«Juanwen Yuan Thesis committee Thesis supervisor Prof. dr. A. Niehof Professor of Sociology of Consumers and Households Wageningen University Thesis ...»
Extra vegetables are used as pig feed or they are discarded. Since fifteen years, the government and the CBNRM project have been promoting the production of cash crops, such as tobacco, mushrooms, and fruit trees. The common crops are chilli, fruit trees, Chinese cabbage, potato, soybean, sunflower, and pumpkin, in addition to the three main crops that are planted in the home garden or the upland. Fruits trees are also common, even though their management is not very good. The
seasonal calendar for the main crops is listed in Table 4.3:
In the past, villagers were not very attracted to animal husbandry. There is a saying in the municipality, “raising pigs is for eating in the Spring Festival [Chinese New Year] and raising poultry is for getting pocket money”, which shows that they do not attach much value to animal husbandry. Perhaps this is because the government did not promote animal husbandry during the collective era and there was not enough food to feed animals. Now, however, the villagers do value animal husbandry on a daily basis, because it increases their income. Especially in the upland villages, the households now have extra maize to feed the animals.
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The money made from tobacco production is the main revenue of the municipality of Kaizuo and the government puts a lot of effort into stimulating the tobacco production. Tobacco is an important income source for several villages, but for only one of the research villages. The government and the CBNRM project have also helped villagers to grow fruit trees, which was successful in some cases and in others not. The government started to promote the mushroom production in 2007 in many of the municipality’s villages. The collection of medicinal herbs and wild vegetables is also a common activity of the local people. Vendors come to buy those in the harvest season. Due to overexploitation, however, finding medicinal herbs and wild vegetables has become increasingly difficult.
The villages have relatively better-quality land than other villages in the province, but the land utilization efficiency is not high. Some lands are even abandoned, especially the remotely located land. In the past, there was a diversity of crops, but now, many local varieties have disappeared or are disappearing, e.g.
red millet, fragrant wheat, and local wheat. The crops growing in the municipality are usually monocropped. The villagers mentioned that hybrid rice and maize cultivation conflicts with traditional crop cultivation with regard to time or space.
They had to stop cultivating these traditional crops in order to have time and space for hybrid crops.
The land use pattern in the village of Dabuyang shows that, in 1995, there were rain-fed paddy fields (Figure 4.4). Now, the situation has improved in many villages because of irrigation systems that were built and supported by the CBNRM project and the government. Wasteland is common in the municipality; it is used for grazing cattle (Sun 2007a). Forest does not attract local people very much in terms of yielding income. There is usually only good forest surrounding the villages (the village forest), because people believe that a good village forest brings them prosperity and wealth. The more remote forest land is not well managed. It consists mostly of bushes. The government reserves some lands strictly for natural forest growth; there, the quality of the forest is better. The government also provides subsidies for the villagers to convert steep land to forest, which is benefitting the upland villages because they have a lot of steep land. The subsidies are 210 yuan and 300 kg rice per mu annually, with at least eight consecutive years of subsidies.
Figure 4.4: Land use in Dabuyang village (adapted from the CBNRM Guizhou project, 1995).
Migration Migration is common in the municipality. While there was little migration in the 1980s, it started mostly in the 1990s. During the 1980s, men engaged in daily or short-term circular migration, working in nearby places. They usually worked in house construction. In the early 1990s, usually unmarried and younger people migrated because they were surplus labourers in the non-busy season, and had nothing to do but chat, play games and visit friends. In 1994, for example, there were 25 migrants from the village of Dabuyang village and three migrants from the village of Xiaozhai, most of them unmarried and younger people (Chen et al., 1995). Nowadays, both married and unmarried people migrate.
Kinship ties play an important role in migration. The children are usually left behind with relatives, especially grandparents, who look after them if both husband and wife migrate. Relatives also help the new migrants, for instance by introducing them to employers.
Rural enterprises Before 2003, there was no rural enterprise in the municipality. Now, there are four private factories introduced by the municipal government, but the workers are mainly from other places. The local villagers are not satisfied with the payment there; they would prefer to migrate for higher salaried work in the industrialized provinces. Since these factories are not environment-friendly, the villagers are also reluctant to work there because they worry about pollution.
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Mining and transportation In the past, the villagers ran coal- and limestone mines without any strict management. Yet, mining is now strictly controlled by the government. For the villagers, it is difficult to get the certificate necessary for running a mine. There are only a number of small mines run by the villagers themselves, with each mine employing several helpers. There is a big coal-mine in a neighbouring county, at only a 30 minutes walk from Dongkou. Many Dongkou villagers commute daily to work there, earning relatively high salaries.
More people earn money by working in transportation. They may have their own trucks, or they work for other truck owners. They help local rural industries to transport materials and products. They mainly help villagers by transporting construction materials and manure. In the past, they used tractors or horse carts to do so.
4.6 Cultural profile The municipality of Kaizuo is home to both Buyi and Han people. This section will provide a brief description of the culture in the municipality, as well as highlight some Buyi cultural features.
Marriage and household division Only a few people remain unmarried in the municipality. The nuclear family is the dominant household type. Marriage is not just the concern of a couple, but of both of the families involved. Attention is paid to the economic situation and social status of both sides, which should be more or less equal. In the past, husband and wife were from neighbouring villages. The families were introduced to each other by matchmakers, who usually were relatives. Nowadays, many girls search for a marriage partner far away and follow the husband to live in a better place.
