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Miao people

Hmongb/Hmub/Xongb/ab Hmaob
Headdress of the Long-horn Miao—one of the small branches of Miao living in the 12 villages near Zhijin County (织金县), Guizhou Province of China
Total population
11–12 million
Regions with significant populations
China: 9,426,007(2010)
Vietnam: 787,604 (1999)
Laos: 460,000 (2005)
United States: 209,866 (2006)[1]
Thailand: 151,080 (2002)
France: 13,000 (including 3,000 in French Guiana)
Hmongic languages, language(s) of residential country(s)
Ua Dab. Minorities: Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism

The Miao (Chinese: ; pinyin: Miáo) is an ethnic group recognized by the government of China as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component groups of people, which include (with some variant spellings) Hmong, Hmub, Xong (Qo-Xiong), and A-Hmao.

The Chinese government has grouped these people and other non-Miao peoples together as one group, whose members may not necessarily be either linguistically or culturally related, though the majority are members of Miao-Yao language family, which includes the Hmong, Hmub, Xong, and A-Hmao and the majority do share cultural similarities. Because of the previous given reasons, many Miao peoples cannot communicate with each other in their mother tongues, and have different histories and cultures. A few groups designated as Miao by the PRC do not even agree that they belong to the ethnic group, though most Miao groups, such as the Hmong and Hmub, do agree with the collective grouping as a single ethnic group - Miao.

The Miao live primarily in southern China's mountains, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei. Some members of the Miao sub-groups, most notably the Hmong people, have migrated out of China into Southeast Asia (northern Vietnam, Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand). Following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975, a large group of Hmong refugees resettled in several Western nations, mainly in the United States, France, and Australia. There has been a recent tendency by Hmong Americans to group all Miao peoples together under the term Hmong because of their disdain for the Chinese term Miao. This however fails to recognize that the Hmong are only a subgroup within the broader linguistic and cultural family of Miao people and the vast majority of Miao people do not classify themselves as Hmong and have their own names for themselves.

Miao people
Chinese 苗族


  • Nomenclature: Miao and Hmong 1
  • Demographics 2
  • History 3
    • History according to Chinese legend and other considerations 3.1
    • Archaeological discoveries 3.2
    • Chu 3.3
    • Qin and Han dynasties 3.4
    • Ming and Qing dynasties 3.5
    • 20th century 3.6
  • Distribution 4
    • By province 4.1
    • By county 4.2
  • Cuisine 5
    • Miao Fish (苗鱼 miáo yǘ) 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
    • Citations 7.1
    • Sources 7.2
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Nomenclature: Miao and Hmong

Miao musicians from the Langde Miao Ethnic Village, Guizhou.
Miao girls also from Lang De, Guizhou, awaiting their turn to perform.
Young Miao woman in Yangshuo County.

The term "Miao" gained official status in 1949 as a minzu (ethnic group) encompassing a group of linguistically-related ethnic minorities in Southwest China. This was part of a larger effort to identify and classify minority groups to clarify their role in the national government, including establishing autonomous administrative divisions and allocating the seats for representatives in provincial and national government.[2]

Historically, the term "Miao" had been applied inconsistently to a variety of non-Han peoples. Early Western writers used Chinese-based names in various transcriptions: Miao, Miao-tse, Miao-tsze, Meau, Meo, mo, miao-tseu etc. In Southeast Asian contexts words derived from the Chinese "Miao" took on a sense which was perceived as derogatory by the Hmong subgroup living in that region. In China, however, the term has no such context and is used by the Miao people themselves, of every group.[3]

The later prominence of Hmong people in the West has led to a situation where the entire Miao linguistic/cultural family is sometimes referred to as Hmong in English language sources. Following the recent increased interaction of Hmong in the West with Miao in China it is reported that some upwardly aspiring non-Hmong Miao have even begun to identify themselves as Hmong.[3] However, most non-Hmong Miao in China are unfamiliar with the term as referring to their entire group and continue to use "Miao", or their own separate ethnic self-designations.

