Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Andrey Kovalenko | Yao Women

Photo © Andrey Kovalenko- All Rights Reserved-Courtesy Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera features non-news photo essays on its In Pictures web site, and these occasionally are of ethnic minorities that are rarely showcased on other similar mass media blogs.

This time it's a photo essay by photographer Andrey Kovalenko of ethnic Yao who live in Huangluo village. Virtually unreachable until 10 years ago, a tourism reform 
brought development, and attracted visitors to it.

The Yao women are well known for colorful traditional dresses decorated with bright embroidery. They use wooden looms to weave their clothes, and it can take up to three months to finish a traditional costume. Traditionally, the women leave their dark hair to grow as long as they can; some reaching almost 6 feet in length. They only cut their hair once during their lifetime between the ages of 16 and 18, believing that long hair is the symbol of long life and prosperity. 

In addition to China, Yao also live in northern Vietnam (where they are called Dao, pronounced Zao), northern Laos, and Burma. In China, Yao peoples are distributed primarily in the provinces Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan.