The Yao is one of 56 nationalities recognized by the People’s Republic of China. They live in the mountainous regions of South and Southwest China. In addition, they also settle in Northern Laos and Vietnam, as well as in Myanmar. Around 60,000 Yao live in Northern Thailand.
The 2000-year-old tribe in Huangluo, a small community deep in the mountains of southern Guangxi, near the Longji Rice Terraces, counts 400 people. Female members of the Yao ethnic group in China cut their hair once in their lives just before the wedding. 60 women in the tribe have hair longer than three feet. The world’s longest documented hair belongs to Xie Qiuping, which in May 2004 measured 18 feet and 5.54 inches. The tribal tradition has earned the Yao of Huangluo a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s first longhair village.
The history of the Yao people can be traced back to the Qin Dynasty to 221 to 207 BC. Currently, about 2.6 million ethnic Yao live in different provinces, some also live abroad. The locals use rice water to wash their hair – a secret for them to keep their hair healthy, smooth and shiny. According to the beliefs of the Yao people, long hair brings longevity, prosperity, and happiness.