Though the Miao themselves use various self-designations, the Chinese traditionally classify them according to the most characteristic colour of the women's clothes. The list below contains some of these self-designations, the colour designations, and the main regions inhabited by the four major groups of Miao in China:

  • Ghao Xong/Qo Xiong; Xong; Red Miao; Qo Xiong Miao: west Hunan
  • Gha Ne/Ka Nao; Hmub; Black Miao; Mhub Miao: southeast Guizhou
  • A-Hmao; Big Flowery Miao: west Guizhou and northeast Yunnan
  • Gha-Mu; Hmong, Mong; White Miao, Green/Blue Miao, Small Flowery Miao; south and east Yunnan, south Sichuan and west Guizhou


Miao women during market day in Laomeng village, Yuanyang County, Yunnan, China
Detail from Stielers Hand-Atlas, 1891, showing a "Miao-tse" enclave between Guiyang and Guilin

According to the 2000 census, the number of Miao in China was estimated to be about 9.6 million. Outside of China, members of the Miao linguistic/cultural family sub-group or nations of the Hmong live in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Burma due to outward migrations starting in the 18th century. As a result of recent migrations in the aftermath of the Indochina and Vietnam Wars from 1949–75, many Hmong people now live in the United States, French Guiana, France and Australia. Altogether, there are approximately 8 million speakers in the Miao language family. This language family, which consists of 6 languages and around 35 dialects (some of which are mutually intelligible) belongs to the Hmong/Miao branch of the Hmong–Mien (Miao–Yao) language family.

The Hmong live primarily in the northern mountainous reaches of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, and in far Southwest China mostly in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi, and to a very limited extend in Guizhou. There are about 1.5-2 million Hmong in China.

Note: The Miao areas of Sichuan province became part of the newly created Chongqing Municipality in 1997.

Most Miao currently live in China. Miao population growth in China:

  • 1953: 2,510,000
  • 1964: 2,780,000
  • 1982: 5,030,000
  • 1990: 7,390,000

3,600,000 Miao, about half of the entire Chinese Miao population, were in Guizhou in 1990. The Guizhou Miao and those in the following six provinces make up over 98% of all Chinese Miao:

In the above provinces, there are 6 Miao autonomous prefectures (shared officially with one other ethnic minority):

There are in addition 23 Miao autonomous counties:

  • Hunan:Mayang (麻阳 : Máyáng), Jingzhou (靖州 : Jīngzhōu), and Chengbu (城步 : Chéngbù)
  • Guizhou: Songtao (松桃 : Sōngtáo), Yingjiang (印江 : Yìnjiāng), Wuchuan (务川 : Wùchuān), Daozhen (道真 : Dǎozhēn), Zhenning (镇宁 : Zhènníng), Ziyun (紫云 : Zǐyún), Guanling (关岭 : Guānlíng), and Weining (威宁 : Wēiníng)
  • Yunnan: Pingbian (屏边 : Píngbiān), Jinping (金平 : Jīnpíng), and Luquan (禄劝 : Lùquàn)
  • Chongqing: Xiushan (秀山 : Xiùshān), Youyang (酉阳 : Yǒuyáng), Qianjiang (黔江 : Qiánjiāng), and Pengshui (彭水 : Péngshuǐ)
  • Guangxi: Rongshui (融水 : Róngshuǐ), Longsheng (龙胜 : Lóngshēng), and Longlin (隆林 : Lōnglín) (including Hmong)
  • Hainan Province: Qiong (琼中 : Qióngzhōng) and Baoting (保亭 : Bǎotíng)

Most Miao reside in hills or on mountains, such as

  • Wuling Mountain by the Qianxiang River (湘黔川边的武陵山 : Xiāngqián Chuān Biān Dí Wǔlíng Shān)
  • Miao Mountain (苗岭 : Miáo Líng), Qiandongnan
  • Yueliang Mountain (月亮山 : Yuèliàng Shān), Qiandongnan
  • Greater and Lesser Ma Mountain (大小麻山 : Dà Xiǎo Má Shān), Qiannan
  • Greater Miao Mountain (大苗山 : Dà Miáo Shān), Guangxi
  • Wumeng Mountain by the Tianqian River (滇黔川边的乌蒙山 : Tiánqián Chuān Biān Dí Wūmēng Shān)

Several thousands of Miao left their homeland to move to larger cities like Guangzhou and Beijing. There are 2,000,000 Hmong spread throughout northern Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and on other continents. 174,000 live in Thailand, where they are one of the six main hill tribes.

