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Beautiful rice paddies in Yunnan(3)Yuanyang: Ancient Hani terraced fields

Updated:2018-06-17 14:18:23   english.yunnan.cn

Yuanyang County is under the jurisdiction of south Yunnan’s Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture where the magnificent and renowned Hani Terraced Fields was inscribed into the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage in 2013.

Yuanyang red rice was domesticated from wild rice by ancestors of the Hani people more than 1,300 years ago during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties. Today, Hani people living in Yuanyang County still stick to the traditional way of reserving seeds for planting. During every harvest, they find and reserve the longest and best ears of rice for next year’s planting. This method has been passed on generations.

Yuanyang red rice is mainly planted in the terraces cultivated on the mountain slopes. Looking down from the hillside, you will find a vast expanse of terraces running down to the river valley. Accordingly, there are more than 3,000 steps between the lower edge of the forest to the valley floor. 

Harvest time for red rice is around Mid-Autumn Festival. By then, mountain slopes are covered with golden rice and local villagers are busy harvesting. Looking down from the hillside, you can see some thatched huts in the fields, which are built by the villagers for taking a break during the harvest.

In winter, the villagers breed fish in the terraces, which are locally called “terrace fish”. It takes a year or years for the fish to grow over 10 centimeters long, but they are extraordinarily delicious with a sweet taste since they are naturally bred. During the heading stage, the villagers will breed ducklings in the fields. After harvest, the ducks will eat rice scattered in the fields, and they are called “terrace ducks”. 

Hani people believe in animism, and they think water is the source of life gifted by their deities. Forests and mountains are home to water, so only by protecting the forest can they receive clean water.(By Zhang Lin, Daguan Weekly) 

Keywords:   Yunnan Rice