washerwomen in fenghuang

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Fenghuang, Hunan province, 2008.

I saw a lot of locals washing their clothes in the river that snakes through the entire city. They would place their clothing on the stone steps leading into the water and beat at them with short, flattened wooden batons.

Fenghuang is a famous and exceptionally well-preserved ancient city in Hunan province, dating back to A.D.686, around the Ming dynasty. It’s currently on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. More than half of Fenghuang’s population is of Miao or Tujia ethnicity, two of China’s 56 officially recognized minority groups. This official recognition has implications in government regulations, like exemptions to the one-child policy.

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