Young ethnic Miao boy in Guizhou, China 
Traditional Miao Boat used to travel down rapids for trading goods. 
Traditional Miao irrigation system made entirely of wood planks (Yunnan Province) 


The migration of the Hmong according to legend.

History according to Chinese legend and other considerations

According to Chinese legend, the Miao who descended from the Jiuli tribe led by Chiyou (Chinese: 蚩尤 pinyin: Chīyóu) were defeated at the Battle of Zhuolu (Chinese: 涿鹿 pinyin: Zhuōlù, a defunct prefecture on the border of present provinces of Hebei and Liaoning) by the military coalition of Huang Di (Chinese: 黃帝 pinyin: Huángdì) and Yan Di, leaders of the Huaxia (Chinese: 華夏 pinyin: Huáxià) tribe as the two tribes struggled for supremacy of the Yellow River valley.

Archaeological discoveries

Rice terrace farming in Longji, Guangxi, China.

According to

  • Hmong Studies Internet Resource Center
  • An Album of the Miao Minority from 1786
  • Map share of ethnic by county of China

External links

  • Ch'ien Lung (emperor of China.) (1810). The conquest of the Miao-tse, an imperial poem ... entitled A choral song of harmony for the first part of the Spring [tr.] by S. Weston, from the Chinese. Translated by Stephen Weston. LONDON: Printed & Sold by C. & R. Baldwin, New Bridge Street, Black Friars. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 

Further reading

  • Enwall, Jaokim. Thai-Yunnan Project Newsletter, No. 17, Department of Anthropology, Australian National University, June 1992.
  • Schein, Louisa (2000). Minority Rules: The Miao and the Feminine in China's Cultural Politics (illustrated, reprint ed.). Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.  
  • Gina Corrigan (2001). Miao textiles from China. Seattle: University of Washington Press.  
  • Nicholas Tapp, (2002). The Hmong of China: Context, Agency, and the Imaginary. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers.  
  • Nicholas Tapp, Jean Michaud, Christian Culas, Gary Yia Lee, ed. (2004). Hmong/Miao in Asia. Silkworm Books.  
  • David Deal and Laura Hostetler (2006). The Art of Ethnography: a Chinese "Miao Album". Seattle: University of Washington Press.  
  • Jin Dan (Contributor), Xueliang Ma (Contributor), Mark Bender (Translator) (2006). Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou, China. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.  
  • Thomas Vang (2008). A History of The Hmong: From Ancient Times to the Modern Diaspora.  


