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Lusheng Festival, a Defining Festival of the Miao People


Lusheng Festival is a traditional festival of the Miao Ethnic Group. It is celebrated in many parts of southwestern China, but falls on different times. The original purpose of the Lusheng Festival was to provide an opportunity for courtship among young people, while today it has become a much more general annual celebration, though the courtship ritual is still at the heart of the Lusheng Festival.




Lusheng is an antique reed-pipe wind instrument. Legend has it that it was Zhuge Liang (an ancient outstanding militarist) who taught the Miao people to make Lusheng.


As early as in the Tang Dynasty, Lusheng was widely made and played by ethnic people living in southwest China. The instruments were made of bamboo of different sizes, with the largest one at 3 meters long and smaller ones at 30 centimeters long.


Step by step, Lusheng is indispensable in their daily life and festive occasions. It gradually becomes the symbol of the Miao and their culture.




During the Lusheng Festival, the Miao people gather together at a public place from villages far and near. Hundreds of the Lusheng in dozens of groups are simultaneously played by the boys and the music is reverberating far and wide. The Miao girls wearing silver-decorated ethnic costumes and head ornaments are dancing together to the rhythms, forming one circle after another together on the playing ground, and appearing a silver swirling sea.


As the music and dancing begins, the whole village is cheering up. People celebrate in the hopes of a plentiful harvest. The lovely Miao girls walk and dance in the sun and their cheeks burn with excitement while they flirt with handsome young men, each of whom is searching for a beauty worthy of his strength and handsomeness. Thus young people will take this chance to meet their beloved ones and express their affection for each other.


The Festival is both an exhibition of prosperity and a competition of skill and wisdom. Those noble and dignified, well-behaved youngsters are praised and those clever and deft, beautifully-decorated girls are admired. At the Lusheng Festival, people can enjoy other activities, such as bullfighting, basketball match, tug of war, mountain-climbing, horse racing, chess-playing, hitting bronze drums, etc.





Lusheng Festival not only defines Miao villages, it is intimately related to the livelihood of other ethnic groups. Because of its versatility, Lusheng is gradually being adopted by other Chinese minority cultures than the Miao, such as those of the Buyi, the Dong, the Shui, the Yao and the Yi, and it is perhaps only a matter of time before it makes its way into Western culture.


Different ethnic groups observe this festival in their own ways. The celebrations in Kaili, Zhouxi and Huangping of the Guizhou Province are regarded as the grandest and most spectacular. The Kaili International Lusheng Festival has been held annually since 1999, which has drawn the world’s attention.

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