Tao Hair Culture

The Tao women of Ping’an village keep all their hair all their lives. They grow their hair until they are 18 at which time it is cut for the first time. The cut tresses, which are as long as the girl is tall, are gathered into a binding. It’s on the table to the woman’s right.

20130330-093857.jpg Each day it gets combed as does the rest of her hair. The long strands that fall out into her comb are then combined into another long rope, for the rest of her life.

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Each day she combs the hair on her head, the cut from age 18, and the gathered shedded pieces and winds all of that together into a bundle on top of her head. The shape of the bundle tells the world whether she is married or single, and how many children she has. Our guide said that this woman is 50 years old – I didn’t believe a word of it, but given the length of her hair, she must be at least 40!

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When we attended the Li River Mythology Extravaganza Show, in one of the vignettes, about 20 of these women danced together, with their pre-18 hair unbound and touching the floor at their heels.

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