Stairway to Heaven

China, Yunnan, Yuanyang
Just a moment. The one when the light marries the rice fields, the one when the drowned terraces shine…the water can sing in the canals and flow from the heights of Yuanyang.
The ‘Valley of the Purple Clouds’ opens a panorama where the sensual curves of the terraces delicately intertwine the hillsides. These agrarian wonders have been exploited for generations by the Hani minority.
The traveller will learn patience and common sense by listening to the epic story of this people who spent some 1,300 years shaping these works and imagining this extraordinary system of agricultural management under the Tang Dynasty.
This confetti of battered earth is rustic, tinted with a camaïeu of red ochres, offering themselves up to the gaze like fields of copper.  The moment is suspended! An over-sized mosaic, composed of glittering sequins with irregular shapes, reflects the lights of the sky.
The Hani have understood their exploits to be masterworks, vertiginous, in permanent mutation and, especially, nurturing! For them, these are the ‘scales that rise to paradise.’
Classified in 2013 as a World Heritage Site, these paddies rise in subtle shades and mirror the moods of the times when flooded. Not much seemed favourable to the emergence of a green market culture here. But, as Confucius said, ‘Whoever wants to move mountains starts by removing small stones.’
Text and photography by Françoise Gaujour
www.francoisegaujour.net












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