I had heard of the powers of rice water, and its ability to strengthen and grow hair. Seeing its presentation on numerous logs and beauty channels, run by Black American women beauty bloggers, piqued my interest, into new beauty regiments for natural hair care. The rice water treatment. I had learned of other natural elements for natural tightly-curled hair, and those Black American women, deciding to embrace (and nourish) their natural hair. My mind was curious. Wandering, and desiring to know, the origins of this beauty regiment. With more research, I came across a beautiful culture of women. A tradition of women’s culture, who specialize in the art of, growing long hair.
A simple typing of the terms, “rice water,” and there they had appeared. They are referred to as the “Red Yao women.” Residing in Guangxi Zhuang, China, their village is known as the “long hair” village. Watching videos of their regiment, the process, and how they grow hair, this feminine artistry said it all. In this “long hair” village, hair is more than an accessory to beauty. Growing long hair is a spiritual connection. A tradition measuring a time, that a young maiden of Guangxi Zhuang will enter into her womanhood. Washing their hair together with rice water, or preparing the beauty elixir in circles, is also a form of feminine bonding. Its a form of Sisterhood, and a caring of other women. Wanting them to be beautiful. Feeling beautiful. And, of even more importance, sharing a common experience among women of connecting their femininity to the Earth. Understanding that beauty is more than a surface thing. Beauty also has depth. True beauty is found beneath the surface. Yes, there are strong features, and beautiful attributes, on the outside. Their purpose is to guide (and attract you) into something, of greater meaning.
Watching rituals of China’s Yao women of Guangxi Zhuang’s, Huangluo village, it was evident that water is the source of their beauty secret. The use of rice, which relies on water for its production, and water, itself. This beauty tradition of the Red Yao women is a perfect example as to how beauty is also a Spiritual presence. That beauty is like water. Constantly moving, changing its form, flowing into new territory. Encompassing of life’s essentials, and. . .bonding! Water is one of the elements of beauty. Together, watching the women wash their hair together, these beauty rituals are more about empowering and nurturing the rituals of Sisterhood among them. For, this Sisterhood is necessary should women continue the practices of their ancient culture. Cultural preservation, and sustaining the culture for future generations to come, is one of the essentials of beauty for the Chinese women of the Huangluo Village!
Another important attribute, that was noticed in my observation (through digital media) of the Huangluo Village women, were the familial connections between mother and daughter. How this bond is strengthened in a mother’s combing, washing, and styling of her daughter’s hair. Yet, it is not in the same method or design. For young maidens of Huangluo, their hair represents that they are not married or mothers. Again, there is a distinction between maidens and mothers. Another mysterious element of the maiden, is that strangers and men are not allowed to see the preparation and styling of a young maiden’s hair. Thereby, further highlighting the role and significance of a young, Huangluo maiden, in the community. Adding to the sacredness of their traditions, that not everything can be seen.
With more research, I observed the pleasures of seeing one cultural tradition, where young, Huangluo village girls gather for a coming of age ceremony. A ceremony, as a young, maiden’s hair is cut by her mother, symbolizing her entrance into womanhood. These traditions allow for that transition into the world of woman-and all of the responsibilities and lessons, that it entails. And then, the young maidens continue to grow their hair. This is the essence of it all. Again, beauty is more than just about “looking good.” Beauty is supposed to connect women to each other. That is one of the biggest lessons, clearly being taught in this particular culture of womanhood.
Tea oils. Peelings from pomelo. Water from bamboo for the creation of rice water. Do you hear the tastes of nature in these words? Beauty is connected to nature. It is intertwined into a natural element in cleaning the inside, while amplifying the out. There is a clear respect for the Earth. Therefore, in honoring the Earth, there is a beautiful fruition, which takes places. Re-designing one’s femininity to the Earth, sharing that knowledge, and passing it down through different generations is clearly what is taking place for the Red Yao women of China. Furthermore, what is also happening is a consistent healing, regeneration, and restoration for the community. It goes to show that if the women are healed, and in harmony, so will be the community. When women are in strife, everyone suffers.
It is very evident that living in the village, in the surroundings of nature, means that such women have a different appreciation for the rich greenery of Chinese landscapes, than those who don’t. When people are connected to nature, sharing her, giving and receiving, there is a blossom of love, arising. One sees the nourishment of the human Spirit. One observes the Earthly nourishment. Furthermore, one becomes dedicated to the possibilities of knowing that harmony with the Earth is the only way for humanity to live. That true beauty, and how it is reflected, is connected to the resources and bounties of the Earth. This gives one, true meaning to the song “Natural Woman,” sung by Aretha Franklin, as written by Carole King. natural women spread healing, and beauty, to other women. At least, they try to.
Another attribute in the use of “rice water,” is that it goes to show Earth’s natural vitamins. Earth’s softness, through her soiling and water. Rice is akin to those carbohydrate-enriched crops. Which means that there is a kind of thickness to its aura. Similar to the ways of corn and wheat. And, again, it is connected to the land. As other cultures of women, who have used the Earth for their beauty secrets, the Huangluo Village women understand that healthy and successful growth takes place when it is connected to the Earth’s natural rhythm and spacing. Her natural beats, products, and vegetation. Making it clear that harm of the Earth causes harm for humanity. Getting outside of the natural movement patterns and cycles, means that humanity suffers. Trying to overpower her, results in one’s own detriment. There is a reason for the stress and high levels of mental and emotional disorder taking place. Much of this taking place in the urban sectors of society.
Beauty is in the hair. The texture, style, and design of our hair is reflective of our culture and communities. For women, it reveals the secrets concerning, who were are, and how well we have matriculated into the true artistry of womanhood. In the context of the Huangluo village of Guangxi Zhuang, the women of this community make hair care a Sisterly vibe. Washing their hair with rice water, and other natural elements, is a way of sustaining peace in the community. Circulating healthy relationships, and collective bonding experiences, allows these women to sustain healthy relationships with each other. Thereby, taking that same energy and spreading it throughout their communities. Hair care is a euphoric healing. That’s love! Love and power is in the hair. What better way to use that power than to make it healing and fahionable, at the same time! Now, that’s a loving, hair story hair!