National Geographic : 1938 Sep
AMONG THE BIG KNOT LOIS OF HAINAN IN THE BAMBOO COUNTRY, FIVE-FOOT BUCKETS ARE USED INSTEAD OF JARS OR CANS Light, durable, easily fashioned, and well insulated, a length of bamboo is an admirable rival of the old oaken bucket, the empty oil tin, and the pottery water jar. This girl balances seven loads on a single shoulder pole. Missionaries call the Miaos "The Eternal Pioneers" because they move from clearing to clearing, leaving each when its fertility is gone. but to her eldest brother, who is her legal guardian in all matters. I happened to be at a village when such an announcement of formal marriage was being made. Lois for many days had been gathering from miles around to see the festival. This rigidly consisted of the bride's family killing a pig and two fowls (never more or less), providing rice wine for all the guests, and paying a dowry of two water buffalo, considerable rice, and a pig. After the feast the groom mounted one of his newly acquired beasts and with his bride behind him rode happily back to his own village. The bride, fifteen years old, was now entitled to tattoo her hands (legs and face are tattooed by all), assume charge of her husband's house and hold sway over his successive concubines. These usually number four, but only if the husband can afford so many and can get consent of the village headman and council. If a child dies, the body is kept four days, then buried. All this time iron and bronze gongs are struck to keep away the devil, and the villagers wail day and night. If an old man dies, the body is kept for eight or ten days and then buried. The graves are visited by the villagers each year and offerings are made. A Loi widow cannot return to her par ents. The Lois explained to me that this is supposed to discourage prostitution and looseness (which they frown upon) and to promote marriage. A widow must either marry again or else live alone in her hut. Women are considered the equal of men -and no woman need remain unmarried as the men look forward to catching not only a fine wife but a fine dowry as well! There is nothing in the Loi code resem bling divorce. When a child is born the village prays to the devil to have pity and let it live. Two fowls are "cut" on the twentieth birth day, the age of adulthood in men.