photo of Chinese woman northeast and southwest China
china
 
GLOSSARY
China glossary

Natuo

(CHINA 15 - Southwest)

Sex

Female

Age

70-80

Occupation

Farmer

Location

Mengba village, Lancang county, Yunnan

Date

23 April 1997

 

transcript

In the afternoon of 23 April 1997, a (Lahu) former Party official of Muga township and the township womenís officer, and I Ė the three of us came to Mengba village, which was 3 km from the township centre (where the market and government offices are). When we entered the village, there was no one around. It was very quiet and still. After a while, we met a woman who helped Natuo to buy some home-brewed spirit (made from rice or maize). She said, "Natuo is back from helping others in their work.Ē
Section 1
Aunt, do you know what your name is?
I'm Natuo.

How old?
I don't know if I have passed 80. I cannot see clearly, [things are] very blurred.

Where do you live?
Team 5, Mengnuo.
Section 2
Where did you go today?
Today I have been to help people planting rice seedlings.

You are old - why do you still plant the rice seedlings for others?
No one would work for me if I didn't go. This time I helped them; then later when there is water in my paddy, others will come to help me. We exchange our work.

How many people are there in your family?
There is only one son in my family - he hasn't found a wife. He's at the age, but he didn't look for one, and he didn't work well. He goes to build houses with others and earn a meal there.

When did your husband die?
My husband died when there was no co-operative and people started to work for themselves (when the household responsibility system began); he died of disease.

Didn't you remarry?
I married one man. This child I had with my second husband. He died too. My daughter was married. The other son of mine has divided from the family and now lives apart.

Did your second husband come to live in your family?
He came to live in my family.

Didn't your husband bring his stuff when he came?
He didn't bring anything. Only two years later he brought a cow here. Later when the co-operative was established, this cow was handed out to the co-operative, and it gave us 60 yuan, which could buy a cotton quilt and left 10 yuan for other uses.

How did you earn your living in the past?
When the cooperative scheme was promoted, we went into the mountain to pick wild herbs to eat. I usually went with a group of 10 or so to collect the edible wild herbs. We boiled them with one liang (50 grams) of rice as rice soup, as our meals. The same wild herb plant would be picked three times. I picked the first time, she picked the second time, and then I picked it again. You couldnít pick any more from it after the third time as you had reached the roots. We lived like that. Later came the commune system, we worked together and shared food, and eventually we had rice to eat.

Aunt! Why did we Lahu people come to settle in this place?
This village? Old people settled here long time ago. We live here from generation to generation.

Do you know the story of settling in this place?
I don't know. When I was at the age of knowing things, our forefathers Ah Bi and Duojieba had already been buried in the village Nanbenjialian. Now, even their tombs have been trodden flat under a road. The village head of that generation was also dead. We may be the third generation since then. I don't even know how to talk of it. But the life now is easy. Chat for a while, and sip some alcohol (home-brewed spirit made from rice or maize). I like drinking and it makes me happy.
Section 3
Aunt, to live in the mountain and to live in the beizi (plains) - which one is better? Why do the Lahu people only live in the mountains?
Of course, it's better to live on the beizi. In the beizi, there are large plots of paddy, while in the mountains the plots are mostly fragmented and small. However, our predecessors have been living here. In the beizi, whatever you plant, it yields; while in the mountains, itís harsh for any planting, the land is infertile. Some labour and get food; some labour but in vain. Iím still thinking that we stay here because this is where we belong.

Did you carry the corn in your land back home by yourself?
I carried them back by myself. Very tiring, the slope is very steep.

Where will you go for a doctor when you get sick? Do you go to the hospital?
I seek help in our village. I had been to the hospital two years ago. Now I donít go to the hospital.

Do you know any herbal medicine?
No. I know a bit but my eyes are not good, I would not be able to find them (the herbs).

What kind of herbal medicine do you know?
For the common diseases, I can find some herbal medicine to cure - such as flu, or soreness and pain in feet and hands.

