Adventures in Guizhou Province, PRC.
Day 8 out and about....
We left Nanhua village where we had overnighted having been to a traditional bull fight on that day. Whilst a great experience our exposure of bull fighting in Guizhou was to continue….
We had arrived mid-morning, in what appeared to us as the middle of nowhere, the long night time drive through the drifting mountain mist and the seemingly never ending paddy fields broken when, with the rising sun, we finally came to a halt at the side of a field. Our guides said we should walk carefully along the edge of the field and after about half an hour we could see people lined along the edge, with others arriving from all directions. The women and the children were dressed predominantly in black clothes with ornate and elaborate silk brocade designs. The women’s hairstyles also were very elaborate, and featuring colourful jewellery, like bees circling a honey pot.
Joining the line of people on the banks we looked down onto a massive stone riverbed. In the riverbed was a large circle of men and in the middle two buffalo. A man wearing a red scarf looks is close to the two beasts, which are tethered by their rear legs, as we had seen in the ring the previous day. Clambering down the steep bank as a photographer this was too good an opportunity to miss, and clambering down the steep bank I made my way towards the bulls and the men who I think we're more curious by my arrival than I was of wanting to see what was going on. Looking back to the people on the high bank I waved back to my western friends and our Chinese hosts.
At that moment all hell broke loose and men were running in all directions. The source of the pandemonium was soon obvious: the two tethered buffalo were now untied and running amok. Through the quickly scattering circle of men one buffalo/bull was being pursued by the other, followed by the shouting men were desperately heading off in the other direction.
With camera clicking I ran with the crowd at which point the buffalo, with an almighty splash, ran into the river and everything came to an abrupt halt. The beast became much calmer with the effect of the water: maybe the cooling effect cooled their rage. With the occasional rolling of heads from the buffalo some men jumped into the water to retrieve the ropes and slowly the buffalo were manoeuvred out of the river back to the stone bed.
The circle was recreated and one of the buffalo was led away, again the reason was never made clear, maybe he had lost the fight – no one said and my English speaking guide was up the side of the riverbed bank. I caught up with the owner who was down the river having led the now very calm buffalo to a little hollow in the bank. I asked, with hand gestures, if I could take a photograph of him with his buffalo, to which he nodded his assent. My guide arrived and the man explained that years ago the buffalo would fight to death but nowadays the government didn't allow this. He told me that there is an overseer, a judge I suppose, and that the buffalo compete against each other, much like in football league match, and are eliminated one by one until there is an ultimate victor.
We retired to the village headman’s house and sat on small stools at a wooden table where we were treated to a marvellous hotpot dinner, which comprised of delicious sliced beef and pork and vegetables in a spicy soup.
The headman asked if we had enjoyed the lusheng activities and the day on the riverbank. I said it had been an exciting and invigorating day. Curious, I asked if this was a regular festival day and to my surprise he replied that because we had been to the riverbed event it was a matter of politeness to invite the westerners back to the village. I told him it was one of the most exciting and interesting events I had ever had in China.