MalayaN cultivated rice and its expansion – part four

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MalayaN cultivated rice and its expansion – PART four

KOJI, Tanaka, (Linyanxin translation), Kyoto University Agricultural Dept., Japan

(Agricultural Archaeology 1998(1):344-350. Japanese>Chinese transl. by Lin Guangxin & Peng Shijiang, History Lab. Researcher, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, PR CHINA Scanned by Karmen Sui, edited by G. Leir & B. Gordon)

IV. Finding the source of Malayan cultivation
I review Part One’s Malayan cultivated rice expansion, evolution and essential traits. Of 3 Asian cultivated types, the Malayan maintained primitive shape and color and was unaffected by Chinese rice accompanying dry plowing technology. As Indian rice spread and stayed 2-3,000 years in SE Asian islands and resembles modern rice, we explore its evolution through literature and archaeology to see if primitive rice technology originated in SE Asian mainland and China and if it resembles Malayan. If so, primitive rice may have spread from mainland to islands as Malayan cultivated rice, and I will explore essential cultivated traits common to SE Asia, China and Malaya.
1. Malayan cultivated essentials in mainland SE Asia and China

  1. As in slash & burn agriculture

Essential rice technology and slash & burn agriculture are alike in SE Asian mainland, S China and Malaya, as are dibbling and winnowing; e.g., sowing by 3 N Thai Lu Ma slash & burn cultivators. The first pierced the burnt grassland with an iron-tipped dibble (lung). The left hands of the other two held seed-loaded bamboo tubes, their right hands placing 5-6 seeds in each hole, their left using the tube base to fill the hole. After sickling, they seed- extracted by trampling (Judd 1961:152,163,170), like N Thai Lanquanlun area, where dibbling was done in turned soil (Geddes 1976:159).