Will you give herbs to your friends?
For some common diseases, I will give them some when relatives and friends request.

What are the changes in your village between the past and present?
In the past, the time of Guomindang (when the Nationalist Party was fighting the Communist Party Ė 1940s or early 1950s), the forests and everywhere were in chaos. In the dark, we all were afraid - we even put two doors together as the gate [to the village or to her home]. Now people won't go to those places [not clear]. We have been there to pick stones. Now there aren't many trees in the village. Now young people's life is good and easy. Since there is the grinding (milling) machine, people don't need to pound [grain by hand]. They get up late in the morning; the Han and Lahu are the same. However, itís the old people who still get up early to fetch water and prepare meals. They (younger people) can eat immediately after the old people come back.

Do the old people educate the youngsters?
Yes, they educate them. By fighting, you cannot win them. Now water is connected to the village, people don't have to carry [it]. In the past, people had to get up before dawn to fetch water. There were no tractors, or buses. Now I see them with my eyes though I haven't taken a ride. In the past, Lahu people didnít know how to build tiled houses; now we have learned from the Han, and we build tiled houses.
Section 4
When there were no hospitals, what kind of diseases did you come across?
Most diseases [in the past] were malaria. Some people had malaria for three years; they drank dogís blood - the blood from slitting the male dogís ear, which was done by the women. They poured boiling water onto it and drank it. Some recovered then. After the coming of the Communist Party, hospitals were established. The hospital gave out medicine and people got well after taking the medicine. There is no malaria now. In the past, there were people who died of smallpox and measles. There were also people who died of bleeding from the anus. Now these diseases have been got rid off.

What kinds of diseases are there now?
Now there are many diseases of pigs, chickens and dogs. My grandma's family had three dogs born but all died. The chickens got sick and some time later they died.

How about diseases in people?
There were people who died of diseases. People got sick, lost energy, they didn't eat, and after a longer time they died. I don't know what kind of disease it was.

Do people have longer life now than in the past?
There were more old people in the past. Now there are not many old people around, only seven or eight of them. I don't know what they died of. There were old people who died after having a meal.

Isn't the water, soil and climate the same as in the past?
The same. However after the earthquake (date?), some places where water used to come out have no water now, but there are also few places where no water came out which do have running water now. Some places are just being transformed into fields. The amount of [clean?] water that can be drunk is very little. Year, day, probably [not clear] died so far.

What are the differences between the mountains of the past and present?
They are the same. In the past, an official saw a wild animal squatting in the village. He cried out. Later the official's leg was broken. There were tigers and leopards in the mountains but they were hunted off.

Did the old people make by hand many Lahu traditional clothes and bags in the past? And the songs? Have they been transmitted from generation to generation?
They have been transmitted from generation to generation.

How did people dye cloth in the past?
They bought 20 yuan of cotton back, picked out the cotton seeds before fluffing the cotton. After fluffing, they made it into cotton reels which were as big as a thumb but hollow inside. Then they used the spinning wheel to spin them into thread. They spun throughout days and nights. Then they put two threads together to spin as one. After this process, the thread would become very strong. It would be woven into a piece of Lahu white cloth. They filtered water with some grass ashes into a bottle. Then they would soak the Nanding plant, which was planted by themselves, in the bottle. After the water became black, they took out the Nanding plant (Nanding means dark blue and green) and kept the water closed in the bottle. They used their hands to stir the water every day, doing it like this. The water would become very black. Then the water was left to precipitate (the sediment would sink to the bottom) and the clear water at the top would be poured out. The white cloth would be put into the bottle, soaked for a day and then taken out and the excess water got rid of. They folded the cloth into a small bundle and using a well-trimmed wooden stick (4 fingers wide and 1.5 feet long) beat it several times, and dried it under the sun. Then the beaten and dried cloth had to be soaked in the bottle again. Repeating this process a few times, the cloth would become dark, thick and solid as our special Lahu cloth. We use this kind of cloth to make Lahu clothes and bags.
Section 5
How do you make the Lahu bags?
The Lahu bags - we use the Lahu cloth and cut it into the size you want, then we use some red, yellow, green and other colours of cloth and lace to sew on the big piece of Lahu cloth, and sew with lace and so on. After sewing the main body of the bag, we use two threads of red, yellow, black, white and green to weave as a three-finger-wide strip and sew it on the bag. Then it will become a bag [made] of strips. We can make one strip per day.

