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.

苗族是居住在中国南部和东南亚的一个古老民族。苗族人口在中国境内超过1100万,他们被认定为56个官方民族之一,是中国的第五大民族。苗族主要居住在中国南部的山区,如贵州省、云南省、四川省、湖北省、湖南省等。中国以外的一些苗族分支,例如苗族蒙人(Hmong),已经移居到缅甸、越南北部、老挝和泰国等东南亚地区。20世纪70年代末,一大批苗族难民重新移居安置到美国、法国和澳大利亚为主的几个西方国家。

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。

由于Pollard苗文并不能充分地代表A-Hmao的语音和声调,且不太适合向汉语借词,人们为改进Pollard苗文书写做出了各种尝试。从1988年开始,除了旧版本的文字和拼音版本外,还有一种半官方的”改革后”的Pollard文字被采用。

Source: https://omniglot.com/writing/pollardmiao.htm (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.

婚礼是苗族文化中非常重要的一部分。大部分的小水井村村民的婚礼结合了苗族的传统文化和基督文化。以下视频记录了小水井合唱团指挥龙诗音的婚礼。

在云南传统的苗族婚礼中,新郎需带着伴郎敲锣打鼓地来到新娘家,表示他诚意求娶新娘。新郎在得到新娘家人的同意后,将带着新娘一同离开,这个过程称为“接亲”。之后,新人们会去村中的道堂(一个用于祭拜苗族祖先的地方)跪拜三次,祈求祖先的保佑。

传统的“接亲”仪式延续至今,但婚礼上演奏的音乐已被改为苗语的基督音乐。当今住在小水井的年轻苗族夫妇会在村里的礼堂举行带有基督文化场景的苗族婚礼仪式。

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