China’s Last Gunslingers

A slideshow in National Geographic depicts life in a Miao village in Guizhou which carries on a tradition of gun ownership and use, a rarity in China. From the introduction:

The population of Biasha is ethnically Miao, one of 55 minority groups recognized in China. Minority groups have long been granted exceptions to laws that govern the rest of China, says Rutgers anthropologist Louisa Schein. While the gun exception may be “very particular” to this group, exemptions themselves are “not uncommon,” she says, pointing to minority exemptions to China’s restrictive birth policies.

Bee Vang, a Hmong American student of Miao descent, went to China on a “roots-seeking” trip and said his visit to Biasha was influenced by the strong emphasis on masculine culture. Where other villages focused on women’s costumes, he says, in Biasha, “it was all about the men and the boys and the guns.”

The guns are a powerful draw for Chinese citizens as well. Vang notes that when he was in Biasha, a TV crew was filming urbanites who had been brought to the countryside for a Survivor-style competition, capitalizing on the perception of the rural gunmen as tougher people from a bygone era. [Source]


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