  1. ^ 2006 Southeast Asian American Data from the American Community Survey
  2. ^ Schein, Louisa. "The Miao in contemporary China." In The Hmong in transition. Edited by Hendricks, G. L., Downing, B. T., & Deinard, A. S. Staten Island: Center for migration studies (1986): 73-85.
  3. ^ a b Tapp, Nicholas. "Cultural Accommodations in Southwest China: the 'Han Miao' and Problems in the Ethnography of the Hmong." Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 61, 2002: 77-104.
  4. ^ Haudricourt, Andre and Strecker. "Hmong–Mien (Miao–Yao) Loans in Chinese". T'uong Pao, Vol. 77, Numbers 4-5, (1991): 335-341
  5. ^ Wen, Bo; Li, Hui; Gao, Song; Mao, Xianyun; Gao, Yang; Li, Feng; Zhang, Feng; He, Yungang; Dong, Yongli; Zhang, Youjun; Huang, Wenju; Jin, Jianzhong; Xiao, Chunjie; Lu, Daru; Chakraborty, Ranajit; Su, Bing; Deka, Ranjan; Jin, Li. "Genetic Structure of (H)mong-Mien Speaking Populations in East Asia as Revealed by mtDNA Lineages", Oxford Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution (2005) 22 (3): 725-734. doi:10.1093/molbev/msi055
  6. ^ Crawford, G. W., X. Chen, and J. Wang Houli Culture Rice from the Yuezhuang Site, Jinan. Kaogu [Archaeology] 3:247-251, 2006. (In Chinese)
  7. ^
  8. ^ Chu Language Rhymes at University of Massachusetts Amherst
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Frederick W. Mote, Denis Twitchett, John King Fairbank (1988). The Cambridge history of China: The Ming dynasty, 1368-1644, Part 1. Cambridge University Presslocation=. p. 380.  
  11. ^ Shih-shan Henry Tsai (1996). The eunuchs in the Ming dynasty. SUNY Press. p. 16.  
  12. ^ Xiong, Yuepheng L. "Chinese Odyssey: Summer Program offers Students rare opportunity to learn Hmong history in China",
  13. ^ Elleman, Bruce A. (2001). "The Miao Revolt (1795–1806)". Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989. London: Routledge. pp. 7–8.  
  14. ^ Contributions to Southeast Asian ethnography, Issue 7. Board of Editors, Contributions to Southeast Asian Ethnography. 1988. p. 99. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  15. ^ Dan Jin, Xueliang Ma, Mark Bender (2006). Butterfly mother: Miao (Hmong) creation epics from Guizhou, China. Hackett Publishing. p. xvii.  
  16. ^ Lee, Mai Na M. (2005). The dream of the Hmong kingdom: resistance, collaboration, and legitimacy under French colonialism (1893-1955). University of Wisconsin--Madison. p. 149. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. ^ Nevison, Leslie. "In Search of a Hmong King"



See also

Miao fish is a special way of cooking a fish by Miao people. It has been recognized as a local featured cuisine with its tasty flavor: the mixture of fish, green peppers, ginger slices and garlic provided people with great eating experience.

Miao Fish (苗鱼 miáo yǘ)


