Sources claim that there are approximately 2.5 million Yao. They live in Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. The Yao women in the village we visited wear red embroidered dresses and have unusually long, black hair. There are 60 women in the village whose hair is more than 3 feet long and one whose hair is seven feet. We did not see any gray or white hair and the women claim that washing their hair with rice water (the water that is drained after cooking rice), keeps their hair long, shiny and black through old age.
The women's hair is cut only once in their lives, during a coming of age ceremony, around age 18, that precedes marriage. The cutting of the hair signifies that the girl is an adult and may marry. The women keep the hair that is cut off. After marriage and childbirth, the cut hair is weaved into the bun that the women wear.
Many of the women perform in the troupe that we saw. Two of our male travelers were called onto the stage to be a part of a mock marriage ceremony. It was quite amusing to see them paraded around on-stage when they had no idea what anyone was saying. They were great sports! Come to China with Chow Fun Tours and meet the locals.