2011年11月29日 星期二

Flowers, Herbs and History. 4

As in all conducted tours, it was inevitable that we would be led to the designated national or provincial "centres of education" about various aspects of native products. In this trip we were introduced to benefits of honey, aloe and Chinese herbal medicine. I thought I knew about honey: that we must never use hot water when diluting it, that it helps digestion and that good natural honey should form, crystals at the bottom of the bottle in winter and that the best honey is winter honey etc. But there's always something to learn: the way to test whether honey is pure is to inverse the bottle and see if it is viscous enough to flow down very very slowly along the outer circumference of the glass container and that when mixing honey with water, we should not use a metal spoon nor should we store honey in a refrigerator because then some of its active ingredients may be destroyed or that a hive of bees can reach a maximum of about 50,000 bees or that a queen bee can produce as many as a thousand bees worms per day!!

Two conventional bee boxes, one old and the other "new".

A hive of bees showing the worker bees which are sexless and exist merely for serving the bee community: building the bee hives, looking for flowers, gathering in the honey, processing it in their stomaches, and excreting different types of honey for feeding the queen bee, the male bees, the soldier bees and the other baby worker bees. 

In our visit to the academy of aloe, we learned that aloe is a wonderfully useful plant and that there are some 500 different species of flowering succulent plants of which the medicinal aloe is only one. It has large rosette like fleshy leaves which when cut will produce a glue-like sap which can be used to gel hair, heal sun  burns and insect bites by stopping the itching and also soften ezcema. It may also kill ringworms if applied externally. When mixed with honey, it may be used as a facial mask. it can also be used as soap and certain of its components may inhibit cancer growth and may also be used to treat Type II diabetes . When taken internally, it may help digestion and help relieve constipation.

The window of the "lecture hall" of the bee farm, made of tree barks,bamboos and twines.

Light falling upon the sides of the faces of two of fellow tour group members during the bee and honey lecture.

Part of the tree-bark walls.

The tree bark walls.

The bottom of the walls are broken.

Wheelbarrows lying outside of the kitchen.

Another wheelbarrow and two urns outside the kitchen

The chief of one of the Po Yee tribe (布依族), one of the 13 Yunnan hill tribes, now resettled in Guandong province. They are a matriarchical society. According to her, the women in her tribe do all the outside work like farming, gathering tea leaves whilst the men will look after the children and do housework. But before a man is taken into the family, he must undergo a three-year trial period!  They grow Tin Chat, a very useful medicine for stopping bleeding, whether internal or external.
According to internet sources, there are nearly 3 million Baoyi tribesman spread in various autonomous hillside country of Yunnan and they share certain cultural traits with the Miao (苗族) and Tung tribesman (侗族) and got their own towns like 安顺市、贵阳市,遵义市, 六盘水 罗平市 and 同仁  and 毕节 regions and the 宁南、会理 in Szechuan。

