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Xinjie — Yuanyang Town / 5


Yi minority women and their firewood for sale along Yuanyang main street. [5]

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(Con’d)

The Hani people work all their lives in the terraced fields, and after death, their bodies are buried beside their terraced fields, allowing them to keep watch on their lands from the other world.

The Hani people have developed a set of scientific and rational methods of farming. They usually choose sunny and humid areas on gentle slopes for their terraced fields. Here, crops can escape from strong wind and insect and bird pests. During the first three years after the terraced fields are developed, the Hani farmers grow crops that do not need irrigation. Starting from the fourth year, they begin channeling water to the terraced fields, turning them into paddy fields.

The surfaces of terraced fields need to be flat, but there were no measuring instruments in ancient times, so how did the ancestors of the Hani people do it? They did it with the washing power of water, showing the great wisdom and creativity of the ancient Hani people.

After water, the fertilizer is the most important factor for growing rice. Utilizing the geographic condition of villages above and terraced fields below, the Hani people have invented a laborsaving method for channeling fertilizer. Every Hani village has public manure ponds for collecting stable dung. In spring, when people begin plowing their terraced fields, farmers dig the manure ponds out and pour manure with water down along a canal to the terraced fields. To make all the manure flow smoothly, people line up along the canal and use hoes and rakes to dredge the flow. At that moment, the whole village celebrates with great joy. All the villagers-men and women, young and old-feel elated, as if it were festival time. In fact, some already wear festival clothes.

Usually, the Hani people graze their cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep on the mountainsides, and a great deal of excrement piles up there. In June and July, when the heavy rains comes, the excrement is carried downward by rainwater to the terraced fields. At that time, the rice is growing and needs to be fertilized.

(Source: China-Pictorial)



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