Nov. 26, 2012
An ethnic Miao woman carries baskets of embroidered items to show guests on the first day of the Guzang Festival in Leishan county, southeast Guizhou province, China. Guzang Festival, during which the Miao people commemorate their ancestors once every 13 years, is one of the biggest traditional festivals for the Miao. “Gu” means “drum,” and “zang” means “to bury.” The complicated rites consist of a series of great ceremonies, including the Zhaolong (inviting the dragon), Xinggu (awakening the drum), Yinggu (welcoming the drum), Shenniu (inspecting the cattle) and the white drum ritual, which is a significant sacrifice marking the end of the festival. The Miao believe wooden drums made of maple trees are where their ancestors’ souls rest, so they gather under the holy maple and communicate with their ancestors through drumming and dancing.