Longji's Terraced Rice Fields
Trip Start Jun 10, 2011
1Trip End Jun 10, 2011
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The terraced rice fields were built over 1,000 years ago by the Zhuang, Dong, and Yao Ethnic Minority Groups. At that time they were being persecuted by the Han Chinese, so they fled up into the mountains. Being agrarian societies, they knew no other way of living than by farming, so they turned the entire mountain range into their farm fields
Located on this section was a single large village. Because it was built on a mountainside, the buildings were built on different levels, which was very picturesque. There was a labyrinth of stone paved paths which lead to the different levels and between houses. It was really fun to explore. The village was built over a stream that was fed from a spring on the top of the mountain. The water flowed through the villages and in some instances, under houses. The village used the water for cleaning, cooking, and for powering machines. I saw a mill which was grinding rice flour. It was powered by a water wheel which was connected to wooden gears
The houses are built entirely of wood with grey tile roofs. There are no metal fasteners used in their construction. They are held together by ingenious design. Gravity, and tongue and groove construction keep them together for generations. The village’s buildings are fixed as they wear, so each one has areas that are ancient and others which are new, which sort of make a patchwork feel to them. The lower floor is where animals and farming tools are kept. The second floor is the main living and food storage areas are. The third floor is for the bedrooms. The second floor has a large main room with smaller storage rooms off of it. The large room is where the cooking, eating, and family activities occur. There is a hearth on one side. The floors are wooden, except for the hearth. The hearth is in the room and not against the wall and its base is a large slab of stone with an indentation in it. The fire is built on the stone and cooking vessels are placed on tripods above the fire
The Minority Groups which inhabited the area are very unique. Normally, China’s Ethnic Minority Groups keep to themselves, but since the three groups were forced up into the mountain in close proximity to each other, their constant contact meant that their cultures blended somewhat. They have separate features, but some similar ones as well. All the women in the village wear the traditional clothing which adds a beautiful splash of color to the village. They live as they always have and it is a wonderful experience to witness their culture first-hand.
The rice fields are works of art. Each one has sides built up of earth which has to be constantly maintained because the water in each paddy wears them down. The rice paddies are kept filled via natural springs at the top of the mountain. Each paddy feeds water to the one below it due to notches cut in the tops of the earthen walls. The water drops from terrace to terrace, keeping them all filled. When they wish to drain them, the water is diverted from the top fields via bamboo pipes and the water is allowed to empty from the terraces. Water is transferred distances via pieces of bamboo which are split in half and used as a trough to move the water.