Province-level division Prefecture-level division County-level division Miao population % of mainland China's
Miao population
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Kaili City (凯里市) 274,238 3.07%
Chongqing Municipality none Pengshui Miao and Tujia A. C. (彭水苗族土家族自治县) 273,488 3.06%
Hunan Huaihua City Mayang Miao A. C. (麻阳苗族自治县) 263,437 2.95%
Guizhou Tongren City Songtao Miao A. C. (松桃苗族自治县) 228,718 2.56%
Hunan Huaihua City Yuanling County (沅陵县) 217,613 2.43%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Huayuan County (花垣县) 192,138 2.15%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Fenghuang County (凤凰县) 185,111 2.07%
Hunan Shaoyang City Suining County (绥宁县) 184,784 2.07%
Guangxi Zhuang A. R. Liuzhou City Rongshui Miao A. C. (融水苗族自治县) 168,591 1.89%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Huangping County (黄平县) 161,211 1.8%
Guizhou Zunyi City Wuchuan Gelao and Miao A. C. (务川仡佬族苗族自治县) 157,350 1.76%
Hunan Shaoyang City Chengbu Miao A. C. (城步苗族自治县) 136,943 1.53%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Taijiang County (台江县) 135,827 1.52%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Congjiang County (从江县) 129,626 1.45%
Guizhou Liupanshui City Shuicheng County (水城县) 126,319 1.41%
Hunan Huaihua City Jingzhou Miao and Dong A. C. (靖州苗族侗族自治县) 114,641 1.28%
Guizhou Anshun City Ziyun Miao and Buyei A. C. (紫云苗族布依族自治县) 114,444 1.28%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Jianhe County (剑河县) 112,950 1.26%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Jishou City (吉首市) 112,856 1.26%
Guizhou Tongren City Sinan County (思南县) 112,464 1.26%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Leishan County (雷山县) 110,413 1.24%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Luxi County (泸溪县) 107,301 1.2%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Tianzhu County (天柱县) 106,387 1.19%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Danzhai County (丹寨县) 104,934 1.17%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Rongjiang County (榕江县) 96,503 1.08%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Huishui County (惠水县) 91,215 1.02%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Guangnan County (广南县) 88,444 0.99%
Chongqing Municipality none Youyang Tujia and Miao A. C. (酉阳土家族苗族自治县) 85,182 0.95%
Guangxi Zhuang A. R. Bose City Longlin Various Nationalities A. C. (隆林各族自治县) 84,617 0.95%
Guizhou Bijie City Zhijin County (织金县) 81,029 0.91%
Yunnan Honghe Hani and Yi A. P. Jinping Miao, Yao, and Dai A. C. (金平苗族瑶族傣族自治县) 80,820 0.9%
Guizhou Anshun City Xixiu District (西秀区) 79,906 0.89%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Jinping County (锦屏县) 78,441 0.88%
Guizhou Zunyi City Daozhen Gelao and Miao A. C. (道真仡佬族苗族自治县) 76,658 0.86%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Liping County (黎平县) 75,718 0.85%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Maguan County (马关县) 73,833 0.83%
Guizhou Bijie City Nayong County (纳雍县) 72,845 0.81%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Duyun City (都匀市) 71,011 0.79%
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao A. P. Laifeng County (来凤县) 70,679 0.79%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Majiang County (麻江县) 68,847 0.77%
Chongqing Municipality none Xiushan Tujia and Miao A. C. (秀山土家族苗族自治县) 66,895 0.75%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Shibing County (施秉县) 66,890 0.75%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Qiubei County (丘北县) 66,826 0.75%
Guizhou Guiyang City Huaxi District (花溪区) 62,827 0.7%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Longshan County (龙山县) 61,709 0.69%
Guizhou Bijie City Qianxi County (黔西县) 60,409 0.68%
Yunnan Honghe Hani and Yi A. P. Pingbian Miao A. C. (屏边苗族自治县) 60,312 0.67%
Guizhou Bijie City Weining Yi, Hui, and Miao A. C. (威宁彝族回族苗族自治县) 60,157 0.67%