How long does it take to make a piece of Lahu clothing?
In the past, it took us three days time to sew one.

Do you still know how to sew?
Yes, but itís just my eyes are not good; I cannot see things clearly.

How do you sew the Lahu clothes?
Firstly, you cut out some pieces of Lahu cloth suitable for making clothes, then use strips of cloth of red, green, yellow, pink, black and white, and some Lahu-made lace to sew on the pieces of cloth for the shoulder, the front, the back and the collar. Now if you have got a sewing machine, the sewing will be done much quicker. And you put laces of different colours at the cuff and in the middle of the sleeves. Some even put lace at the edges of the front and back pieces. Finally, you sew on the buttons - then [an item of] Lahu clothing is finished. Itís very comfortable to wear!

Aunt, where did you learn the skills of sewing clothes and making bags?
When the old people sewed, I learned from them. How they made it, I did the same. Now the price of thread is very high, and most people wear Han clothes. Han clothes aren't as warm as Lahu ones. The old generation wears only Lahu clothes. Lahu clothes are better than the Hanís. If you wear [a Lahu garment] and go to plant rice seedlings, it keeps your knees warm.

At what age did you learn to sew clothes and make bags?
I learned at the age of 14 or 15. But I couldn't make them until I was 17 or 18.

Are there any Lahu women who donít know how to sew Lahu clothes?
One by one they didnít know how to sew, they got old and died.

If they donít know how to sew, then who sews for them to wear?
Their friends sew for them.
Section 6
How does someone feel about not knowing how to sew?
She can't sew, but she can spin thread, weave cloth. Every year we have to weave 5 to 6 zhang of cloth (16-20 metres: 1 zhang equals 3.33 metres). People who don't know how to sew go to work. The old people help them sew; they exchange their labour in this way.

What kinds of women were regarded as capable in the past?
Those who had the whole set of skills of printing and drawing on cloth, spinning and weaving, who were skilful in sewing, [who were] productive and worked hard, who were careful in calculation and good at budgeting, hardworking and thrifty, kept the family in harmony - these kinds of women would be regarded as capable.

How would a woman be regarded as a good wife?
Those who sew clothes well, care about and are willing to look after their father- and mother-in-law, who are able to maintain a harmonious relationship between husband and wife, who can do field work well - these wives would be regarded as good.

Do you still weave cloth now?
I don't weave now. One reason is because I have no money to buy the thread - besides, there are many who sell clothes, so you don't have to weave by yourself. Some women still weave cloth. Most of the young people now donít know how to weave cloth. You just have to labour for others for four to five days, then you can buy a piece of clothing to wear.

Can you sing Lahu songs? How do you sing?
I'm afraid I cannot sing.

You can sing. You sing what you sang.
[She sang happily.] I sang that you are not afraid of crossing thousands of rivers and tens of thousands of mountain ranges to come to see us here in Muga, you chat with me, and buy alcohol for me, I could die of happiness!

Where do the young people learn the songs from? Do the elderly teach them?
The young people like to listen to the people who sing well. They listen from time to time and learn. But still, some of them can sing and some can't. He could sing if he could remember; he couldn't sing if he couldnít remember. The elderly donít teach [them].

Can everyone sing?
Most people can sing. Usually people sing after drinking, or sing while they drink.

