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The Chinese Village of Long-Haired Rapunzels

(Photo: Vberger)

Huanglou, a village in the Guangxi Province of China, has a unique cultural practice: the women cut their hair only once during their entire lives. Otherwise, they let it grow up to 7 feet long. They are masters of the care of very long hair, using their own particular shampoo developed over the centuries.

The Red Yao women, as they are known due to their red clothing, maintain very precise practices for how their hair is arranged and displayed. It’s cut only once, when a girl turns 18, and eventually becomes a gift to her husband when she marries. The way that she wears her hair indicates her family status. Messy Nessy Chic explains:

For example, if the hair is wrapped like a circular tray on top of her head, it means she is married but has no children. If she is married with children, she’ll wear a bun at the front of her wrapped style– perhaps to represent a baby bump? I’d like to think it’s a play on “bun in the oven”!

If she wears a scarf around her head, with her hair remaining hidden, it means she is looking for a husband, who traditionally, would be the only man with the privilege to see her hair in all its beauty. Nowadays, once she’s married at least, the people of Huangluo seem to be a little more comfortable with sharing that beauty with the world.

Indeed they are. Huangluo has become a popular tourist destination as people travel to see the famous Red Yao women and their luxurious hair. You can see more photos of them at Messy Nessy Chic.

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