Chongqing Municipality none Qianjiang District (黔江区) 59,705 0.67%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Baojing County (保靖县) 57,468 0.64%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Wenshan County (文山县) 57,303 0.64%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Guzhang County (古丈县) 54,554 0.61%
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao A. P. Lichuan City (利川市) 53,590 0.6%
Guizhou Qianxinan Buyei and Miao A. P. Qinglong County (晴隆县) 53,205 0.6%
Guangxi Zhuang A. R. Liuzhou City Sanjiang Dong A. C. (三江侗族自治县) 53,076 0.59%
Guizhou Bijie City Dafang County (大方县) 52,547 0.59%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Yanshan County (砚山县) 51,624 0.58%
Guizhou Liupanshui City Liuzhi Special District (六枝特区) 50,833 0.57%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Changshun County (长顺县) 48,902 0.55%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Fuquan City (福泉市) 48,731 0.55%
Yunnan Honghe Hani and Yi A. P. Mengzi County (蒙自县) 48,132 0.54%
Guizhou Tongren City Bijiang District (碧江区) 47,080 0.53%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Malipo County (麻栗坡县) 45,655 0.51%
Yunnan Zhaotong City Yiliang County (彝良县) 44,736 0.5%
Guizhou Anshun City Pingba County (平坝县) 44,107 0.49%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Sandu Shui A. C. (三都水族自治县) 43,464 0.49%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Guiding County (贵定县) 42,450 0.47%
Guizhou Tongren City Yinjiang Tujia and Miao A. C. (印江土家族苗族自治县) 42,431 0.47%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Longli County (龙里县) 40,096 0.45%
Guizhou Guiyang City Qingzhen City (清镇市) 39,845 0.45%
Guizhou Qianxinan Buyei and Miao A. P. Wangmo County (望谟县) 39,491 0.44%
Guizhou Bijie City Qixingguan District (七星关区) 38,508 0.43%
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao A. P. Yongshun County (永顺县) 37,676 0.42%
Guizhou Bijie City Hezhang County (赫章县) 37,128 0.42%
Yunnan Zhaotong City Weixin County (威信县) 36,293 0.41%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Sansui County (三穗县) 35,745 0.4%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Luodian County (罗甸县) 35,463 0.4%
Guizhou Anshun City Zhenning Buyei and Miao A. C. (镇宁布依族苗族自治县) 34,379 0.38%
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao A. P. Xuan'en County (宣恩县) 34,354 0.38%
Hunan Huaihua City Huitong County (会同县) 33,977 0.38%
Guizhou Qianxinan Buyei and Miao A. P. Anlong County (安龙县) 32,926 0.37%
Guizhou Bijie City Jinsha County (金沙县) 31,884 0.36%
Sichuan Luzhou City Xuyong County (叙永县) 30,362 0.34%
Guizhou Anshun City Puding County (普定县) 30,254 0.34%
Sichuan Yibin City Xingwen County (兴文县) 30,020 0.34%
Guizhou Anshun City Guanling Buyei and Miao A. C. (关岭布依族苗族自治县) 29,746 0.33%
Guangxi Zhuang A. R. Bose City Xilin County (西林县) 28,967 0.32%
Guangxi Zhuang A. R. Guilin City Ziyuan County (资源县) 27,827 0.31%
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao A. P. Xianfeng County (咸丰县) 27,668 0.31%
Guizhou Guiyang City Nanming District (南明区) 27,460 0.31%
Yunnan Zhaotong City Zhenxiong County (镇雄县) 26,963 0.3%
Yunnan Wenshan Zhuang and Miao A. P. Funing County (富宁县) 26,396 0.3%
Guangdong Dongguan City Dongguan District (东莞市辖区) 26,241 0.29%
Guizhou Tongren City Jiangkou County (江口县) 25,588 0.29%
Guizhou Liupanshui City Pan County (盘县) 25,428 0.28%
Guangxi Zhuang A. R. Guilin City Longsheng Various Nationalities A. C. (龙胜各族自治县) 24,841 0.28%
Guizhou Qianxinan Buyei and Miao A. P. Xingren County (兴仁县) 24,130 0.27%
Hunan Huaihua City Zhijiang Dong A. C. (芷江侗族自治县) 23,698 0.27%
Yunnan Honghe Hani and Yi A. P. Kaiyuan City (开远市) 23,504 0.26%
Guizhou Qianxinan Buyei and Miao A. P. Zhenfeng County (贞丰县) 23,054 0.26%
Guizhou Qiannan Buyei and Miao A. P. Pingtang County (平塘县) 22,980 0.26%
Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong A. P. Zhenyuan County (镇远县) 22,883 0.26%
Guizhou Qianxinan Buyei and Miao A. P. Pu'an County (普安县) 22,683 0.25%
Guizhou Guiyang City Wudang District (乌当区) 22,468 0.25%
Other areas of mainland China 1,246,040 13.94%

