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(A group of Miao who call themselves A-hmao and known by their costume as Hua Miao, Flowery Miao - possibly Big Flower Miao - and, by the Chinese, North East Yunnan Miao.  They are found  in central and north east Yunnan and in the north west of Guizhou.)

I was searching the web for 'Miao' material and found a site detailing the songs and traditions of the A-hmao Miao collected and translated by Rev Keith Parsons, a missionary, who, with his twin, was born in S W China in 1916 to missionary parents who went to China in 1903/5 as missionaries for the Methodist Church.  They were colleagues and successors of Rev. Samuel Pollard working among the Hua Miao people as they were then known.  

The archive of material - which is hosted on the University of Southampton web site (http://www.archives.ecs.soton.ac.uk/miao/songs/index.html)- is fascinating in its own right but it was especially exciting for me since, looking closely at the thumbnail photo shown of A-hmao girls, I realised that they were wearing a costume very similar to that of a Miao group found in the village of Xian Ma, Hou Chang township in the north west of Puding county, Guizhou Province, South West China which I had visited in October 2000.  

The leader of our group, Gina Corrigan, who has been visiting China regularly since 1973 and has developed a special interest in researching and collecting Miao textiles, referred to the Han Chinese name for the group - as Big Flower Miao.  She said that the style of dress was very similar to those in Weining County in North West Guizou and that the group living in Xian Ma must originally have migrated from the Weining area.  We were able to find out considerable detail about the group's textile techniques since one of the women to whom we spoke had been taught by missionaries and spoke excellent Mandarin.  Her responses was thus clearly understood by our Chinese guide when he asked our many detailed textile technique questions.  Our guide also mentioned having brought an American group to Xian Ma village and that the Americans and the Big Flower Miao were able to sing hymns each in their own language to common tunes top

all text and images © Pamela A Cross

Jpeg 39K Young Big Flower Miao girls in their festival finery - Xian Ma village, Hou Chang township, Puding county, Guizhou province 0010x11.jpg

Jpeg 64K Big Flower Miao stitch resist indigo dyed skirt - Xian Ma village, Hou Chang township, Puding county, Guizhou province 0010y04.jpg

Big Flower Miao in Xian Ma village, Guizhou province (click to go to photo  gallery) 

The women in Xian Ma were wearing two different kinds of skirts - natural hemp or ramie dyed in indigo with either a wax resist (the photo to the left) or a stitch resist (the photo to the right).  The stitch resist dyed skirts looked much darker with a more overall blue hue.  Note that the A-hmao girls shown in the photo below are wearing two different types of skirts and it looks very much as if the difference could be that of wax versus stitch resist.

 A-hmao or Hua Miao, Flowery Miao

referred to in "Traditional Songs and Stories of the Hua Miao of South West China" by R. Keith Parsons in  which he mentions in his introduction beginning his collection at the Methodist Mission in Weining, in the north west of Guizhou Province

Included on the A-hmao web site is a map of S W China.  It is mentioned that the Rev Parsons and his brother were born in Zhaotong (Yunnan) - pretty much in the centre of the map.  Weining (Guizhou) is to the  south east of Zhaotong.  Continuing southeastwards from Weining along the river valley shown on the map, leads to the Puding area of Guizhou Province, where Xian Ma is located.  Puding is not identified on the map but it is almost due west of Anshun over the mountains and in the river valley.  From Weining the current mainroad via Liupanshui takes advantage of river valleys which would have provided a natural migration route for the A-hmao from Weining to Puding.  top

Do visit the Traditional Songs and Stories of the Hua Miao of South West China website where the introductory pages provide a fascinating outline of the A-hmao people and the collection of their songs and cultural background. (Background Introduction on the A-hmao copied to this web)

Using material supplied by Keith Parsons, the A-hmao archive has been created and is maintained by Dr Steve Rake. If you have any comments, observations or suggestions for improvement please contact him on: str@ecs.soton.ac.uk

If you have any comments or further information on these or other groups of people, their migration or textiles which are featured on this web site please contribute to Forum of information on minority textiles of South East Asia

Click to go to photo  gallery of Big Flower Miao in Xian Ma village, Guizhou province 

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Copyright © 2012 Pamela A Cross. The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only and may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Pamela A Cross.
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this page last updated 2 January, 2004