Are you interested in the special culture and traditional lifestyle of the Miao ethnic group? In the mountains of the Guizhou province in the southwest of China still lives a unique and ancient tribe of the Miao. The Tribe is called “Basha” and is the last remaining gunmen tribe in China. Don’t hesitate and book a flight to get a cultural insight in the life of the Basha people.

A Legend says that the ancestors or the Basha tribe immigrated to the isolated mountain area over 2000 years ago. Today it is almost unbelievable that there still exists a tribe in China where the lifestyle is very ancient.

However this tribe exists. About 2000-3000 men and women still live in more than 400 wooden households, practice centuries-old customs and hold unique beliefs. Moreover the Basha tribe is the only group in China that is permitted to carry guns. Therefore the tribe often is called the last gunmen tribe in China. At this place ancient culture is most completely protected. The group also quite differs from other Miao ethnic groups especially in terms of clothing and daily life.

The men of the Basha tribe are dressed like ancient warriors. They have 7 items they are wearing every day: guns, wine bottle, curved knife, tobacco pipe, gunpowder contained within guard-shaped container, wallet and flower bag. Also the hairstyle is unique. Same as the men in Qing Dynasty the Basha men wear their hair in Braids. The hair on the head is mostly shaved except in the middle, where it is twisted and knotted. This is a symbol of power and masculinity. Boys between the ages of seven and fifteen have to take part in a shaving ceremony. The tribe leader shaves all off the boy’s hair except for the central part, which is then knotted. At the age of fifteen they boys will also get a hunting rifle. This is the sign that they have become an adult.

The Basha people believe that the buns on their heads represent trees and the purple clothe they wear represent bark. Basha people worship trees as gods. Whenever a baby is born, a tree will be planted.  When the person dies the tree will be cut down to make a coffin. However cut down ancient trees is forbidden in the village nowadays.

The Basha people lived there traditional life for a long time isolated from the rest of the world. There were no good roads that lead to the next city. Therefore only a few people came to the city and also few people went outside the city as nothing was needed from the outside. When the Basha attracted first visitors new roads were build and more and more tourists came to see the life of the Basha. Today it has become a tourist attraction and the tourism has become part of daily life.

The local government supports each family with 1000RMB per month, therefore the life of the Basha improved a lot. Due to today’s connection to the outside a lot of young Basha people move to the cities to get a good job.

Besides become a touristic place the Basha still live their traditional life and if you are interested to see it you should definitely visit them while you travel in China. The Basha men will welcome you with a gunshot in the air and show you their traditional dances.

Jack Li

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