Weekly Photo Challenge — Saturation; China’s Colorful Ethnic Minorities
“Mystique saturates, gluts the air,
Adventure’s even more than rare. ”
This week, Michele has challenged us to illustrate “Saturation”, which I’ve chosen to do through the colorful women of China’s ethnic minorities.
There are 56 different ethnic cultures in China, each of them with their own colorfully-saturated costumes and unique dialects. Although some 90% of the people are Han Chinese, the other 10% are an interesting study of preserving heritage in the face of modern challenges.
“Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.”
For example, Yao women, such as two above, cut their hair only once in their lives, at the age of 18. They keep the long, cut piece and add it to the rest of their hair, which reaches down to their feet in many cases.
“Strange how one person can saturate a room with vitality. ”
In Tibetan culture everyone participates in working the fields, whether they have children or not. The woman above shows the real meaning of “working mom”, while the one below does a fine job of shepherding the family flock.
“Silence: my response to both emptiness and saturation.”
In the Bai culture, although the young women dress very colorfully, older women choose to wear darker tones like black and purple. The lovely ladies below were happy to have their photo taken as long as I was willing to give them “editorial privileges”, and to keep shooting until they were happy with my results 🙂
Below, the more typical costumes of younger Bai. Interestingly, the position of their tassels tells whether they are married or single, and each of the colors in their hats signifies a key element of their culture.
“The sun rose, the moon saturated the night sky with its silver light and the stars blazed, indifferent to the events happening below.”
The Naxi tribeswomen have a very interesting perspective. Until about 10 years ago, their husbands would leave for 6 to 9 months to travel a very dangerous trade route on the “Tea-Horse Road”. While they were gone, the women did all of the work. Once they returned, the women were so glad they had come back safely, they continued to do the work and completely pamper their husbands. This tradition continues today, even though the Tea Horse Road is no longer in use. Naxi women do the vast majority of the work while the men live in “Male Paradise”, playing games and whiling away their hours.
“We are shaped by what we’re saturated in, which is why incarnation must always be paired with devotion.”
P. Huertz and D. Prince
Everywhere we went in China we met friendly, hard-working women, both Han and minority. Here then, a tribute to some of the beautiful female faces of China:
“The effort of the genuine spiritual seeker should be to cultivate love until the mind becomes saturated by it.”
Bhante Y. Wimala
Although all of the ethnic minorities and the Han majority speak different languages, over the centuries they have developed a “local language” which allows them to communicate with one another. In this way they preserve their unique heritage but also inter-relate successfully. Perhaps we could learn a bit from them there, no?
Thanks to Michele for her interesting challenge. To experience more Saturation, click here.
Fantastic pictures and description!
Many thanks Olivia!
Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing and stopping by my blog.
A beautiful tour through the many possibilities of “feminine.” And the last photo was the perfect parting shot.
These women, the hair, the lines on the older faces, and the strength they exhibit in the photos.
What a melting pot of ethnic cultures you can see in their looks. Interesting the two older ladies insisted on editorial privileges, we are all alike, aren’t we?
What a wonderful tribute to such beautiful women. Guess my favorites are the ‘Two Bai Two’ and ‘Han Helms Woman’. You have captured much more here than colorful garb; by photographing them going about their daily routines, you ushered us into their world. thanks
Thanks Sue, that’s such a nice compliment. Their world is so very different from ours, it was fascinating to observe and I felt privileged to document it. China is changing so quickly, I’m not sure how long their traditions can continue. Appreciate your visit and comment!
Thanks for educating me.
It was my pleasure! Thanks for visiting!
Tina, seeing your gorgeous pictures and also that you participate in the challenges, I was wondering, If I may nominate you for the Capture the color photo contest?
I am sure, lots of photographers could learn from you!
Hanel, that’s such a lovely compliment, thanks! I will give it a try, thank you.
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Thank you for joining! I will post my entry today, still waiting for the last nominee to say yes 🙂
Incredible post — a wonderful tribute to women! The first photos of the woman with long hair are spectacular.
Many thanks C&C! As for the first photo, the hair was quite simply incredible! It was like the energizer bunny—kept going and going and going 🙂
Ah, you are so lucky to have seen all this – and you really do appreciate it, that comes through clearly, in the photos and the quotes. I love that last quote. Safe travels!
I am VERY lucky, absolutely! Thanks so much for your comment BB!
Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing the cultural insights and the wonderful photos of lovely women. Wouldn’t mind being a Naxi tribesman though!
Thanks i*Kan! And you’re right, you wouldn’t mind a bit! Better hurry tho, I suspect things may be changing soon LOL!
That’s good! A lot of traditions start out with very practical reasons, appropriate to the context of the times, and then evolve into unfair practices, held on to in the name of “tradition”
Tina, this is an outstanding post, not only for the remarkable photos, but for the background you give us with each picture. I love that you have focused (so to speak) on women.
Thanks so much Naomi! I was amazed by the diversity of cultures and the incredible work ethic they universally displayed. Quite the education for me 🙂
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And for us, Tina, in the very best way.
Color color color ….everywhere! These women exude the colors they are wearing with their eyes and smiles. Just a happy note to end on for your trip!
Thanks Ginny! A happy note indeed. Sorry to end our journey, happy to be home! Life is good 🙂
Love your images of hardworking women! Smiling, thoughtful, concentrating, tired … and that hair in the first two images! Wow!
:-). Thanks LB! Wouldn’t u think with all the hard work they have to do that they’d save some time with a short haircut!!! Thanks for stopping by & for your lively comment.
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Fabulous images as ever Tina .
Such wonderful characterful women you portray at work, in dress, and with genuinely smiling or thoughtful faces . So natural .
Thanks PT! Each was different from the others but they all shared a warmth and friendliness that is rare these days. I really liked seeing them go about their business with such determination and positive attitudes
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Tina, because you have an eye for great people and places, I’ve nominated you for the Capture the Colour 2013 Photoblogging Challenge. You have great entries just waiting to be submitted, but there’s no pressure. Do what you feel you can.
Oh, the Places We See
Thanks so much Rusha, will give it a go!
Great! You have so many possible entries!
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great story of empowerment with pics
Thank you Amar! They were a great study on attitude. Went about their incredibly hard work with a smile and warm welcome of my lens!
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I love the first image. Filling the scene like this really focuses the colors in the background as well as the woman. Very well done.
Thanks Rick! Since we were doing “saturation” I thought keeping the bright scarves as background was a good fit! Appreciate your visit and comment.
I am glad that the world has so many facets, and I hope it can stay that way. A really beautiful series of beautiful people, Tina.
Many thanks Bente, me too! Appreciate your visit and comment!
Thanks for the cook’s tour. Love all the rich colors. Interesting the only male in the pictures is sitting on strong shoulders. You gave us a lot to ponder.
🙂 Thanks Kathy! Good catch on the only male!! Will do a post on some of the men later but honestly didn’t see nearly as many men as women. My pleasure on the tour!!
Tina, lovely people and colors. That woman’s hair is amazing!
Many thanks – I enjoyed them all!! And yes, her hair WAS amazing!!
These are great Tina!
Thanks Madelaine! Appreciate your visit and comment.
Wonderful portraits, Tina. You had an incredible trip!
Thanks Jane – yes it was quite the adventure! Looking forward to getting home soon.
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Hi Tina, you saturated us with new perspectives of joy … beautiful imagery of empowered women, thanks for sharing …
Many thanks ABW! Well said – these women really do have a marvelous spirit!