Xijiang is a village in Eastern Guizhou, known as the largest Miao village in China. It bears the title 'thousand household village' and has a little over a thousand residential dwellings, which amounts to a population of over 5000, of which 99.5% are Miao. It is often quoted by researchers as a living fossil for the study of the Miao people's history and traditional culture. It is host to a number of festivals, particularly around the Chinese new year, where Miao from surrounding villages gather.
The dark wooden houses are laid out compactly over two adjacent spurs, at the base of which a river flows. From the entrance gate on the opposing hill, there is a spectacular view of the entire village. The village is situated within a deep valley in the protected LeiGongshan national park, and the surrounding countryside makes for hikes ranging from short to up to a few hours, into the surrounding rice fields and forested hills.
In the last few years, a good deal of money has been invested in restoring the houses to their original appearance, in an effort to designate the village as a tourist destination. As such, the main street and riverfront area are relatively new and host lines of stalls aimed at tourist revenue. A wander through the back streets and up the hillside, however, takes you into more authentically occupied spaces.