What are the contents of the songs?
People sing best after theyíve drunk. Now most people donít know how to sing the songs of the Spring Festival (major national festival every January or February, depending on the lunar calendar). When people work they sing work songs. When young women and men go out to have fun, they sing love songs. When people send off the spirits (family and other spirits), they sing spirit songs. When people die, [others] sing laments.
Section 7
What kinds of festivals do you have?
Old people passed on [the tradition of] the Spring festival. After the Communist Party came, we have also celebrated the Gourd Festival. Others are the New Rice Festival, the Fire Torch Festival and the small New Year [on the 15th day of the month]. Now we don't celebrate the Moon festival. We use to celebrate the 15th day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar; we don't celebrate it now. During the Gourd Festival, some people pound rice cake, some donít.

When would you carry out the ritual for requesting blessings?
In August, if the crops don't grow well. The family who requests blessings needs to prepare rice and share it with others. When the crops are ripe, but you are ill, you still need to request blessings. However, you can do this at home. After the action of requesting blessings, one had to fasten a ďcall-the-spiritĒ thread, but we don't do it now.

What is this corner that you keep in the house?
This is the place for burning joss sticks, to burn joss sticks to the god of your house. This ritual is passed on to us from the older generations, so we burn the joss sticks. Even when we have no pain and no disease, we still have to burn the joss sticks in the direction of sunrise. All the traditions passed on by our older generations - we have to maintain them. As for burning joss sticks, weíll burn when we remember; we wonít if we forget.

Do people like to wear Lahu clothes now? Why?
Some people wear them but some don't. [Sings]
Take the cotton; use my hands to weave clothes.
We wear them and we feel warm.
Wearing the robe, our necks and shoulders feel warm.
Wearing the clothes we feel warm.
Covering our head with a veil we are beautiful.
Now you come here, crossing thousands of rivers and tens of thousands of mountain ranges.
You come to bring us old people sweets and alcohol.
You are the good ones.

[Translated from the song]

The youngsters wander around everywhere to have fun. What exactly do they play in the evening?
Watching TV, videos and chatting. Young men and young women get together. They go to see movies when movies are on.

Do you go to watch TV?
Now my eyes are too bad to see.

Why is that people exchange labour?
One person is not able to finish cultivating a plot of land; several people doing together finish it quickly. Doing it in a group heightens your motivation, so we exchange our labour.
Section 8
Do you pay for the people who help you?
Some are merely exchanging labour; some are paid. Lahu people who help each other only get 5 yuan.

Did you ever help in other peopleís work?
I have been to help Han people and they gave me 6 yuan, some only gave 5 yuan.

Did they provide meals?
They didn't provide meals but they gave you a small amount of alcohol.

Are there many young people in this village going out to work for other people?
There are - sometimes the whole village would go.

Do many people go to faraway places to work?
They do. There are a few of them at this end of the village, a few at the other end.

How many mu (1 mu equals 0.067 hectares) of land does your family have?
We have 2 mu. They receive no water; they are leixiang fields (non-irrigated). They can only be farmed up to May and June when it rains. The rice seedlings were planted two days ago. There is no water in the field. The income of last year was only 3.... Planted when there was no water, the yield will be low.

Do your children help in the field?
They go for waged labour (in farming) for others; they don't work in our field.

When your daughter got married, as a wife did she have a share of the land [from her husbandís family]?
No. There were people who exchanged paddy land (land which can hold water and be used to grow paddy) for a plot of dry land (dry or sloping land which canít hold water). Some people use paddy land to build houses. [Translatorís comment: This seems a little strange Ė paddy land is so precious, being the main way to secure the staple food of rice, that it is very rare for anyone to exchange it or use for anything else.]

The number of people is increasing - do they reallocate the land?
No.

What are your worries now?
My fields have no water; others do have. I don't have enough rice for ourselves; we can only eat by helping other people in their work. Iím very anxious.

Don't you worry about having shelter to live in (a roof over your head)?
I have a place to live that keeps away the rain. Itís fine for me. I don't worry about it.

When you had difficulties, did you ever go to request help from the officials in the government?
I didn't.
Section 9
So what would you do when you donít have enough food?
I borrow from other people who have excess grain. I repay them when mine ripens.