They practise monogamy and their marriages are usually arranged by their parents and marry quite early and some were engaged even from infancy and they hold the formal marriage ceremony between ages 13 to 17 after which the bride would be accompanied by an older woman to spend a few days at the husband's family and then return to her maternal home until they are 17 or 18 and in the meantime will get together only during other weddings or funerals or work together during harvest season.  First a marriage broker will approach the bride's family and match their birth dates or "8 figures"  (合八字), then the groom's family will bring an even number of  chicken, wine, candies and other gifts to the bride's family to visit the bride's family. If they are agreeable, then the groom's family will visit the bride's family a second time with chickens, wine, a several catties of pork and a leg or even an entire pig, firecrackers and two pairs of red candles and some monetary gifts and exchange their "8 figures" in the presence of guests and relatives. Then the groom should send along two young men to fight to get back the two glutinous rice cakes given to the bride's family to worship their own ancestors but they will have to brave attacks by the children at the entrance to the village who would pelt them with all sorts of projectiles made with mud and a fruit called  苦楝子 and water guns. This part of the ceremony is called "打报古", the intention being to give notice to the world that the girl is taken. This practice is prevalent in such places as 镇宁、
关岭、六枝 and 普定. Some of the girls will sit on sedan chairs when going to the groom's family. Others will ride on horse backs and some of them are carried by their brother on their back in the company of other girls in her tribe but she would not enter the male family that day and will stay elsewhere and will wait till the next day to enter the groom's family when they will pay respects to groom's ancestral tablets. According to their customs, they cannot marry people with the same surname nor of a different generation and certain families with certain surnames are prohibited from marrying each other e.g those surnamed Donkey (盧) and those surnamed horse (馬) in 镇宁扁担山and those surnamed Yu, Ho, Wai, Luk ( 余、何、韦、陆) because in ancient times, they came from the same stock. They got a very special way of courting. After the harvest, all the unmarried girls of the village will gather together in a hill on one side and all the eligible bachelors will stand on the other side of the hill and the intending groom will send along his elder or younger sister as a "silver bird" bringing gifts to the girl he has in mind and will sing a song to the effect that she is the messenger of her brother's love for the targeted girl, will give her a blue cloth, hoping that the blue cloth will get colored and shine. If the girl doesn't like the boy, she will also sing another song to refuse but if she likes the boy, she will smile and the two will  come out and go up the hill together where they will sing to each other again in the part of the customs called  "榔梢”, meaning "meeting friends. Their custom is that even after the marriage, the the wife will continue to stay with her own maternal family ("不落夫家") but the husband will have certain "visiting" rights.



Some of the ladies selling their tea leaves and tin-chat related medicine.

A primitive paper lanterns of the village of Yunnan ladies tribe

An image, probably the totem of the tribe.

Some leaves at the village.

And some flowers.

The demonstration centre for the medicine manufacturing zone of Chung Shan. In this centre, we got a chance to learn about the modernization of various traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Most promoted is tin chat, which takes at least three years to produce its first useable roots and 7 years to reach its full medicinal efficacy.  

A sculpture of a DNA molecule outside the the demonstration centre?

We were shown photos of what what various commonly used Chinese herbal medicine plants look like.

The tin chat plant.

A fuller view of the magical tin chat.

Before breakfast, I walked around the vicinity of the hotel.

Before breakfast, I went out of the hotel to have a look. I saw this man smoking a "water filter pipe" using surprise, surprise, a "metal" pipe!

Even side streets are lined with trees.

The very wide pedestrian pavement along the main boulevard.

Some unusual looking fan shaped palms along the side of the pavement.

There are also some more traditional style buildings.

One of the many newer buildings in Chung Shan in the early light.

Other new buildings along the main boulevard.

This is the building of the Bureau of Public Security!

A young man sitting doing nothing on a bench along the boulevard.

This is how they help finance social security for the old, the orphans, the physically and financially handicapped.

Very modern looking rubbish bins, for recyclable and non-recyclable garbage.

The buses looks quite new.

This is how they water the trees along the boulevard.

Before leaving the hotel I took some photographs as mementos.

The lift lobby.

A sculpture at the end wall of the lift lobby

The hotel lobby.

The space above patio type cafe-restaurant.

The ceiling light of the hotel lobby.

More ceiling light of the hotel lobby.

A glass sculpture at a table of the cafe restaurant

A larger flower at the centre of the cafe restaurant.

Reflection of light on the surface of the fountain at the cafe restaurant.

More pattern of the same reflection.

Some other patterns.

Some smoke-like patterns.

Some more patterns.

Really delicate patterns.

Patterns meeting each other.

Patterns losing contact.

One pattern chasing another. But as always, people are even more interesting.

Before I left the hotel, I took a coffee at a nearby Starbucks. These are the wall paintings at the shop.

A very friendly fruit seller who offered some free fruit to me.

The lady busy helping to select good ones for a customer.

What a naturally happy woman!

An unhappy seller. No one approached him! Looking at his expression, I am not surprised.