Miao Clay Whistles

David LeffmanUncategorized Leave a Comment

There are very few rural temples in southeast Guizhou. Most people here are from the Miao ethnic minority, not Han Chinese; they have their own beliefs, and don’t build the usual Daoist-Buddhist-Confucian complexes you find elsewhere in China. However, all of Guizhou’s towns began life as Chinese military outposts or trading centres, not Miao settlements, and there are a few …

Across Guangxi By Boat

David LeffmanUncategorized Leave a Comment

In March 1879, after spending nearly two years on the road between China and Europe, Mesny left the southern metropolis of Guangzhou to head home to his wife in Guizhou province, a journey of perhaps 1000km. Renting a roomy daobazi (刀把子) or “knife-handle” houseboat, named after the shape of their sterns, Mesny followed the Xi river to Wuzhou before turning …

Lockets, locks and longevity

David LeffmanUncategorized Leave a Comment

In 2018 I bought this antique child’s locket (鎖片) in Dali, an old walled caravan town in China’s Yunnan province. Today Dali has become a bohemian holiday retreat for China’s urban middle class, but from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries served as the capital of the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms, whose borders reached from Tibet to Thailand, and at …

Summoning the Dragon

David LeffmanMiao, Uncategorized 5 Comments

Summoning the Dragon (召龙节) is a male-only celebration held every twelve years at Miao villages in the Leigong Shan region of southeastern Guizhou. The ceremony is usually closed to outsiders but in March 2019 a friend managed to wrangle special permission for me to attend the event at Xiao Kaitun in Yongle county (永乐镇小开屯村) – though have to say that …

Wuyapo: the final battle of the Miao War

David LeffmanMesny, Miao War, Wuyapo Leave a Comment

The last major battle of the Miao War, in either May or June 1872, was long thought to have taken place at the top of Leigong Shan. But a battle site has never been found there, and new research (including a recently-discovered eye-witness claim) makes Wuyapo  – “Crow Slope” or “Crow Mountain”, depending on how literal you want to be – near …