What would you eat when you couldn't borrow from the villagers?
One liang of rice could be one meal, together with some vegetables - we live like that.

Did you ever experience a time when there was nothing to eat in the family?
No. At least we would always have one liang of rice for a meal; we never totally run out of rice.

Do you have buffaloes, pigs and chickens at home?
I have none of them. Chickens and pigs all died. We have no money to buy any; we are not able to raise them.

Do many people raise pigs and chickens in the village?
They raised pigs that died easily. Many people donít have livestock. People will raise pigs if they have money; they don't raise any if they donít have money.

How did you deal with the dead pigs and chickens?
We ate them. Lahu people would eat them.

Weren't you afraid of the infectious diseases?
No. In the past, Lahu people didn't eat dog meat, but now many of them eat this.

Would you kill pigs and eat them when you celebrate the Spring Festival?
We didn't kill any pigs.

Do other people kill pigs for the Festival?
Yes, probably one family would kill one and eat it.

For many years havenít you killed a pig during the Spring Festival? So far, how many pigs have you killed for the Festival?
In the past, when I wasn't sick, I raised one pig each year and killed it by [the time of] the Festival. Now I haven't raised pigs for five to six years. However, when my daughter killed a pig, she would give some to me.

How often can you eat meat now?
If I have money I want to buy meat every week. Having no money, you wonít be able to eat meat even for 10 weeks. Sometimes I go to help with the work of other people, or by picking tea leaves to sell, so I can buy 5 liang of meat to eat.

Is it enough for one meal?
Enough for a meal for my son and me.

Do you still go to the market?
Yes. I go to sell tea leaves.
Section 10
How long does it take for you to go to the market?
I set off at dawn, and can arrive back home at dusk.

What do you carry to the market? What do you buy?
Sometimes I have nothing to sell, so I just go to buy some salt.

Where did you get the money to the market?
Sometimes by selling some tea leaves; sometimes I got some money from helping with othersí work. If I have 5 yuan, I can go to the market twice. If I couldn't buy anything to eat, I would just buy some salt. And pick up some firewood on the way back home.

Is it difficult to go to the market?
I can still go (manage it). When I come back after crossing the river, I can take off my clothes and carry them back.

Is the ground here?
Ground (?), when I married the first husband I lived down there, where the team 5 leader Zha Nuga lived. After my husband died, the place where the tiled-house was built, I have one aunt lives there, I found a husband there.

What did you eat when you had no rice?
Rice, we could [always] eat. One liang of rice for one person, we ate with some wild herbs.

What are the differences in the village between the past and the present?
In the past, we went out to fetch water before dawn and hadn't come back even when the sun was high. Nowadays the water is pumped directly into the house. In the past, we got up to pound the rice before dawn. Now, we don't have to pound rice anymore, we de-husk it beforehand and keep it till morning for cooking. We don't need to pound the rice now. Young people sleep more, and think that they can eat whenever they get up. To pound rice was a hard job. People either cut a thick wood stick, or used their feet to tread it, for pounding. Since the Communist Party came, Lahu people donít have to pound rice anymore.

Now that young people donít know how to weave cloth, sew Lahu clothes and Lahu bags, don't you worry?
I don't worry. There are many Han clothes available [laughs]. But they are a bit too short. The clothes donít cover your waist when you carry firewood on your back [laughs].

How do Lahu people celebrate the 15th of the eighth month of the lunar calendar?
The 15th of the eighth month of the lunar calendar is when food is offered to the sun and the moon. We cooked melons as an offering, peeled pears as an offering, gave pineapples as an offering, gave bananas as an offering. We don't see people celebrate this festival anymore. In the past, we pulled up the green bean plants, picked out the beans, pounded them and made them into soup as an offering.
Section 11
Grandma, what kinds of benefits were there after the road has been built? Would you like to say something on this?
The road is good; it's good for the village. But it brings with it pig diseases and chicken diseases. Of course, it's easier for walking Ė thereís a big road, no barrier and no blocks wherever you go. Yes, itís good.

