Anna Sui fulfilled a longtime dream to attend the Sisters’ Meal Festival in Guizhou, China, earlier this month with her mother. Here is a postcard from her travels.
“A few years ago, on the day of my fashion show, my mom woke up and said, ‘Can you take my passport and get me a Chinese visa? I want to go to Guizhou. I saw something about it on TV, I want to see the Miao people.’ And I said,’Does it have to be today, Mom?’
“Well, we finally made it there this year to see the extraordinary Sisters’ Meal Festival, which was April 30 to May 2 and is like the Miao’s Valentine’s Day. Young women collect wild flowers from the mountains to make dyes for coloring handfuls of steamed rice in bright hues…blue, pink, yellow and violet! These are wrapped in bundles to hand out to young men. Hidden inside are coded messages. A bamboo hook means, ‘Let’s get in touch.’ Pepper or garlic means, ‘No way!’ A piece of cotton means, ‘I miss you.’ Chinese parsley means, ‘Let’s get married.’ If both cotton and parsley are included together, it means, ‘Let’s get married ASAP!’
“If a girl gives a boy a live duck, it means that he should give her a piglet in return, which they can enjoy together at the following year’s Sisters’ Meal Feast!
“The surrounding landscape of rounded green mountains, terraced farming and Chinese azaleas was breathtaking. We visited many towns, with their beautiful gateways and pagoda roofed bridges. The traditional festival costumes of each village were totally dazzling. I thought, ‘Finally, this is the China of my dreams!’
“Each village specializes in their own distinct tradition of paper-making, batik, embroidery, silver jewelry and Lusheng musical instruments. We visited an extraordinary museum of Miao costume. They offer a course to learn the traditions of Miao embroidery, and takes you to each of the different villages to learn their handicrafts. I would love to organize a group to go there to study!
“This trip exceeded all my expectations and I can’t wait to go back.”
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