan peppers and chili.
After wandering off the village, visitors can also take a challenging hike to Matang’s Dragon Hill. The hill’s hike path is surrounded by magnificent rock formations and rice terraces. For the less adventurous ones, there’s always the village market, a bargain shop for Gejia souvenirs, such as freshly picked fruits and vegetables, pottery jars, incense, and homemade kites.