Freedom of marriage also exists in Miao ethnic group
The Miao ethnic group practices monogamy in the family. When men are grown up, they can get married and set up small families. Parents can decide their children's marriages, or men and women can be free to find their own partners.
Parents Decide Partners
In marriages among this ethnic group when parents decide marriage partners, the women are usually older than the men. When a girl is merely several years old, the parents of a boy would give a suit of skirt to the girl as a gift for her life. They are generally relatives. Until the woman is old enough to get married, the man's parents should give some money to the woman's parents. The woman’s parents in return should give an ox or a pig as the marriage gift so that the woman could raise it when she lives in the man's family.
Free to Choose
There are different forms of free marriage in the Miao ethnic group. The young men and women usually choose their partners by singing songs. If a man takes a fancy to a woman, he opens his umbrella to cover the woman. At the beginning, the man should sing songs to the woman to show his love. If the woman also has feelings for the man, she will sing songs in response. In the contrary, the woman will keep silent if she decides she is not interested in the man.
The love songs are almost adapted to the depth of the love. At first, they usually ask about the natural conditions and social customs of their hometown. Gradually, they begin to talk about their names, ages and the family background. They try to make clear if they already have a lover. From songs to dialogues, they get to know each other gradually. And days later, they will decide on their relationship.
If they find each other congenial, the man will ask his parents to ask a third party to make a proposal of marriage. If the parents don't allow the marriage, the woman will elope with her lover. Before the wedding, the man usually presents the woman with silver accessories such as silver neckbands.