If you thought Rapunzel was resigned to fairy tales then meet the women of Yao ethnic group in China’s Guangxi province. The women here are characterized by their red embroidered dress and their long hair, which is long enough to have their home recognized as the “world’s longest hair village” by Guinness World Records.
Female members of the Yao ethnic group in China’s Guangxi province only ever cut their hair once in their lives usually before they marry, reports the People’s Daily Online.
According to China.org.cn, the Yao tribe dates back some 2,000 years. There are 600 members of the tribe in the total made up of 78 families.
Most of the women’s hair hangs down to their ankles with 60 members of the tribe with hair longer than three feet. The longest hair in the village is seven feet long.
51-year-old Pan Jifeng is a member of the Yao ethnic group who has kept to tradition only cutting her hair once in her life. According to her, the long hair that women of the Yao ethnic group have kept for generations is a symbol of auspiciousness.
She revealed that the secret to keeping one’s hair long, shiny and away from grey hair is to wash hair with water used to clean glutinous rice. Speaking to reporters she said:
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“We do not cut our hair from birth. When we reach the age of 18, we get our first haircut as part of a coming-of-age ceremony, which signifies that the girl is now an adult and can marry. The hair cut off at the ceremony is not to be thrown away, but preserved. After marriage and childbirth, this section of the hair is weaved and worn in the form of a hairpin so to speak, as a distinction between married and unmarried women”.
Many of the women work as performers in a local troupe that put on shows for tourists coming to the region. Pan along with her two daughter-in-laws are part of the troupe.
Pan’s young granddaughter has already started growing her hair but she says it’s up to her granddaughter if she wants to keep growing it because “girls these days don’t like to wash their hair with water used to clean glutinous rice. They don’t like that particular smell”.
A Chinese woman, Xie Qiuping, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest hair. Her hair measured 18 feet and 5.54 inches in May 2004.