china – sister’s meals festival



The Sisters’ Meals festival is celebrated by the Miao people in southwest China’s Guizhou province, especially in the Taijiang and Jianhe Counties along the banks of the Qingshui River


A few days before the Sisters’ Meals Festival, Miao girls collect special wild flowers and leaves in the mountains to produce natural color to dye the glutinous rice, known as “sisters’ rice”. The rice is dyed blue, pink, yellow, and white to represent spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively.

csm2-10The rice is dyed blue, pink, yellow, and white to represent spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively

At festival time, the Miao girls, all dressed up in their startling silver headdresses, crowns, neck rinks, and chest locks, gather together by the river bank to prepare their “sisters’ rice”.


When the young men arrive they begin to single out the women they hope to marry someday and begin to sing for them.


The young women respond to their songs by giving them a drink of rice wine and the sisters’ rice wrapped in handkerchiefs with different symbols on them. A pair of red chopsticks means “I love you too”; one chopstick means, “no, thank you”; a garlic or red chili indicates a flat refusal; and pine needles indicate that the boy should present silks and colorful threads and that she will wait for him.


Some sharp-witted girls will hide some keepsakes such as pine needles, bamboo hooks, live chickens or ducks, Toona sinensis, capsicum, garlic in the bamboo basket or handkerchief to convey their affection




Today, besides dating lovers, Sister Festival also provides a good opportunity for local Miao people to show their charms and communicate with one another. The most popular event during the festival is playing drum dance, which is a collective dance with drumbeats.


Women wear magnificent apparels and gather together to play the dance. The most formally dressed are unmarried young girls and newly wed brides. They wear sophisticated and splendid silver apparels that weigh 10 to 15 kilograms. The silver apparel is the top-level festive apparel for Miao women. They wear them only at weddings or when they go back to their own parents’ homes.

Also in anticipation of the Sisters’ Rice Festival, the grandmothers, mothers and other female relatives polish and shine the collection of silver neck rings, bracelets, anklets, earrings, hair pins and combs, rings and pendants, phoenix crowns and headpieces that the young courting-age girls will wear.


Dazzling embroidered skirts, blouses, aprons and jackets are decorated with many different tooled silver ornaments.


Pretty necks are encircled with bands of silver and linking silver chains that support large shining lockets, glittering beads and hanging tassels. Elaborate silver headpieces crown the heads of the girls as they proudly display their self-made costumes

The Miao believe that silver, representing light, dispels evil spirits. Silver is also a symbol of wealth and beauty, and some young women wear several kilograms of it at one time



april 5, 2012

The Festival held annually on the 15th day of the third lunar month. It is the most beautiful festival I’ve ever seen though looks like a parade


very crowded with locals and tourists



also kids


and babies

and grandfather

and…    photographers


all photos taken by me and property of ani krisnamurti

pics taken in 2012

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