Friday, 28 September 2018

Michael Benford | Ancient China

Photo © Michael Benford | All Rights Reserved
China's southeastern Guizhou Province region has for centuries been home to 49 of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, including the Dong, genetically connected to the Thai and to the Lao, as well as the Miao minority, who are believed to be among the country’s first rice farmers (their villages are often 3,000 feet up). 

The region has a number of ancient villages, in which traditions have been preserved, although this may be changing due to the influx of tourists.

Michael Benford's lovely images Ancient China and its sister gallery Creatively Recharging -China introduces us very generously to the region's villages and ethnic minorities with remarkable color and monochrome images. In the latter gallery, he tells us that he finds it necessary to escape from daily routines, break out from comfort zones, and unplug from technology by exploring new countries...in his case, it was far flung provinces of China.

For those who are curious as to the locations of the villages and the ethnicities of those photographed Mr. Benford's galleries, here's what I found:

Qingman village is not far from Kaili City, the capital of Qiandongnan in Guizhou Provinc. It's described as a Miao people village with primitive simplicity. The Miao build houses along mountains and rivers in order to not occupy farmland. The village is a well-preserved Miao ethnic village, and has over 300 families with a total population exceeding 1,600.

Matang village is also an ancient village populated by the Geija, an ethnic subgroup of the Miao 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. 

The village of Zhaoxing, also in the Guizhou region, is one of the largest Dong Villages in Qiandongnan area. All the buildings in the village are wooden-stilt houses.

Michael Benford describes himslef as creative director and photographer with almost 20 years, developing innovative design and brand strategies. He currently oversees the creative direction for AMB Sports + Entertainment, which includes the Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta United (MLS) and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.