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Hani Rice Terraces

The Hani Rice Terraces of Honghe Prefecture is a kind of agriculture civilization created by the Hani and other peoples. It is located in the mountainous areas where different climates can be experienced at different latitudes along the same mountain range at the same time.

The Hani Rice Terraces has existed for over 1300 years. According to historical record, the reclamation of rice terraces was somewhat popular during the Tang Dynasty. In Nong Zheng Quan Shu (On Agriculture), Xue Guangqi, a famed agronomist in Ming Dynasty, regarded Hani Rice Terraces as one of the seven field systems in China .

The Hani Rice Terraces is mainly distributed in the counties of Yuanyang, Luchun, Honghe and Jinping at the south bank of Ailao Mountain. The total area covers nearly 70,000 hectares, of which over 190,000 mu (approximately 127,000 hectares) sits in Yuanyang, and practically 700 hectares are concentrated into large pieces. With imposing significance, the most typical ones are located in Duoyishu, Niujiaozai, Mlishu, and Mengpin.

The Hani Rice Terraces is not only the principle foundation of  the Hani people, but it is also the core of agriculture techniques, religious customs, rules and regulations, architecture culture, festival activities, literature, song and dance. The characteristics of culture diversity, biological variety and coexistence of people and nature can be fully embodied with the cultivation of rice terraces.

For hundreds of years, the Hani people have worshiped nature, and they have been able to conform to and transform nature by appreciating and fully understanding it. The four factors of forests, villages, rice terraces and water systems are highly united in harmony. The harmonious system not only provides food for the local farmers, but contributes a lot to environment protection as well. For over 1300 years, nationalities including Hani, Yi, Miao, Yao, Dai, Zhuang and Han have been inhabited and cultivated in this area, and they helped each other in the drive of pursuing a better life.

For its particular value and significance, the Hani Rice Terraces was accepted into China ’s tentative list of world heritage candidates in 2006, and one year later, it became a pilot wetland park at the state level. It was approved as a pilot protection project of global key agriculture heritages recently in 2010 and successfully accepted world cultural heritage list of UNESCO in 2013.

The Hani Rice Terraces of Honghe Prefecture is an outstanding example of living cultural landscapes which reflect agriculture civilization. With grand and magnificent scale, it displays wonderful landscapes with particular aesthetic value. The terrace system, water conservancy and harmonious living environment are highly based on nature and demonstrate the wisdom, perseverance and optimism of mankind. While proving to be a gorgeous landscape resulting from rice cultivation in subtropical areas, the Hani Rice Terraces is a fine illustration of the traditional rice cultivation in Asian countries. For Hani Rice Terraces, the process and effect of the coexistence between mankind and nature have lasted for more than 1300 years, making it a good example of community and land cultivation in mountainous regions. In the process of developing Hani Rice Terraces, the indigenous farmers attached great importance to strict ecological and ethical values. So the biodiversity was perfectly preserved and combined into a firm and dynamic developing foundation together with cultural diversity. With exuberant vitality, the Hani Rice Terraces gives us a vivid example of how the agriculture civilization reached its peak with the limited natural resources, and this revelation is of great importance even in the 21st century.

Generally speaking, the Hani Rice Terrace accords with world heritage standards regarding the following items:

(i): In the process of co-evolution of mankind and nature, a sustainable agricultural system in mountainous regions was set up, featuring time-honored agriculture techniques and ecological values which highlight the coexistence of mankind and nature. Although confined by poor natural conditions, a harmonious living environment was created by the local people, and their wisdom, perseverance, and optimism were fully displayed through the cultivation of rice terraces. The Hani Rice Terraces is undoubtedly a masterpiece of human and nature.

(ii)Represented by Hani Rice Terraces, the subtropical terraces terrain on the south bank of Honghe River is one of the largest rice cultivation areas at such an altitude existing since 8th century B.C., and all the tangible and intangible factors of rice cultivation found in Hani Rice Terraces work together to embody the characteristics of traditional rice cultivation in Asian countries.

 (iii): The Hani Rice Terraces is an outstanding living example of cultural landscapes which reflect agriculture civilization. Having experienced an evolution of over 1000 years from the Tang dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, the irrigation system of rice terraces is a general but particular miniature of the expansion and sustainable development of Chinese traditional agriculture. With integrity and authenticity, the landscapes have long existed to show the beauty and perfection that agriculture civilization stands for.

 (iv)With a history of more than 1300 years, the landscapes illustrate the successful cultivation of land in mountainous regions. The rice terraces, irrigation system and villages are skillfully integrated into the local ecological system, not only contributing to a healthy and harmonious living environment, but also promoting the protection of the ecological system and biodiversity in mountainous regions. Hence a successful example of community organization and land cultivation has taken shape, giving us a vivid idea of the cooperation between mankind and nature.

 (v)With its unusual way of narration, the Hani rice terraces brings home to us the significance of cultural diversity, which is closely related to the traditional culture of all the ethnic groups, especially the Hani, living in the area.



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