Burma’s Taigaokalian tribe likewise expanded slash & burn cultivation. The sharpened end of a dibble or brushhooklike tool made a hole and seeds inserted with an S-shaped harvesting sickle (Marshall 1922:78,82). Paddy cultivation influenced slash & burn harvesting from Thailand to Burma, especially the S-shaped sickle resembling the Indian curved sickle which was absent in original slash & burn cultivation. The N Thai Miao sickled, possibly introducing it to rice centers from paddies.
What local method predates sickling? The mountain Awes Miao used slash & burn, harvesting rice stalks with a knife-edged halfmoon-shaped thin plank (Lemoine 1972:64). This and Malayan methods are identical. Seed is winnowed by trampling stalks on a porous bamboo mat, then beating with a wood or bamboo stick (ibid:66).
Toolless harvesting is at the common border of Burma, Thailand and NE Laos. Basketted ears are winnowed in a hut by dancing youths (Izikowitz 1951:253), a method also used by the NE Indian Najia (Hutton 1926:63) and Kamawu (Yawata 1965:196). Sowing involves a man dibbling and woman sowing (Izikowitz 1951:61; Lemoine 1972:64; Hutton l926:63), a method identical in Thailand and Burma. This is followed by sickling and winnowing. As SE Asian island methods were almost identical, the method doubtless was also on the mainland.
Chinese slash & burn cultivation was also similar, including Hainan Island’s Li who burnt wasteland grass and sowed with a 1.5 m dibble with 25 cm iron tip. Harvesting was by hand-picking (mainly glutinous rice) or small Vietnamese-type hook or serrated sickle with iron knife side-mounted on a halfmoon-shaped plank curving to a vertical bamboo handle (Part One). Cows winnow-trampled when harvesting was heavy (Wei Gao 1944:47-64). Hainan Island slash & burn cultivation appears reduced, but mountain rice is widely cultivated in dry ravines22. The steel spade, shovel (si plow), dibble, knife and other tools are used in this type of cultivation and harvesting.
Like Hainan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi minorities slash & burned; e.g., Yunnan’s Lianshan County Jingpo "hole basket" dibbling, "forced stick" weeding and curved sickle harvesting. Sowing was mainly by women, one dibbling, the other turning the soil and flattening the ground with a broom. Sickling or hand-picked ears were trampled (Wang Jingdeng 1986:2-3; Zhu Jiazhen 1986:3). A Guangxi’s Shangsi County Yao man used iron-tipped dibble with woman sowing, as early broadcast sowing of slash & burnt fields had poor harvests. Legendary godking Li accidentally found that seed trampled in a hole by goats grew very well in dry farmland, and imitated, but does this say dibbling existed before broadcast sowing or merely explains its origin? While unclear, it says dibbling was common after slash & burn. The Yao harvested with a kutep pick, after which tied ears were taken to a granary where a mortar was used to extract pure white seed (Xuren Yaodeng 1987:12-13). (p.345)
This shows S China minorities practiced slash & burn with tools like those of SE Asian island and mainland that did not come from India. It is surprising to see similar technology in S China and SE Asian mainland with Malaya, and explains why Malayan cultivated rice was uninfluenced by Indian cultivated rice, spreading alone to the islands. Considering basic differentiation types, the conclusion was expected from the very start, but what was the paddy rice situation? I considered S China and SE Asian mainland ties showing paddy rice was nearly all introduced as Chinese or Indian cultivated rice. If Malayan cultivated rice had all essential traits, it suggests a more ancient technology before the formation of three types of Asian cultivated rice. Malayan rice cultivation traits follow:
(2) As in paddy field
More hoof-trampling in the SE Asian mainland than its islands suggests it preceded plowing. The foot plow of Burma, Thailand and Vietnam was introduced in Part Two, so let’s look at Burmese and Vietnamese minority methods. Ancient paddy cultivation in the Burma plain S of the mountains had two plowing methods: foot plowing in rainy season when earth softened, then by cows as fields dried (Marshall 1922:87). Despite vague foot plow records, Minbu and Thaton foot plows are inferred, but it was common among the S Kalian. Conversely, Vietnam once had widespread foot plows, Dangetal (1984) finding them mentioned in Awes-Tuoluo W Asian, central Vietnam Meng-Cambodian Sedang and Muong, Vietnam Edeh and Thailand Tuomuping Muong languages.
Dalin (1985:221), noting Vietnamese minority foot plows, especially "Sedang and Mnong ones”, expected the need for clarifying distribution, resulting in Part Two, Fig. 4. China’s S coastal Li foot plows were common (Bill 1943:74,224, 332,492), but Weigao says they were absent in 1942 in Ledong County, Hainan Island, and are rare elsewhere. As the introduction of these "primitive tools" was marked, "it seems improper to think they were common Li agricultural tools" (Weigao 1994:54). In fact, they were rare23.
As Hainan Island had foot plows but not mainland China, their centre may be the SE Asian islands where they are widely distributed, and why Dalin focussed on Vietnamese minorities. I once said: "if mainland China had foot plows, Malayan rice technology borrowing needs revision" (Tanaka & Furukawa 1982:43). In China, they are confined to minorities; e.g.s, the Miao in Jiang County, SE Guizhou, and Dai in Yunnan. Rice is the most important Mian Village Miao crop (Guizhou Banji Dept. 1987:2-10), but the iron-tipped hoe and wooden rake did not replace the foot plow until 1940. Others used the iron paddy-grass cutter like the tajak long knife, bamboo cutter, knife-weeder with rake etc. The non-paddy dibble was used on arid land and vegetable gardens or reclaimed wasteland.
Paddies are managed with the above tools, but big areas need the wood rake and buffalo for trampling. In the 1950’s, “peasants were seen using rakes to drive buffalo in paddies for trampling” (Guizhou Bianji Dept. 1987:9). As SE Asian island wetland pre-plowing used the tajak rake and long grass cutter, it is very interesting to compare Miao and island rice cultivation and plowing. Yunnan’s Dai foot plows24 may be inferred from the Miao.
Widespread Indian terraces on the Chinese border are foot plowed. Drained paddy is transplanted after foot plowing like SE Asian islands; i.e., spaded, drained and plowed with two sticks (Furer-Haimendorf 1962:27). Early rice is directly stripped from stalks, while late rice is cut and winnowed. Dry soil is pulverized by spading
