For most women, long hair is considered a symbol of femininity. For the women in the Chinese village Huangluo, the hair is their most precious treasure.
Huangluo is one of the main touristic attractions of China. Strangers come here not only to admire the dreamy landscapes, but also to find out more about the locals’ obsession for long hair, obsession that brought them a place in the Guinness Book of Records. This is because Huangluo is the village where you will find most women with the longest hair in the world.
If we think that in Huangluo are 120 women and the average length of their hair is 1.7 meters, then we can say that the performance of the Chinese women in the village is remarkable.
Long hair has always been considered the most precious ornament of women in Huangluo. In fact, until a few years ago, long tresses were so valued that nobody, apart from the husband and the children, could look at them when they were loose. During summer and autumn, women went to the river to wash their hair and then they covered it with a blue scarf so nobody could see their treasure. The only man that had the privilege of seeing the woman’s hair was her husband and this happened for the first time during the wedding day. If a stranger happened to see a woman’s hair, he was practically forced to live for three year with the family of the girl, being considered her husband. This custom was abandoned in 1987 and from that moment women can show their hair freely.
Some things do not change in the Hunagluo. Women cut their hair once in life, at the age of 16, when they start to look for a man, and they do not throw their cut tresses. They give them to their grandmother who then turns the tresses into an ornament to put on the head. When the woman gets married, her hair that was cut at the age of 16 is given to the groom and then becomes a basic component of the woman’s everyday hairstyle.
According to the same tradition, the women in Huangluo wear three types of hair: the one on their head, the one that was cut when they were 16 and the one that falls and is collected with great care. All three categories are arranged and combined into an elaborate hairstyle that certifies the social status of the wearer.