Roaming around and singing one's heart in antiphonal style
The Miaos' marriage is mainly free marriage. Free marriage relationship is established step by step through "roaming around" (other titles are "Yaomalang", "Zuomei", "visiting villages", "meeting girls", "Wanbiao", "stepping the moon" in other places) and singing love songs in antiphonal style.
Roaming around is usually hold in big festivals like the Miao New Year, New Product Eating festival, the Slope-climbing festival, and slack seasons in farming. It has fixed site, such as slope and grassland near villages, riverbanks and reed pipe playing ground. When the time comes, young men from other villages come together near the young women's villages, and whistle or blow leaves or reed-pipes as the signal to invite girls to the roaming site. When they hear the signal, girls who have the mind to joining it deck themselves out and come to the roaming site. The young fellows welcome girls with passionate songs, and antiphonal singing begins between men and women. As the "Marrying fellows of our village" goes:
Men: Trees in your village are high, and every tree has the makings of ridgepoles.
Girls in your village are pretty, and everyone is charming.
If you have not married yet, marry fellows of our village.
If you are kind and diligent, life will not be bad.
Women: Trees in our village are low, and are hard to become ridgepoles.
Girls in our village are ugly, and will not be loved by anyone.
So they are not married, and they are waiting for their lovers.
If you don't mind, choose and take anyone you like.
Through antiphonal singing, they can know each other's working, living and family situations. If a girl has a mind on one of the men, and the man also has a good opinion of him, they would depart from the roaming site and sing and talk separately at a quiet place. After several times of contact, their affection increases. Then they would exchange mementos ("Diubabin"-transliteration of the Miao language), and decide their marriage secretly. Many Miao youngsters set up happy families through this way.
The Miao embroidery with skillful needlework <<
"Reed-pipes are indispensable to the Miaos." >>