The Guizhou Province Miao use foot plows and rakes in hill paddies, partly plowing them after fall harvest, completing them in spring. Women foot plow to level and rake rice stubble as green manure (Guizhou Editing Group 1986b:12-13). Mid-19 century Miao plowed three ways: water buffalo (50%), human (30%) and foot & spade (20%), but 1948 percentages in the same order were 80%, 5% and 15%. Method two by humans involved spading, stomping stubble into mud, levelling and plowing. Rakes were not used (ibid. 122-124). Guizhou’s Jianhe County Miao prepared paddies similarly. They used buffalo for years, two persons following the plow, all stomping the stubble (Guizhou Province Editing Group 1987:153). Guangxi’s Shangsi County Yao use the spade and foot plow without buffalo (Zhang Youjuan et al. 1987b:611). Guizhou’s Miao and Guangxi’s Yao use special tools (grain cutter & rice knife) in slash & burnt fields, but sickle paddy harvest and winnow in a threshing barrel. In sum, S China minorities foot plowed, even after water buffalo introduction.
Malayan slash & burn preceded cultivating, picking and foot-treddle threshing, but we find the same plowing method in paddies. I described India-China border direct stripping of grain from stalks, while NE Indians cut stalks with serrated sickles, basketting it for foot-thrashing (Hutton 1931:75-76).
The Guizhou Miao foot-treddle threshed after hand picking, while the Taijiang County Miao either hand picked or cut stalks for glutinous and japonica rice and then flailed. Other Miao hand picked only glutinous rice, cutting ears and binding them on frames, followed by foot-treddle threshing after drying, like the Guizhou Buyi (Guizhou Province Editing Group 1986b:127,129 & 1986a:21). Yunnan’s Wa foot-treddled and beat in the paddy (Tian Jizhou et al. 1987:5), while Guangnxi’s Yao cut ears in slash & burnt and paddy fields, binding the rice for home storage (Zhang Youxiu et al. 1987a:150).
Malayan cultivation technology existed in SE Asian mainland and S China paddies and slash & burnt fields, but due to quickly adopted Chinese and Indian technology, data on ancient foot and tread plows, hand picking, stomping seed extraction, etc., in mountain minorities is rare. We cannot pinpoint its introduction in SE Asian islands, but ancient S China and SE Asian mainland usage suggest Malayan rice technology. In Part Two, I used “primitive cultivation technology” to include dibbles, simple plows pulled by people or buffalo, hand picking and feet and mortar winnowing. Also included are slash & burnt fields, followed by seeding, picking and foot-treddling or mortar extraction. Early rice cultivation technology began when both techniques joined.
2. Finding the source of this cultivation
To amplify early technology, I explore older S China and SE Asian mainland cultivation, adding unfinished issues from Part Two; specifically, spade evolution and tidal irrigation. I also want to discuss similar evolution in S China and how it relates to China and the SE Asian mainland.
As ancient SE Asian mainland rice cultivation data is rare, I compare stone and metal tools. An attractive hypothesis is that Dongshan copper drum carriers in SW China and E Indonesia also had rice. The pre-Dongshan Halong culture stone spade at Tokoyo Bay and from Hainan Island to Red Delta suggests agriculture, including rice cultivation. Ear-shaped metal jewelry S of Yangtze River to India, Thailand, Philippines and Taiwan, suggest25 trade played a big role in Vietnam Shafen culture, contemporaneous with Dongshan. Excavated S China and SE Asian island ship coffin graves show much mainland to island movement.
Based on such exchange, people indubitably brought rice cultivation to SE Asian islands, and it is normal to find Malayan rice technology there and NW China. Malayan rice origin is identifiable in this exchange, but direct evidence of early cultivated rice was confined to lower Yangtze Valley, where Hemudu is one of the earliest sites with most remains: much primitive rice and buffalo bone, bone plows, etc., and Liangzhu culture rice, mortar & pestles, stone spades & knives, cow & pig bone, etc., 2000 years later. All support rice cultivation.
S China rice cultivation is described in Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States records. Shiji Pingzhun explains pre-Han cultivation: “rice fields S of Yangtze River were prepared by burning straw and weeds and watering the land”, a method used in Nunja where post-harvest fields were unplowed; i.e., as Malayan technique used tidal irrigation and tajak stalk cutting but not plowing, it is easy to understand this type of rice cultivation.
An interesting foot plow record is Yuejue’s “coast Dayue with elephant and bird to prepare fields” (Bird & Elephant-Plowed Field)26. Many thought Shun agricultural contribution was mythical, but it was true, according to Eastern Han Dynasty’s Wang Chun’s book Lunhen: “Shaoxing in Zhejiang and Hunan’s Ningyuan County used birds to collect rice straw and elephant to trample fields”, repeated in Wang Chong’s Buwozhe: “The Hailing plant rice after deer eat the grass and trample the field.” He thought Zhejiang elephant and Jiangsu deer were analogous.
Paddy buffalo trampling was once thought whimsy, but new records find it in rice cultivation origin. Rare Chinese foot plow data shows we must wait before comparing SE Asian islands, but we can use it to trace Malayan rice cultivation history.
Part Four answers two queries: (a) origin of non-plowing method, citing S China’s (esp. SE coast) “Han fire plow and paddy” cultivation S of Yangtze River. Guangdong’s Zhujiang Delta called it shatian or tidal irrigation (Peng Shijiang 1989:273-6), while Vietnam’s Red Delta called it luotian (Ying Jing 1979:37-57). Limited by tidal height, only fresh or slightly saline water filled the paddy, and people need not plow. We cannot prove its origin, but it may have originated in coastal China and taken to SE Asian islands to be widely used in coastal wetland.
Another query (b) is if spades originated in foot plowing or other cultivation systems. Malayan type rice spades were widespread in China as shovels, as in the iron one mentioned. The Hemudu bone spade may be the original tool in terms of composition, but there were many excavated wooden spades and iron heads, mostly Han Dynasty (Yan Wenming 1989:231-241). Vietnam’s Halong culture has similar stone tools which may relate. We cannot conclude if the Malayan spade came from China, or on the origin of the dibble in root cultivation, but we hope to say the spade was used on original rice, considering the fact that I conclude Malayan rice cultivation came from S China and SE Asian mainland. But there is insufficient evidence to support this hypothesis.
We classed Asian rice as Chinese, Indian and Malayan, exploring the latter’s distribution and uncomformity compared to the former and being unsure if we can conclude Malayan rice is one type. Its origin is S China, but its introduction, etc., is unknown. We must study Malayan techniques to open our mind to rice origin, as we should for SE Asian islands. As Chinese and Indian techniques replace Malayan ones, some technical factors vanish, while others are faint; e.g., as new rice cultivation techniques significantly improved and were widely adopted in the late 1960’s, people dropped Malayan ones. As we shelve the classification of Malayan rice, we must investigate SE Asian island techniques, recording it for future studies.

