Is a village full of women with only long hair? It sounds like something from a fairy tale. But it exists! And where else could it be but an almighty China?
The Long Hair Village
In the Longji area in Gulin, China lies the village of Huangluo. In itself a very normal village, but with very special inhabitants. In Huangluo lives an ethnic group called ‘Red Yao’ and they have a wonderful tradition of long hair with women. The average hair length of the 120 women comes down to an overwhelming 1.7 meters. The longest hair measurement in the village is even 2.1 meters! No wonder the village is known throughout China as ‘the long hair village’ and has a Guinness World certificate for the world’s longest hair village.
Long life, prosperity and happiness
The reason for the long hair is simple. The superstition is that long hair brings long life, prosperity and happiness. The longer the hair, the more happiness comes on the woman’s path.
Washing with rice water
The Yao women don’t know any luxuries like shampoos and conditioners. They only wash their hair with rice water; the water that remains after washing rice. Then they let the water ferment for a week. Please watch the video at the bottom of this article to see how they do this.
From girl to woman
The tradition of long hair comes with many special rituals. A girl becomes a woman when she turns 16 in the village. Then she is allowed to cut her hair – the only time in her entire life that this is allowed – and then she is allowed to look for a man. The cut hair is then processed by her grandmother into a beautiful decorative hairpiece. When a woman marries it is donated to the groom and from that moment on it becomes part of the woman’s daily haircut.
The hairstyle of the Yao woman
It seems that a Yao woman’s hairstyle consists of three parts: her normal hair, the hairpiece and the last part consist of fallen hairs that are collected every day. No hair is lost in this village. Each social status comes with a different haircut:
- Is the woman wearing a cloth around her head? Then she is looking for a man
- Is the hair simply rolled up on her head? Then the woman is married without children
- Does she have a little bun in the front? Then the woman is married to children
Nowadays we can freely enjoy the beautiful hair of the women in this village. But if you saw the woman’s loose hair before 1987, you had a big problem as a man. Until then, this privilege only had her husband and children. Every other man who saw it had to live with the parents of the woman for 3 years as a son-in-law.
Until then, the women would wash their hair by the river every summer and autumn, hiding their hair under a blue scarf. Now the women are free to show and comb their hair with pride in public.