Through migration, young people also have more opportunities to meet a suitable partner. However, matchmakers are still needed by the family of the husband to approach the family of the wife, to get permission for the marriage and discuss the details of the wedding ceremony.
The local residence pattern is patrilocal, meaning that the woman moves to the husband’s house to live. It is customary for the husband’s family to pay more for the preparation of the wedding and the wedding ceremony. His family gives money to the wife’s family for the wedding gifts, which is put together with the woman’s dowry. The wedding ceremony lasts for two to three days. The husband’s family makes an effort to build new houses for their sons, for when they are grown up and get married. Here, they will later establish their own household.
There is a proverb in the municipality that says “big trees have branches and big households have to be divided into small households”, meaning that households have to be split when they are big enough. Household division proceeds according to certain principles. One is that the land is divided according to the number of sons. Each son gets one portion. If he gets married, he cultivates it himself. If he is unmarried, he and his parents cultivate it together. If he is the only
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son or youngest child, he will not separate from his parents. If the parents want to provide for themselves, they have two choices. They cultivate land themselves when they are still capable to do so, but they have to ask each son to give one parcel of land to them. If they cannot cultivate the land themselves, they ask each son to give them an equivalent quantity of rice or maize. In addition, they will grow some vegetables for their own consumption. Another principle is that the house is also divided into equal parts that are given to each son. The parents also have one part, but usually they live in the older buildings. When the older married sons have the capacity to build their own houses, they move to these. Trees, pigs, and cattle are divided likewise as well. The household division may work out differently in different situations. Some households do the division once the son gets married, while others do it after the first baby is born. The latter is more common.
During the collective period, households owned no land or trees. Households were separate only as cooking units. They had few possessions, just some basic necessities like chopsticks, bowls and chairs. There was no stored maize or rice to divide, either.
Zuojia Zuojia is a Buyi cultural institution. In the past, Buyi women got married very young but they stayed at home for several years after marriage. They were required to go back to their natal families at the end of the first day of the wedding ceremony. They were only invited to help the husband’s family with agricultural activities during the peak season, but the husband was not required to help his wife’s family with their agricultural activities. The women did not come to live with the husband until they were pregnant. They were then required to deliver the baby in the husband’s house. Nowadays, zuojia is still required for Buyi women, but it is not so strictly adhered to anymore. Some women just go home for one day after the marriage for a symbolic visit, and many young couples migrate to the city after the wedding ceremony. If necessary, the younger husbands now also go and help the wife’s parents more frequently with agricultural activities.
Buyi people like to sing Buyi songs, which are mostly love songs. While older people, especially women, still know the songs, few younger people can sing them. An aged Buyi person can speak the Buyi language. Aged women wear the traditional costume. The young people migrate to earn cash income and are not very interested in traditional culture. Yet, lately, women increasingly have begun to wear a modified version of the traditional costume and perform traditional dances.
The possible reason is that Guizhou is a province with many ethnic groups. The provincial government promotes tourism by conserving the traditional culture of these groups. The tourists are interested in the diverse cultures and the municipality of Kaizuo is influenced by this culture conservation campaign, even if it is not a tourist site. Another explanation may be that ethnic groups who live among a mixed population tend to want to keep their own culture alive.
Zahui Zahui is a kind of money raising activity in Kaizuo, similar to a rotating savings
and credit association (ROSCA). Several good friends put some money together and form a zahui group. If one of them urgently needs to use it, the others will allow this person to use the money first. After one round finishes, the group members will discuss whether the group will continue its operation or not. There are different kinds of zahui types. Based on activities and features, some examples are the aged cooperative, in which elderly people form a group; the wedding cooperative, for people who need help for their wedding ceremony; and the house construction cooperative, for people who need help to get their house built.
Based on the required contribution per household/person, there are the following categories of zahui: the 10-yuan cooperative, the 20-yuan cooperative, the 50-yuan cooperative, and the 100-yuan cooperative, according to the contribution per person or household. Sometimes, the required contribution is in kind, e.g. in the form of rice, soybean or rapeseed oil. One group member may contribute 35 jin (1 kg= 2 jin) of rice, five jin of soybean and one jin of rapeseed oil.
Women are interested in zahui in particular. Men and young people also attend zahui, but not so much as women do. People can participate in several zahui at the same time. Zahui is a way to raise money as well as a system for mutual assistance.
Believes and fengshui culture Each village observes a tradition to build a temple for the land god, which is believed to guarantee the safety of the village. Each household builds an altar for the ancestors in an important part of the house. The villages also have a tradition to formulate village regulations and folk customs, which include a lot of items for a sound management of the village, like, for instance, crop growth management, cattle feeding management and forest management. Fengshui (literally ‘wind and water’), which started as early as the Qin Dynasty, is popular and important to Kaizuo people’s daily life. The people of Kaizuo believe that good fengshui fulfils wishes of safety, longevity, family prosperity, and wealth. The ancestors once built the village on a good location, surrounded by good forest, which can bring water and wind. Likewise, the villagers are very interested in finding a good location that will give them good fengshui. There are several fengshui masters, who advise on finding the right location for building houses and tombs, determining the right time for moving to a new house, and so on. They usually hold a relatively high position in the village and their advices are very important for the villagers in making decisions regarding the above activities.
Cooking unit To have separate cooking arrangements is the starting point for a new household.