Spectacular Rice Terraces of Yuanyang
Yuanyang is renowned for its rice terraces crafted out, no sculpted by bare hands by the Hani people one thousand years ago, transforming a barren valley into a humid Eden; perfect for rice crops. The 1000m of mountain slopes of terraces is still in use today, claiming to be the world’s most spectacular and extensive terraces.The natural beauty and rustic charm of China has captured my soul.
Once, I gathered my courage and decided to see what my life would become if I did something I truly loved. I’ve never looked back.
I found a country of many amazing regions and breathtaking scenery, with an almost dream-like allure. I was so entranced by the landscapes of Yunnan in southern China that I soon decided to move there.
The Hani Rice Terraces, covering more than 16,000 hectares in southern Yunnan, are marked by spectacular terraced fields that cascade down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River.For the past 1,300 years, the Hani have built a complex system of channels to bring water from the forested mountaintops to the terraces.
The winter temperatures here, although never freezing, are such that the terraces can only support one rice crop a year. After the harvest, from mid-September until mid-November depending on the elevation, the terraces are filled with water until April, when the planting begins.During the many months spent photographing these landscapes I have developed not only a great understanding of the scenery and the climate, but also an intimate knowledge of the traditional culture of the Hani and Yi people. There are a total of 928 settlements in Yuanyang county, with a remarkable 826 of them only inhabited by one single ethnic group.
In some areas of the Yunnan region, the farmers have created as many as 3,000 adjacent terraces, using a complex series of ditches and canals to move rainfall and spring water from one place to another.
From elevations as high as 6,500 feet, the terraces undulate down into the valleys, forming intricate patterns that mirror the clouds and the sky. The fusion of man and nature creates awe-inspiring beauty, and I love the patterns and the diversity of colours that can be found at each site.
Today the Hani Rice Terraces of Yuanyang have been designated as an UNESCO World Culture and Natural Heritage site, and every year I return to visit this remarkable region and its welcoming people.The thousands of terraces stand as a testament to the technical ingenuity of the Hani people in cultivating a seemingly inhospitable land.I believe that as photographers we must not only use what we see, but that we should always use our hearts and spirits to create something different. I am always striving to learn how to better use my eyes to read the beauty in front of me, and then to use my heart to capture it.
A true image is made with your heart, not your camera.China is a huge country and has many diverse landscapes. Still utterly captivated by the land and the culture after six years of living here, I find myself constantly amazed by this beautiful part of our Earth.