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Weekly Photo Challenge — Saturation; China’s Colorful Ethnic Minorities

Mystique saturates, gluts the air,
Adventure’s even more than rare. ”

Mariecor Ruediger

LONG-HAIRED LADY
LONG-HAIRED YAO LADY

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.

DAILY WRAPPER
THAT’S A WRAP

“Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.”

Margaret Bourke-White

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.

STRONG SHOULDERS
STRONG SHOULDERS

“Strange how one person can saturate a room with vitality.

John Steinbeck

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.

TIBETAN SHEPARDESS
TIBETAN SHEPHERDESS

“Silence: my response to both emptiness and saturation.

Ariel Gore

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 🙂 

TWO BAI TWO
TWO BAI TWO

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.

YOUNG BAI LADIES
YOUNG BAI LADIES

“The sun rose, the moon saturated the night sky with its silver light and the stars blazed, indifferent to the events happening below.”

Victoria Hilsop

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.

HEAVY BURDEN
HEAVY BURDEN

“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:

HAPPY HELMSWOMAN
HAN HELMS-WOMAN
YI HORSEWOMAN
YI HORSEWOMAN
ZHUANG WITH BASKETS
3 ZHUANG LADIES WITH BASKETS
TIBETAN BARLEY HARVESTER
TIBETAN BARLEY HARVESTER
MARKET DAY
SENIOR BAI ON MARKET DAY
HARD DAY'S WORK
HARD DAY EVERY DAY
COMMUNITY
BIG COMMUNITY, SMALL CHAIRS
BLUE ON BLUE
BLUE ON BLUE
STILL SMILING
STILL SMILING
RED HAT
PINK HAT
ARMED WITH SCYTHE
SCYTHE IN HAND
LONG ROAD HOME
LONG ROAD HOME

“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.

 

 

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151 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge — Saturation; China’s Colorful Ethnic Minorities Leave a comment

  1. 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?

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

      • 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”

  5. 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 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.

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. 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

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. 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.

    Best wishes!
    Rusha Sams
    Oh, the Places We See

    • 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!

      Sent from my iPhone

  8. 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.

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