Since the road was built, have you ever taken the bus?
I haven't taken the bus.

Didn't you take it when you went down there?
Last year, that Maluo man (a man from Maluo) who was from the brick and tile factory drove the tractor here, so I got to take the tractor twice.

What feeling did you have after riding?
[All laugh] Bumpy! It bumped up to this height! This height!

Is it better to take the tractor or to walk?
It's better to take the tractor - you would not get tired at all. [All laugh]

Has your man taken the tractor?
No.

A large area of the green forest has been cut, what do you think about that?
The trees and woods now belong to the Communist Party. To cut the lumber to build houses probably is a good method. In the past, the old people didn't know about using lumber in this way. Some knew about it and maintained the trees; it was good.

Don't you want to take the lead in getting young people to plant trees?
Plant trees? I think I probably couldn't make use of the trees. I don't want to plant [laughs].

You don't want to plant trees?
I want to plant! [Laughs] Children are the future, I save them for the children. I want to plant.

The forests have all been destroyed - where do you go to get wood?
I don't know. I won't cut the trees and will save them for the children. I don't know what will happen to the trees if I die today or tomorrow.

Now in your village you will go to other peopleís house to perform jiaohun (literally ďcalling the spiritĒ). Can you show us how do you do it?
Iíve forgotten [laughs]. Itís not only me who knows how to do jiaohun; there are three to six other people who know about it. I also learned from others.
Section 12
How did you learn from others?
As the other people said, I followed what they said. I asked the dead old person to bring back its spirit. I asked it to drink and eat, then take back its ghost. I told it that its children and grandchildren were not well, they could not sleep well, could not live well. These were the things that had to be told to the dead old person. I asked it not to bother its descendants. They gave you good food. Then I put some salt into a bowl, then added rice, cigarette and tea - we sent away spirits in this way.

What did you do if the dead person's spirit had been scared away?
[Laughs] I called the ghost back immediately when it was scared off and fell down [in fright]. I called, ďCome back, come back, don't stay there. Come back and listen to what your dad and mum wanted to say to you. You'll get wet in the rain, be exposed to the sun if you stay there. Come back, come back. The insect scares you, the ant scares you, but don't be afraid. Come back and put on clothes and have meals. Come back, come back, come back!Ē

What did you use when you call the ghosts?
I put rice in a bowl, put an egg on top of it, and took out one [item] of the dead personís clothes. I used a ďcall-the-spiritĒ thread that was brought by the family, and then called the ghost, ďYou follow the white thread and black thread and come back, follow your clothes to come. The sun won't shine on you and the rain won't wet you.Ē

What was the next step?
After this was done, the jiaohun thread (spirit thread) would be tied for him, the joss sticks would be burned for the god of the house, the god of the house begged not to hurt him, the sun and the moon asked to protect him.

How many years had you done this?
Only two to three months.

Should be more than that?
No, it was only two to three months.

How many people's ghosts had you called?
Five to six people; some did it after they got drunk.

Who came to ask you?
The host came to ask me. I went to call for him. This was a kind of politeness.

Did the people get well after this?
They would get well. People who couldn't eat could then eat; those who couldn't work could then work.

Do you still do it now?
Yes.

Where did you learn it from?
I didn't go anywhere to learn it. I saw how the old people did it; then I added in some of my ideas. The old people said like this and then I learned to follow.
Section 13
Would you teach your children and grandchildren to do it?
I wonít teach them. We Lahu people wonít teach people to do it; they have to learn it by themselves.

It is mostly done by men, you are a woman - how come that you had the idea of doing it?
In the past, my daughter had been sick for two years, I couldn't afford to ask for help. People used the broom to blow (sweep?) for a while, or used water to blow on it for a while, then the sickness had been blown out. My daughter was sick for two years; I couldn't spare time for work. I went to invite the person to come. For only one morning I paid him 200 yuan; he blew on some water and sprinkled it about, then he left. He didn't come when I went to ask him again. I was angry about that so I learned it by myself.

