Hunan is one of the provinces with the most minorities. Various minority customs forms the major characteristic of Hunan.

Climbing the knife ladder

Climbing knife ladder is a soul stirring performance which shows the striving and self-sacrifice of the people. It also shows the old life of the Miao people. The performance is held during every important festival. Climbing the knife ladder requires guts, technique and gest. Performers use their naked hands and feet to rapidly climb the knife ladder from the bottom to the top. When they reach the top of the knife ladder, they will play some highly difficult movements.

Crying Marriage

The custom of crying marriage existed a long time ago in many areas of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, especially the Tujia ethnic group, and remained in vogue until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The bride may cry in different ways with diversified words, which was also called "Crying Marriage Song"; the somewhat exaggerated singing helps to enhance the wedding atmosphere. In a word, crying at wedding is a way by custom to set off the happiness of the wedding via falsely sorrowful words.

Women’s Script

Jiangyong Nvshu (women's script), the only gender character in the world, is specially used by women. Its development, inheritance and cultural messages carried by its characters constitute Nvshu custom. Jiangyong Nvshu is an ancient character of long-diamond-shape with fine and uniform strokes, looking like mosquitoes or ants. The inheritance ways of Nvshu are as follows: family teaching, private tutoring, mutual learning, and self-study. Nvshu is mainly written on manuscript paper with cloth cover, scraps of paper, surface of fans, handkerchiefs, ribbons, etc.

Lantern Opera

Lantern Opera is a local opera popular in South Hunan since the Ming Dynasty. The performing of Lantern Opera integrates the essence of folk dance, martial arts and storytelling. It requires singing and dancing at the same time and involves coordinated movement of the mouth, eyes, body and steps. There are about 200 repertoires of the Lantern Opera. The Opera tells stories about the life of the working people and critics of the feudal society. The Opera is humorous and full of local characteristics which is easy to be accepted by the majority.

Hand-waving Dance

Hand-waving Dance is a traditional dance favored by the Tujia people. The dance is usually performed from the third to the seventeenth day of the first lunar month. It originates from an ancestor worship ceremony and dates back nearly 1,000 years ago, according to the broken stele in the Temple of Eight Clan Leaders (Qing Dynasty) and the county annals. The Tujia nationality hand-waving dance integrates singing, dancing, music and opera elements. It presents numerous topics concerning history and human existence, including the creation of the world, human reproduction, migration, hunting & fishing, sericulture & weaving, slash-and-burn cultivation, ancient stories, myths and legends, and daily life.