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Miao Nationality Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province: The villages of Miao Nationality at the Foot of Leigong Mountain in Miao Ling Mountains

Date of Submission: 28/03/2008
Criteria: (i)(iv)(v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
State, Province or Region:
Autonomous Prefecture of Miao and Dong Nationalities in Southeast Guizhou, Guizhou Province
Ref.: 5344
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Leishan County, N 26 15-26 34, E 107 58-108 24

Taijiang County N 26 22-26 51, E 108 08-108 28

Jianhe County N 26 20-26 55, E 108 17-109 04

Congjiang County N 23 21-24 04, E 108 13-109 13

As one of the numerous nationalities living in Southwest China, the Miao Nationality has a unique cultural tradition of its own. The Miao Nationality Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province are distributed mainly in Leishan, Taijiang, Jianhe and Congjiang counties. According to legend, the Miao Nationality has originated from a tribe called Jiuli that lived in the lower reaches of the Yellow River more than 5,000 years ago. Later this tribe migrated to areas in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River to form the Sanmiao Tribe. During the Qin and the Han dynasties, they moved to settle down in today's east Guizhou Province. During the Yuan and the Ming dynasties, they moved further to the southwest part of Guizhou Province. By the Qing Dynasty, the Leigongshan area of Guizhou Province became the chief area for the Miao Nationality people to live. Later, some Miao people moved to today's Viet Nam, the Laos, Thailand, Burma, and some European and American countries. The Leigongshan area in the Autonomous Prefecture of Miao and Dong Nationalities in Southeast Guizhou are densely populated by the Miao People, dotted by more than 200 Miao Villages, including 21 that have been included in China's Tentative List of World Heritage.

Distributed in lofty ridges and towering mountains or in the depth of forests, these rationally laid out villages are unique in architecture, ancient and simple in custom, and strong in life flavour. These properties reflect the traditional mode of production and life style of the Miao people, their housing form, and the changes of their society. They also reflect the course of evolution of their culture, the relationship between the unique natural environment and human residences, and the diversity of human culture. Intangible cultural heritage also stands out as an important element. The layout and architectural form of the Miao Villages in the Leigongshan area have the distinctive local style of an ethnic culture, demonstrating the key value of the authenticity of a heritage.

The Miao Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province is an outstanding example of human residences. Being the representative of the Miao culture, they take up an important position in the development of the history and culture of the Miao people. Being influenced by modern civilization, however, the traditional life style and culture here have met with stern challenges.

As a unique architectural achievement and a masterpiece of talented creation, these villages are of great value for scientific study. The Miao culture kept here is the most authentic and integral. The Miao's flying songs, love songs, drinking songs, bronze-drum dances and other art popular in these villages are the important representatives of the Miao culture. The phenomena of the primitive culture kept in these villages are of outstanding universal value.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

As the property of building clusters, the authenticity of the Miao Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province is reflected in their environment, layout, architectural form, the building materials and technologies, and the traditional production mode and life style. The villages referred to in this project are numerous in number and differ from each other. Modern life has influenced and is continuously influencing the villages themselves, their architectures, and the production mode and life style, in particular. Generally speaking, however, the major villages mentioned here can fully reflect the uniqueness and authenticity of the Miao culture.

The environments and architecture of the Miao Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province as well as the production mode, life style, folkways, belief and art developed here can basically cover all the aspects of the tangible and intangible culture of the Miao villages, and demonstrate the basic form of layout, architectural style, and traditional culture of the Miao villages. With a comparatively large area of nominated property and a buffer zone, these villages reflect the relationship of harmony and unity between human residences and natural environments and the integrity of an ancient village culture.

Comparison with other similar properties

This cultural heritage reflects the diversity of China's ethnic culture, the current state of development of a traditional ethnic culture exposed to threats from modern civilization. It also includes the relative intangible cultural heritages. In the World Heritage List, no item reflecting the diversity of the Miao culture has been included yet. Compared with the Miao villages distributed in other parts of China, the Miao Villages in Southeast Guizhou Province are the most typical in terms of the environment and layout, the production mode and life style of their residents, and the craftsmanship and technology involved in the construction.