Identity Although they have been included as part of the Miao nationality, the Changshu Miao consider themselves to be a unique group and do not consider other Miao groups to be related to them. They generally do not marry outside of their tribe, although this custom is being relaxed in recent years as more youth are traveling to towns and cities in search for jobs. The name Changshu Miao is a Chinese word meaning "long comb" Miao. It is uncertain what this group calls itself.
History Anshun has been an important trading town in southwest China since the thirteenth century. Merchants from as far away as Burma (Myanmar) frequently came through Anshun. The Chinese described Anshun as "the throat to Yunnan and the belly of Guizhou."
Customs The Changshu Miao are a distinctively dressed group. "The women wear an ankle length nonpleated white skirt which has about four broad horizontal black bands. The shirt opens in the middle. The hair, along with false hair, is hung on a bamboo comb at least 18 inches long that sticks out horizontally from one side of the head." Every year, on the 12th, 13th, and 14th days of the first lunar month, a Miao festival called Tiao Hua Chang is held near Anshun. The people meet at an appointed festival site known as the Flower Ground. It offers a chance for relatives and friends to catch up with each other. Young girls display their finest embroidery and silver jewelry, hoping to capture the attention of a young suitor.
Religion Most Changshu Miao families are animists. They are a highly superstitious people. Probably because of their prolonged contact with the Chinese, the Changshu Miao also worship their ancestors. Every home has an ancestral altar which is the focal point of attention during festivals and religious events.
Christianity There are no known Christian believers among the Changshu Miao. It is possible that there are a small number of Catholics among them, as there are several Bouyei and Chinese Catholic churches in the vicinity. Most are adequately bilingual in the Guizhou dialect of Chinese.
Approximately 15,800 Changshu Miao live along the road between Yangliu and Geli townships in Zhenning County; and as far north as Jichang Township in Anshun County in the western part of Guizhou Province. A new highway has been constructed between Anshun and Guiyang (the provincial capital), reducing the journey to only two hours. The Changshu Miao live in the same area as people from the Bouyei, Chuanqing, and Hmong Shuad ethnic groups. (Source: Operation China, 2000)