Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
Officially considered part of the Miao nationality, the Southern Guiyang Miao have lived in their current location for many centuries. They share the same part of China as the Bouyei minority.
Miao legends from Laos depict the distant ancestors of the Miao as "white," with "pale skin and light hair." During intense periods of Chinese persecution, the Miao were killed because they were easy to single out. An 80-year-old Miao man in Laos, Cher Sue Vue, remembers his childhood when the Chinese crossed into Laos looking for white babies. "At that time there was only one white baby in our village. The infant's parents were warned before the Chinese arrived, and they carried him into the forest where they hid." he Miao have a legend of a homeland where "days and nights lasted six months, the water was frozen, and snow hid the ground. Only a few trees grew and they were small. The people, too, were short and squat, clothed in furs."
Strict superstitions apply to the Miao when they are eating. If someone changes his chopsticks during a meal, he can expect either a divorce or a change of spouse. If he taps something with his chopsticks, he will become a beggar. If he finishes his meal by leaving the chopsticks standing straight up in his rice, someone will die. After a meal, if he turns his bowl upside down, he is cursing the host to be barren.
The Southern Guiyang Miao believe all living things have a spirit. They seek to live in harmony with nature and are careful to avoid offending the spirits of the hills, river, crops, rain, etc. A number of Southern Guiyang Miao near Anshun have converted to Christianity.
The first Protestant missionary in the region was J. R. Adam of the China Inland Mission, who commenced work near Anshun in 1899. A strong Miao church exists there today. One author who visited them comments, "They witness to God not by their appearance, but by their living. Their mouths are not filled with theological terms or Biblical messages. Pastors do not wear ties, white shirts and dark blue pants. What they wear are work clothes; what they carry are agricultural tools; the Miao Christians are a blessed community."