"People Of The Ten Suns"

Yung's eyes filled with tears, as she related the details from the phone call she had received late in the evening. Her 86 year old grandmother had passed away suddenly in her sleep. Grandparents are very special to the Chinese, as the children are usually brought up by them while the parents travel to other parts of China to work. She informed me that she would be leaving later in the day to handle all of the arrangements, and would no longer be able to continue as my guide. She had informed the agency, of her situation and they were actively searching for someone to replace her. Dylan-Gu teaches " Minority Culture of the Miao" part-time at the college in Kaili and was actively being recruited to be my guide for the duration of my travels through Guizhou Province. Dylan was a native Miao speaker and could converse in the different Miao dialects. He had a fondness for a 17-year-old Gejia girl named Yu Xiaoying and would try and make arrangements for me to meet her family and photograph her.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                                 "Yu Xiaoying waiting at the window"

Classified as a subgroup of the Miao. Very little is really known about the Gejia apart from the fact that they specialize in batik, their colourful clothing is worn daily, as well as special attire for festivals. The Ge, a Hmong subgroup, is in the People's Republic of China, officially defined as part of the Miao people...however, the Ge do not accept to be classified as Miao and have asked the authorities to recognize them as a separate minority.

Dylan had told me that there are at least two theories about the history of the Ge, one being that due to their tradition of learning martial arts, or Wushu, their unique costumes resemble the style and design that ancient Chinese generals once wore. Their dyed handkerchiefs look like a general’s helmet; their outer coat like armor; and the silverware on their bodies take the forms of a sword, knife, and hammer.

The other theory, according to Chinese mythology, is that they believe in "Hou Yi", the God of Archery, who is said to have shot down nine of the ten suns that were burning up the earth in prehistoric times.

The Gejia women’s headwear is fashioned after the scene “Hou Yi Shooting the Sun”. It consists of a silver circle, red trim, and silver hairpin. Looked down upon from above, it resembles a sun that dashes out thousands of rays, with the silver hairpin mimicking Hou Yi's arrow and the silver circle Hou Yi's bow.

It was raining as we arrived; Yu's mother was concerned that the silver on her costume was not polished enough for me to take photographs of her. I was worried about the amount of rain and mud we may encounter, and the effect it would have on her new black shoes. Dylan meanwhile was very nervous; he told me that he was trying to sum up the courage to ask Yu's mother about dating her daughter! 

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                                              "Laughing in the rain"
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                         "Reflection"                                                                                                    "Polished Silver"
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

                                                                                 "Echinacea in bloom"

Gejia girl and echinaciaGejia girl and echinaciaThe Ge language - which has six tones - is a member of the Western Hmongic branch, similar to some Miao varieties spoken in Yunnan.



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