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Zhenshan Ethnic Village

Zhenshan Ethnic Village

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Dec. 22, 2022

Accolades

  • Foreign tourists like visiting the village since it is authentic, looks really different from most other places, and isn't built-up.
  • You can see people spreading grain and vegetables around their houses and in the streets, to dry out.
  • The grey slate roofs and alleys look cool.
  • Formerly a fortified village, it is now a farming and tourist village, occupied by Buyi and Miao people.
  • In Zhenshan you can listen to music played on reed flutes (called lusheng) and to antiphonal (responsive) singing.

Other Features

Surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes, the village of Zhenshan, with more than a hundred households, dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The village is built against the mountains and surrounded by water. The people build with rugged slate stone that they dig from the mountains. They use this for walls, pavements and roofs, and they even use it for other things like containers, tables, chairs and stoves. The people make unique houses. The entire village is built of stone. Today, a fortification and some barracks have remained intact. About 75% of the villagers are Buyi and the rest are Miao. This is an unusual mix of distinct minority nationalities in one village.

Special Attractions

People in Zhenshan have several festivals peculiar to them. The most important is the Dancing Festival (Tiaohuachang), on the 10th day of the first lunar month every year (various dates on the regular calendar). A local legend tells of a forefather of the Buyi who was captured by bandits. Not being able to rescue him alone, they asked their Miao neighbors for help. Through the playing of lusheng and the singing of Miao songs not understood by the bandits, they were able to communicate with and rescue the man. This festival is a celebration of the Miao helping the Buyi. Wearing beautiful costumes, they play lusheng and sing and dance for three days to celebrate as the moon waxes full.

In Zhenshan, they also celebrate the Siyueba Festival on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, and the Qiyueban Festival on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. (Siyueba means 'eighth day of the fourth month'. Qiyueban means 'halfway through the seventh month'.) These festivals have become joyous occasions among the Zhenshan minority people.

While visiting the village, it is possible to dine with a local family. Both Buyi and Miao families open up their homes for tourists to taste their food, such as home-made smoked bacon bean curd, pickled vegetable soup, fresh fish, and rice wine. While visiting the homes, you may observe decorations or traditions from the past. Local traditions include singing ethnic songs in antiphonal (responsive) style and playing lusheng.

Zhenshan village is near the beautiful Huaxi Lake Scenic Area and the Tianhetan Scenic Area. You can rent a boat and enjoy the lake.

Transportation

Zhenshan is about 20 kilometers from Guiyang. You can reach the village by bus or taxi. If you want a scenic excursion, you can first take a bus from Guiyang to the Tianhetan Scenic Area or the Huaxi Scenic Area. From there, you can either take a local motorcycle or hike to Zhenshan (about 2 km).

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