Even though the world is becoming ever more globalized and the boundaries between countries have become uncertain, there are still small societies in some distant geographies who have managed to maintain their own traditional lifestyle. Tribes that live far from cities, have limited transport, and generally make a living by agriculture and livestock farming continue to pass their traditions that date back centuries from generation to generation with great discipline. The Yao people that have become famous worldwide for the incredible hairstyles of their women are one among such communities.
According to official records, the People’s Republic of China, where 55 ethnic groups live, recognizes the Yao people as a minority group. The Yao people live mainly in the southern regions of China and Vietnam, and have a population of more than 3 million. A secluded village welcomes visitors to discover the lifestyles and traditions of this society that today has dispersed to different states, and has managed to maintain its original culture for centuries: Huangluo, a village consisting of 60 houses in Guilin, a city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The reputation of the hair of the Yao women living in the Huangluo village in the center of the paddy fields of Longji, one of China’s most important rice repositories, leaves both the natural beauty of the region and the authentic costumes of its habitants in the shade. In this village, the women only cut their hair once in their lifetime, when they reach the age of marriage. The average length of the hair of Yao women, who were the source of inspiration for the leading character of the Grimm Brothers’ story Rapunzel, varies between 1.5 and 1.7 meters. And these women certainly don’t appear to be willing to sacrifice their hair that is neither easy to care for or to handle. Long hair is not the only thing the Yao people carry with pride; they are also proud of their traditions that they embrace as the inheritance of their ancestors.