Hui'an women, a special group residing in Hui'an County of Quanzhou (Huidong Peninsula), are well-known for their distinct dresses and hard-working custom. Narrowly speaking, Hui'an women refer to women on the Huidong Peninsula, mainly in four towns in the east of Hui'an - Chongwu, Shanxia, Jingfeng and Xiaozuo, and they are actually part of a distinct Han Chinese community. Their yellow conical hats are just like UFO in the ancient times, flying through the time to modern days. To be more precise, Hui'an women don't include all women in Hui'an, but are limited to those growing up in coastal areas of Chongwu in the east of Hui'an.
Shuttle buses are always available from Hui'an Country to Chongwu Fortress in the southeast coast of Fujian (40-minute drive). Chongwu faces sea in three sides (except the west side) and starts from the winding Smoky Mountains in terrain, presenting magnificent sceneries. Sandwiched between Meizhou Bay and Quanzhou Bay, and facing the Taiwan Strait on the east, Chongwu has always been a town of great military importance because there are plenty of small islands and rocks in the nearby waters. It is no doubt a strategic national defence stronghold of obvious defensive advantages.
Stone carving is the soul of Chongwu. Stone carvings in different shapes are seen almost everywhere, and these witness of early days tell quietly today memories of past days. Dwellings here, whether stone houses, red-brick houses or wooden houses, are very simple without much decoration. These buildings of different ages reveal imprints of time, recording stories of local soldiers and civilians who bravely resisted aggression and protected our coastal territories in the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Walking along narrow lanes hidden in the blocks of dwellings, you can find that doors of old houses are open all the day and local people live a leisure life.
In Dazuo Village of Chongwu Town, we saw some Hui'an women in their old ages. They sat beside a bucket full of oyster, skilfully unclenching oyster shell. They cover their heads and cheeks with yellow conical hats and white scarves (floral prints), and wear short cyan jackets and skin tight black hiphuggers which flare out at the legs with bellies exposed and silver chains around their waist. The unique costume as well as head wear and bright red ties in their braids have caught our eyes immediately. They wear their hair in bun and cover it with colourful scarves on which there are patterns embroidered with red, yellow, blue and green beads. This dynamic and colourful scene is a big contrast to their wrinkled faces. Though black and rough in skin, these Hui'an women have persistent and experienced looks. Seen from far way or from the back, these women are in good shape, and reveal a breath of vibrant youth in their every move.
At that moment, these elements seem conjure up a picture: these women are standing on the rocks and waiting for the return of their husbands. Their fit body are tested by sea breeze, and look dignified, just like a part of rocks they are standing. There is a Chinese saying that women are made of water, but I think Hui'an women are strong just like stones. When their husbands are out for fishing and business, they bear burdens from family life: doing farm work and taking care of the old and children. All errands are put on their weak shoulders.
Hui'an women are scenery of Chongwu, and they are what make Chongwu a beautiful town. In the China Stonework Exposition Park of Chongwu, there is a set of Hui'an women statues. When I looked at the famous Hui'an Women Statue, I realized that these stones just signify hard-working and perseverance of Hui'an women. They are works of our great mother nature, and what they demonstrate in appearance, shape and temperament is the truth of winds and waves. They are destined to become sceneries and even a legend, from head ware, embroiders on their pants to sands and rocks touched by their feet...
Dazuo is 100 km away from Xiamen. Shuttle bus from Xiamen to Chongwu departs every hour, and that from Chongwu to Dazuo are always available.