(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >0.25% of mainland China's Miao population.)

County-level distribution of the Miao in mainland China

By county

Province-level division % of mainland China's
Miao population
% of provincial total
Guizhou Province 48.10% 12.199%
Hunan Province 21.49% 3.037%
Yunnan Province 11.67% 2.463%
Chongqing Municipality 5.62% 1.647%
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 5.18% 1.056%
Hubei Province 2.40% 0.360%
Sichuan Province 1.65% 0.179%
Guangdong Province 1.35% 0.142%
Hainan Province 0.69% 0.810%
Others 1.85% ?
Provincial distribution of the Miao in mainland China

The 2000 Chinese census recorded 8,940,116 Miao in mainland China.

By province


In Vietnam, a powerful Hmong named Vuong Chinh Duc, dubbed the king of the Hmong, aided Ho Chi Minh's nationalist move against the French, and thus secured the Hmong's position in Vietnam.[17] During the Vietnam War, Miao fought on both sides, the Hmong in Laos primarily for the US, across the border in Vietnam for the North-Vietnam coalition, the Chinese-Miao for the Communists. However after the war the Vietnamese were very aggressive towards the Hmong who suffered many years of reprisals and genocide. Most Hmong in Thailand also supported a brief Communist uprising during the war.

During the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Miao played an important role in its birth when they helped Mao Zedong to escape the Kuomintang in the Long March with supplies and guides through their territory.

20th century

Politically and militarily, the Miao continued to be a stone in the shoe of the Chinese empire. The imperial government had to rely on political means to ensnare Hmong people, they created multiple competing positions of substantial prestige for Miao people to participate and assimilate into the Qing government system. During the Ming and Qing times, the official position of Kiatong was created in Indochina. The Miao would employ the use of the Kiatong government structure until the 1900s when they entered into French colonial politics in Indochina.

During Qing times, more military garrisons were established in southwest China. Han Chinese soldiers moved into the Taijiang region of Guizhou, married Miao women, and the children were brough up as Miao.[14][15] In spite of rebellion against the Han, Hmong leaders made allies with Han merchants.[16]

The greatest of the three wars occurred from 1854 to 1873. Zhang Xiu-mei led this revolt in Guizhou until his capture and death in Changsha, Hunan. This revolt affected over one million people and all the neighbouring provinces. By the time the war ended Professor Wu said only 30 percent of the Miao were left in their home regions. This defeat led to the Hmong people migrating out of China.

The second war (1795–1806) involved the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan. Shi Sanbao and Shi Liudeng led this second revolt. Again, it ended in failure, but it took 11 years to quell the uprising.[13]

During the Qing Dynasty the Miao fought three wars against the empire.[12] In 1735 in the southeastern province of Guizhou, the Miao rose up against the government's forced assimilation. Eight counties involving 1,224 villages fought until 1738 when the revolt ended. According to Xiangtan University Professor Wu half the Miao population were affected by the war.

A Qing-era painting depicting a government campaign against the Miao in Hunan, 1795.

During the Miao Rebellions, when Miao tribes rebelled, Ming troops, including Han chinese, Hui people, and Uyghurs crushed the rebels, killing thousands of them.[9][10] Mass castrations of Miao boys also took place.[11]

During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911) 'miao' and 'man' were both used, the second possibly to designate the Yao (傜 Yáo) people. The Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties could neither fully assimilate nor control the indigenous people.

Ming and Qing dynasties

The term Miao was first used by the Han Chinese in pre-Qin times (in other words, before 221 BC) for designating non-Han Chinese groups in the south. It was often used in combination: "nanmiao", "miaomin", "youmiao" and "sanmiao" (三苗; pinyin: Sānmiáo)

Qin and Han dynasties

In 2002, the Chu language has been identified as perhaps having influence from Tai–Kam and Miao–Yao languages by researchers at University of Massachusetts Amherst.[8]


A Western Han painting on silk near Changsha in Hunan province.

A western study mention that the Miao (especially the Miao-Hunan) have some DNA from the Northeast people of China, but has origins in southern china. Recent DNA samples of Miao males contradict this theory. The White Hmong have 25% C, 8% D, & 6% N(Tat)[7] yet they have the least contact with the Han population.

[6] has been credited with being amongst the first cultivators of rice in the Far East by Western scholars. However, in 2006 rice cultivation was found in the Shandong province even earlier than the Daxi Culture.Daxi Culture The [5] They claim that the Han borrowed a lot of words from the Miao in regard to rice farming. This indicated that the Miao were among the first rice farmers in China. In addition, some have connected the Miao to the Daxi Culture (5,300 - 6,000 years ago) in the middle Yangtze River region.[4]

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