Ancient Chinese Village of Long-Haired Rapunzels
There's an ancient settlement in Huangluo, China called the "Long Hair Village" and for the Yao minority women of the village, hair is their most prized possession.
They grow their hair up to 6.8 feet long, and manage to keep it healthy, strong and free of greys well into their old age. They consider their hair so sacred that until recently, no one was allowed to look at a woman’s loose locks except her husband and children.
Hair swishing is definitely a no-no. If a local or traveller caught a glimpse of a woman's loose locks, he would be forced to spend 3 years as the woman's husband.
This rule was finally scrapped in the late 1980s as the booming tourism became a major source of income for the village.
The women of Huangluo can only cut their hair once in their lives -- on their 18th birthday. The chopped hair is then given to the girl’s grandmother to be made into an ornamental headpiece.
It’s at this time, with an ear-length haircut that the young woman is supposed to begin looking for a husband. When she marries, the hair is to given as a gift the groom, and later becomes a part of his wife's everyday hairdo.
Nowadays, once a woman gets married at least, the people of Huangluo seem to be a little more comfortable with exposing their hair to the world.
Alongside regular day jobs and duties in the Yao village of 82 households and 400 villagers, Rapunzel-haired women sing and perform in groups a few times a day, displaying their long hair for tourists, earning over $300 a month during high season.
One might say that the idea of hair extensions originally came from the Yao women, whose hair is actually made of three parts: her own hair, the chopped off hair from before her wedding, and the third is made from the falling strands of hair, which are collected and and cared for every day.
All three is expertly wrapped in an elaborate hairstyle. Different hairstyles also represent the varying social status of the woman.
If the hair is wrapped like a round tray on top of her head, it means she's married but has no children.
If she wears a scarf around her head, hiding her hair, it means she is looking for a husband, who traditionally, would be the only man allowed to see her hair.
If she's a married woman with children, she’ll have a bun at the front of her wrapped style.
As for the secret of their strong healthy hair, they wash with fermented rice water -- that milky-colored liquid left over from rinsing or boiling rice. It’s been the secret to beautiful hair for these village women as well as imperial princesses in the East since ancient times.