Photographer's Note


Xinjie — Yuanyang Town / 4

This is Xinjie Market — or “old Yuanyang”. Mountains are especially distant from the markets for the goods the minority locals produce. Poor transport networks are reinforced by poor communications systems. Hani women used to walk at least 4 miles with a heavy load of tradable goods to town to sale as in this picture. As mentioned in my previous note, the discrimination against women in the Hani is very severe. So long as there are women, men never cook and feed pigs. Men are more free than women. They seldom help women to weed… Women are not worth mentioning in men’s eyes. They usually say: ‘Crab is not meat, women are not human beings.’ [4]



Standing on the top of a mountain 1,600 meters high, you will sigh in admiration at the magnificence of those terraced fields. But at the same time, you will wonder how the Hani people bring water for irrigation and daily use to such high elevations.

A saying of the Hani ethnic group goes that water can reach as high as any mountain. The arrangement of the Hani people for bringing water to where they need it will make you marvel at their wisdom. The locations where the Hani people have built their villages and opened their terraced fields are cleverly chosen between forests and river valleys. Above are dense forests. The small wooded areas- symbols of the village god- and the forests under the village's ownership are strictly protected, and villagers who want to cut trees must obtain approval beforehand.

Below are deep river valleys. Because of the high temperature in the river valleys, water vaporizes and forms clouds and fog. When the clouds and fog rise to the forests on the mountains, they are cooled down to water droplets by the tree branches and leaves. Numerous droplets come together and become streams, then flow downward. The Hani people draw stream water to their villages for daily use, and they channel water to irrigate their terraced fields. The forests, villages, terraced fields, and river valleys, one below the other, form an ecosystem that works day after day, year after year.

In fact, the terraced fields have become part of the life of every Hani person. The traditional child-naming ceremony of the Hani ethnic group shows us how. When a Hani child is born, the family members hold a ceremony. First, they draw squares on the ground in the courtyard to represent a terraced field. If the baby is a boy, then a 7- or 8-year-old boy will pretend to plow in the symbolic terraced field. If a girl, a 7- or 8-year-old girl will pretend to pick snails and mud eels in the field. Then, the child will receive a formal name and become a member of the village.

(To be cont’d)


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 125 N: 2331] (8456)
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