Longi Dazai 2014

"China is a Sleeping Giant...

Let Her Sleep;

For When She Awakes, She will

Astonish the World ".........


In 2014 I travelled to South China to the Dazai Rice Terraces in Guangxi Province to observe the spring planting of rice by the Yao Minority people who live in this mountainous region of southern China. They use the same methods of their ancestors who developed these feats of farm engineering back in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and finished in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Not having flat, arable land in which to cultivate the rice, they developed an ingenious way to build these irrigated canals in a terraced fashion going all the way up mountains of 3,000 ft. These terraced fields – left to Yao descendants – are maintained from one generation to the next in patrilineal fashion – sons inheriting from fathers. They use no pesticides or chemical fertilizers; ducks are released into the canals. They eat the weeds and pests and their droppings provide excellent ferilizer. The Yao have always lived with and among their rice fields in ancient stilted wooden houses clustered every so often up the mountain. Water runs down the mountain, irrigates the terraces, flows to the river below where it evaporates, rises, condenses to form fog and rain completing a never-ending cycle in this agro-ecosystem. These “Stairways of Life” are very much more than a spectacular cultural site – they represent a perfect relationship between man and nature.