222 I examined Hainan Island’s Shanlan rice. It is 1.5-2 m high with big ears and very long awn. People cook it and glutinous rice in bamboo tubes with pork and salt, welcoming it as “bamboo rice”.

223 1950-1960’s investigation shows the foot plough was very popular a century ago, becoming popular again in some regions. It is used in various guises under study: Maogui, Maodao and Maozhi Villages, Baisha County, etc. (Guangdong Editing Group:12, 33 178, 215). Ming records say Hainan Islanders used foot ploughs “driving water buffalo into paddy to prepare it” (Haicuo Record, Hainan Nationality Museum exhibit). We see from the above ancient foot ploughs were used.

224 I thank Prof. You Xiuling, Zhejiang Agriculture University, for mentioning the Dai foot plough in a Kyoto University conference paper: “Baiyue Rice and its Influence in China and Overseas.”

225 For ear ornament distribution near the S China Sea, see “Intercultural Exchange Surrounding the China Sea Region: the Ear Ornament Center”. Bulletin of the SE Asian Archaeology Academic Society #7, May 1987.

226 The “Bird & Elephant-Ploughed Field” record is from You Xiuling and Zheng Yunfei. Eherhard (1968:215,218) inferred foot ploughing occurred first, from Bowuzhe’s suggestion of an imaginary pig trampling soil, but it may have been a millet deer.

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