Will you teach your children and grandchildren about it?
All my children and grandchildren - they saw and have learned. What I have said tonight, they will pick up the tool I used and learn to blow it tomorrow. Children who have attended school learn even more quickly.

When did you learn it?
My daughter got sick for two years, and I started to learn from that year on. In 1986, my daughter was very sick - she received much treatment but still looked affected by dropsy. I took her to the hospital in Shangyu twice but she didn't get well. I spent a lot of money. I couldn't live in this house even though it was built. I couldn't sleep for five to six nights.

How many kinds of spiritual practice do you know?
One of them that I have spoken of just now is to call the spirit for sick people. Another one is to make happiness. One kind needs four people singing together - they sing when people die. They sing when old people die, to bring back the dead personís spirit. Though the person is dead, they will bless you with pigs, with chickens - through the chicken they can make changes in your life, you just have to kill the chicken. Look at the chicken divination symbols. ...

Will young people do this?
Young people know how to say the words. Even the child speaks those words for fun while he is grazing cattle.

Oxfam promotes hybrid paddy. Does your family try it?
I don't plant it. The time to grow paddy in my field has passed. The family up above my field grew the hybrid paddy, the water was used up by his family and [so] couldn't reach mine, and the time for growing hybrid paddy in my field thus passed.

Grandma, what do you want to do?
I want to do it. If there is water in my fields, when it's warm I want to try the hybrid paddy. Nevertheless, I was not able to do it.
Section 14
How about other aspects?
I want to raise pigs, but couldn't find any money. The piglets sold for less than 100 yuan each Ė they wonít grow big. I want to raise chickens too, I want to raise them but am afraid that they will fall sick and die. If I had daughters and sons, I would go together with them to live and eat in the mountain so as to be nearer to the fields, and then we can raise chickens and pigs. I guess my life would be better then. But now I don't have a companion, my eyes cannot see, I have no other choice so I can only live like this.

What do you do when you don't have to work?
I will collect firewood, pick tea leaves, I donít have time to rest.

Do you grow vegetables?
No, I cannot do that.

What do you do when you don't pick tea leaves and don't collect firewood?
I will be free when I don't have to do these things.

Do you want to teach your children how to make handicrafts?
They donít need to be taught. Some people do better than I do. [laughs] Some people will teach and will learn by themselves.

Do you grow mountain grain (dry or un-irrigated paddy)?
Yes. When growing dry paddy, men plough the land and women do the digging. Sometimes men will help with the digging, and burn the weeds before sowing. When the seeds germinate, weeds come up too. Women will then weed. The life of Lahu people is harsh and bitter like this - we wonít [ever] be free.

What are the differences between growing dry paddy and the variety you grew before?
Now we use chemical weed killer when growing dry paddy, we don't have to weed. The Xiangwei field (place name? or meaning a field of reeds) is not suitable for the hybrid seeds.

Was the field more fertile in the past or is it more fertile now?
The field was not fertile so we needed to dig manure holes. We don't dig manure holes now. The scientific techniques of planting boost the yield. We get more grain. It's much better now. Life is not as hard as before.

What else do you want to say?
Nothing more!

Just say anything you like?
I donít know what to say [laughs]. Canít think of anything.

Just sing if you want to sing!
[Translation of the song]
I'm old, the sun, the moon I saw first.
At the 15th the Small Spring Festival, after the Spring Festival, we sow seeds.
We labour on the farm, labour on the field,
we plant and we get rice to eat.
Next time, we will plough and rake,
labour on the farm and labour on the field,
we follow and give our labour to the farm and the field
and we get food to eat, ahÖohÖoh. [laughs]

You buy alcohol and food for me. I as an old woman haven't encountered this before. You are the good one. The other many friends, none of them have said, ďOld woman, you eat.Ē You serve me, eat like this, my heart feels very warm. [Everyone laughs]