Basha is a special, traditional Miao village, virtually untouched by modernization. Basha residents still live in their wooden houses, practice centuries-old customs and have their own unique beliefs.
The village is perched on a hill 7.5 kilometers from Congjiang county town. Legend has it that the ancient ancestors of people in Basha emigrated from heartland China to this isolated mountainous region over 2,000 years ago.
The village has many diaojiaolou (traditional Miao dwellings built on wooden stakes). When seen from afar, it looks as though it has layer upon layer of moss-covered bark roofs. Scattered around open spaces and hillsides in the village are other wooden structures; these are racks for drying unhusked rice. Don’t be alarmed if you see some guns around, as the Basha Miao are (the only minority people) allowed to carry guns.
Visitors to Basha are frequently greeted outside the village in the traditional manner by a group of Basha men carrying long rifles. Please do not be frightened! They are just locals practicing a traditional welcome ceremony.
Like men of the imperial dynasties, most Basha men still wear their hair long. As children, Basha boys, like girls, keep their hair long until they are 16 years old. A ceremony for initiation into adulthood is then convened, when a boy becomes a man; and he is allowed to decide then whether or not to keep his hair long. At the ceremony, either a young man's head is shaved or left unshaved; if unshaved, his hair is then twisted and coiled on top of his head.
Around Basha village there are many large, tall trees. Like many other ethnic groups that take an animal or material object as their totem, the Basha Miao worship trees. On important occasions or during traditional festivals, villagers usually burn incense under large, ancient trees as part of a prayer for health and happiness. The Basha Miao plant a tree on the birth of a baby. The same tree may then be cut down to make a coffin when the person dies.
The people of Basha have maintained their unique code of dress from the time of the Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BC). Basha men usually wear collarless coats, with buttons on the left side or down the front, and baggy short trousers. They do not usually wear shoes, even in the cold winter. Women's clothing is more colorful: coats buttoned down the front, kilts and more colorful wrappings.