The Miao, encompassing various linguistically-related sub-groups, are predominantly situated in Southern China and parts of Southeast Asia. They are acknowledged as one of the 56 official ethnicities by the People’s Republic of China. With a population surpassing 11 million in China, they rank as the fifth largest ethnic group1. Their primary settlements are in the mountainous regions of southern China, spanning provinces such as Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, and Hunan. Notably, the Hmong, a sub-group of the Miao, have ventured beyond China’s borders into Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Northern Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The late 1970s witnessed a significant migration of Hmong refugees to Western nations, with predominant resettlements in the United States, France, and Australia.


1 Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China. 2020. China Statistical Yearbook, Beijing: China Statistics Press.

School textbook with Miao writing text and its translation in Mandarin.

Miao Writing

The Pollard script, which is also known as Pollard Miao or Miao, was devised in 1905 by Samuel Pollard (1864-1915), a British missionary, with help from Yang Yage and Li Shitifan. Before Pollard came along, the A-Hmao language, when written at all, was written with Chinese characters. Pollard Miao underwent many changes and revisions and only became stable in 1936, when a translation of the New Testament was published in the Pollard script.

Various efforts have been made to improve Pollard Miao writing, which inadequately represents the phonetics and tones of A-Hmao and is not ideal for writing Chinese loan words. A semi-official ‘reformed’ Pollard script has been in use since 1988, along with the older version of the script, and the pīnyīn version.

Pollard文字,也被称为Pollard苗文或苗文,是英国传教士Samuel Pollard (1864-1915) 于1905年在Yang Yage和Li Shitifan的帮助下发明的。在Pollard发明之前,A-Hmao语言若被书写的话,会被写成汉字。直到1936年,当《新约》的Pollard版本被发布时,Pollard苗文经过多次修改后才逐渐稳定下来。


Source: (Accessed: Dec. 13, 2022)

Picking up the Bride (接亲) – Video shot by Fengli Wang, February 2023
Sung by relatives – Video shot by Fengli Wang, February 2023
The witness song – Video shot by Fengli Wang, February 2023

Miao Wedding

The wedding ceremony is a very important part of the Miao culture. Most of the villagers in Xiaoshuijing village have weddings that combine Miao traditional culture with Christian culture. The following videos record the wedding ceremony of Long Shiyin (龙诗音), who’s father is the conductor of the Xiaoshuijing Choir.

In Yunnan, at a traditional Miao wedding, the groom is supposed to come with his best man to the bride’s house and play gongs and drums to show her family that he is sincere in his desire to marry her. After the groom has obtained the consent of the bride’s family, the bride shall leave with the groom, which is we also known as the “picking up the bride”(接亲). The groom and the bride then go together to the Dao Hall (a place used to worship Miao ancestors) in the middle of the village and kneel three times, which means to pray to the Miao ancestors for their future lives.

The traditional ceremony of “picking up the bride” has maintained, but the music has been changed to composed Christian music sung in the Miao language. Today, young Miao couples living in Xiaoshuijing hold Miao wedding ceremonies with Christian cultural elements in the village hall.




Bride (Long Shiyin) & Groom (Zhang Jiehui) Picture shot by Fengli Wang, February 2023