Laomeng Sunday Market: Photo Video

Laomeng Sunday Market

Yao lady and child at Laomeng Sunday Market

I hope you enjoy this photo video of Laomeng Market in the Jinping Prefecture of China’s Yunnan Province. It was definately one of the best markets we’ve ever been to.

Laomeng Market (Jinping, Yunnan Province)

The hotel owner in Yuanyang had told us to get there early, as many of the hill tribe people have to walk all the way back and the market starts breaking up at around noon.

So we got to Laomeng at about 8:30, where we were among the first to arrive. We walked once round the town and had a look at the few stalls already set up by a small number of colourfully dressed Miao ladies and some older Yi women. Most of them seemed as curious about us, as we were about them. By the time we got back to our starting point, dozens of vans, carts and other vehicles had already arrived, unloading hundreds of passengers and all kinds of goods. They brought with them a kaleidoscopic mix of colours, as ladies from the Hani, Yao, Yi, Miao and Black Thai ethnic groups spilled out from the back and descended upon the market for a few hours of frenzied buying and selling.

For the next 3 hours we were treated to a visual feast that left us drained and out of film. Our driver had filled us in on some of the intricacies of the local costumes, so we were more or less able to distinguish between the women from the different ethnic groups…
For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

Miao Fruit Sellers
Miao Fruit Sellers

The Hani / Hanizu



Photo From the Yunnan Book on the Hani


The Hanizu


One of China’s least known Ethnic minorities



Photo From the Yunnan Book on the Hani

We first came across the Hani, one of China’s more than 50 ethnic minorities, a few years ago when we had the fortune to spend a number of days in Yuanyang (Yunnan Province link) and the surrounding rice terraces of the fabulous Ailao mountains. Apart from the Hani, the Ailao mountains are home to a number of other minorities such as the Yi, the Yao, or the Miao. However, it was the Hani who were most in evidence in and around Yuanyang, and it was fascinating to watch them going about their daily lives, whether buying and selling in the vibrant markets, strolling around the town square at dusk, tending to their famous rice terraces, or walking back towards their idyllic ‘mushroom’ villages with their farm animals in tow.



Who are the Hani?

The Hani, who number about 1.29 million in China, used to be renowned for being fierce warriors, but these days it is their remarkable farming techniques, especially rice terrace farming, that have made them famous. The finest examples of this spectacular agricultural feat can be seen near Yuanyang.

The Hani are made up of various subgroups – each with its own customs, dress and dialect – which can be found not only in China, but in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar as well. In China, they have settled in southern Yunnan where they have established communities in the prefectures along the Red River (Honghe) and in the Mekong (Langcang) area of Xishuangbanna. They are also found in Pu’er, Jiancheng near Simao, and Yuanjiang county near Yuxi.

The location of their settlements is a result of centuries of migration, due to wars, famines and natural disasters, from the elevated Tibetan lands near the Burmese border. It is therefore no surprise that the Hani speak a language that is related to Tibeto-Burman, and is classified as part of the family of Tibetan languages. However, as opposed to Tibetan or Burmese, no writing system exists for the Hani language.



While Hani men are generally indistinguishable from their Han counterparts, though on festive occasions they often wear black or white turbans, it is the women who continue to wear distinctive ethnic clothing, which varies widely, depending on the region in which they live. Some common traits are heavy silver jewellery, the use of decorative silver coins and a strong liking for black cloth. Other colours worn by the Hani are indigo and petrol-blue, as well as green. If a Hani lady’s headdress is very colourful and decorated, this means that she is single. On the other hand, if her jacket is decorated with silver coins, she is married.

Mushroom Houses



The Hani from around Yuanyang have specialised in building what are popularly known as Mushroom Houses or Mogu Fangzi in Chinese. These are Square adobe structures with slightly pointed thatched roofs. Seen from a distance a Hani village might remind one of a Hobbit’s house from The Lord of the Rings.



Photo From the Yunnan Book on the Hani

The Hani have a variety of gods and wizards who they worship. They hold a number of festivals throughout the year in order to pay homage to and venerate these spiritual beings. The biggest of these festivals are the Kuzhazha Festival and the Tenth Month Festival. The latter coincides with the first dragon day of the tenth month and is the occasion when you can witness the Hani celebrating their legendary long table banquets. Rather like a British street party. Tables are set out in a long line through the center of the town or village and food and wine are served to all villagers. Singing, dancing, games and general mayhem all follow.

More Information

Anyone who wishes to know more about the Hani should try to see the excellent film “When Rouma was 17 (Rouma de shi qi sui) directed by Zhang Yiarui and starring Shu Linyuan, Li Min, Yang Zhigang.

This sweet and sometimes humorous story is about a young Hani girl, Rouma, facing up to the complexities of modern life that are now penetrating the remote rural area where she lives. Apart from a good impression of Hani lifestyle, the film also provides some great shots of Yuanyang and the surrounding countryside.

We’ll hopefully add more information to this article after our visit this summer (2008) to the Hani areas of Xishuangbanna.


For more on the Hani and Yuanyang go to:

HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

Yuanyang Rice Terraces / 远阳梯田 2006


During the first two or three months of every year, thousands of professional and would- be professional photographers descend upon this remote town in Yunnan province to take photos of one of nature’s most beautiful phenomena, the changing of winter to spring on some of the most spectacular rice terraces in the world. At this time, the paddies are full of water, and their beauty is enhanced by the shifting contrasts of light and rolling mists that provide stunning vistas. At sunrise and sunset the water in the paddies can take on a myriad of colours, ranging from an eerie blue, to pink, yellow and bright red, thus providing the perfect hunting ground for those in search of the ultimate shot.

Unfortunately, our work schedule left us with no choice but to visit Yuanyang in summer, when the terraces have taken on a bright emerald hue, but are devoid of water. They are still an awesome sight, especially at dawn, but they are no match for those glossy photos, adorning the multiple coffee-table books and postcards that you can find all over town. The locals, who seem to be fairly obsessed with rice paddy viewing, constantly remind us that this is the wrong time to visit and insist that we should come again in February, to see the real thing!

The most popular terrace viewing points are:
Longshubao: particularly recommended for Continue reading “Yuanyang Rice Terraces / 远阳梯田 2006”