photo of Chinese woman northeast and southwest China
China glossary


(CHINA 11 - Southwest)








Cuihua village, Luquan county, Yunnan


24 April 1997



Xiuying is described as a member of Team 3 (cluster or group, made up of several households) in the Tanglangqing office, and the interview took place at the home of Zhang Chunhen, Oxfam’s extension officer here. As well as Zhang Chunhen, interviewer Gu Wenfeng was accompanied by Pan Guiqin and Li Benmei, also extension officers in Oxfam’s poverty-alleviation project in Tanglangqing.

Section 1
On the evening of 23 April, I had nothing to do after dinner. The narrator with whom I had made an appointment wouldn’t be back until it was dark. I went to the fields nearby and walked around by myself. On the way, I saw a man and a woman lowering their heads and filling nutrient bags (small bags of nutrients and rich soil used to nurture seedlings) at the roadside. I went down a few ridges, walked across a field and came to them. In fact, they were planting tobacco. The man was short, and as black as if he hadn't washed his face for days. His eyes squinted which looked odd. He sat beside the woman and passed the tobacco seedlings to her. He just squatted there with arms crossed, and watched the woman being busy. I asked him why he didn't help the woman to plant the seedlings. He said he didn’t know how to do it. I conjectured for a while in my mind. If he was the woman's husband, he didn’t look right - I couldn't guess whether he was the woman's husband or her son.

The woman, who had covered her hair with a patterned square towel from head to jaw, seemed intelligent and capable, particularly compared to the man. She was talkative. She told me that her home was just near the office. From her conversation of both laughter and scolding, I knew that this man was her husband. In our casual conversation, she touched upon many topics that I was very interested in. She said that her husband bothered her a lot, otherwise she would not have missed yesterday’s singing and dancing party. The party had been held in the government office the previous night. Because I didn't take a tape-recorder with me, and also as her husband was there and it was about to get dark, I made an appointment to see her in the field the next day. I also explained to her husband the purpose of my visit.

When I got up the next morning, I asked Xiao Zhang to take me to her home. It was no more than 400 metres from the office to Xiuying's home. When we walked down to the yard, we heard a man shouting in a gruff voice, and a woman crying. The couple were quarrelling. It was not proper for us to go into the house, so we turned back. After breakfast, we saw the couple working in the field together. I went to the field again and asked Xiuying to come to the office. Specifically, I asked to talk to her alone, away from her husband. It rained heavily that afternoon. It was very cold. At about 8 o'clock in the evening, Xiao Pan, Xiao Zhang and I came to her home with umbrellas and torches. The couple were sitting by the stove. They were very enthusiastic when they saw us. I apologised to her husband first, saying that I would like to invite his wife to come to the office to chat with us. Then I half-jokingly told him that we women like to have some heartfelt sharing and it would be good if no man was present. I promised to send her back in two hours and I told him not to worry. He happily agreed.

In the interview, I learned that her name was Xiuying. At about 11 o'clock at night we, again with umbrellas and torches, sent Xiuying back to the backyard of her house. I wanted to see her to the door, but Xiao Zhang said that there was a fierce dog nearby. And Xiuying insisted that she could go in by herself. I stood in the yard and used the torchlight to show her the way. I turned back when she entered the house. When I got up early in the morning the next day, I heard quarrelling voices from Han's house. I didn't pay attention to it. After breakfast my associates and I went to team 1 in Tanglangqing.

When we came back at about 5 in the evening, Xiao Zhang told me that Xiying came to the office crying. She said that last night, because we didn't come with her into the house [ourselves], her husband didn't trust her word that she had returned from the office. He then locked the door and wouldn't let her in. She had to climb over the wall and get into the house from upstairs. The man quarrelled with her the whole night, and wanted to burn the umbrella she took with her. He also said that he would come to settle up with Oxfam. Xiuying said that if it was not for the two girls of Oxfam, she would have left [home?] already. She was afraid that her husband would come to bother those two girls after she left. After I heard this, I was full of regret and blamed myself for my ignorance in the matter. I felt deeply sorry for, and helpless to assist, Xiuying who was so hardworking, capable and kind.

Han Xiuying talked to us as she was weaving gunny cloth (made from flax or hemp).

Let me see, it was two years ago that he beat me so seriously. I fought with him and I won. When he failed, he did not dare to beat me again. Now I have lost my fingers. [The four fingers of her right hand were severed by a fodder-cutting machine.] He said I had no strength to fight him back now, so he beat me. He said my hand had no strength.
Section 2
Where are you from?
I'm from Songming.

How did you get to know him?
Well, we two - my dad (father-in-law) is my [own] mum's brother. He's my cousin.

Oh, your own cousin?
Mu (yes), my own cousin.
Section 3
Is your mum your father-in-law's sister?
En! Otherwise how would I come so far to marry here?

Yours is a love marriage, isn’t it?
Ai, it could be said to be a love marriage. But both parents applied pressure. My elder brother went to visit his family, and then our two families got connected. They came to talk it over with my parents. I didn't agree but my parents did. My dad said it was hard to reject him - you are regarded as given to his family. He just said those words.

Oh, didn't you want to come?
Mu, I said I had been here once. It was very far, it was too far away.

How long does it take to walk from your parent’s home?
Well, if you start off at 6 o'clock in the morning, you won’t get to the house until 6 o'clock in the afternoon. A whole day.

What's your name?
My name is Xiuying.

How old are you?
I'm old. This year I'm 35.

What's your animal year? [reference to the Chinese system of certain years being identified with particular animals and their characteristics]

If you were born in the year of the rabbit, I'm afraid you are not 35.
They said I'm 35 already. I don't know.

[You must be] 34. From when I talked to you yesterday, it seemed that you know some herbal medicines?
Ei, those herbal medicines I knew of? They are of no use! [Laughs.] Not mentioning (let alone) you who come from outside, even those Han people living in my village don’t know what the herbs are and they said they are of no use. They asked me about the names of the herbs. I said, “I don't know, but you just take it (the herb).” If you like, I can go to find them for you. I couldn't tell you their names.” [Laughs.]

Oh, did they come to ask for herbs?
No. They said they had abdominal pains that wouldn't get better. I said there were some medicinal herbs that could help. I told him. He asked, "What are they?" I said, "Ai, I cannot tell. My mum knows. I cannot tell."

Do other Miao women know about taking this kind of herbal medicine when they have abdominal pain?

Can you tell me in Miao language?
In Miao it is Da Ga Wang Zhi Lu.
Section 4
Can you say it once more?
Da Ga Wang Zhi Lu.

[The other companions repeat it]: Da Ga Wang Zhi Lu. I don't know how to say it in Chinese either.
You boil it with eggs if you have diarrhoea.

Boil or fry?
Boil. Beat it in a bowl. When my mum had diarrhoea, she took western medicines but couldn't get well. Then I cooked the herbs for her. There are many of those herbs in our village.

Are there any women in the village who specially look for these herbs?
There isn't anyone. When one gets sick and cannot get well, one goes and finds the herbs by him or herself. There are a few old men who pick and sell them. No woman. Women are not free.

Some women are infertile, or they don't want children. Some women have metritis (inflammation of the uterus) after they have had children. For all these conditions I have heard we Miao women have medicines?
Well, I don't know if there are any. Even if there are some, it depends whether it can help someone to get better. You see my family has no children. People found some herbs for me to take but they were no use.

Oh, you don't have children?
En. It didn’t help even when they had found some herbs.

Is it your problem or his?
Ei, maybe it's mine.

Have you had a check-up?

You should go to have a check-up.
I don't need to check. In these years, my mum and my dad said that now people couldn’t have more than one or two children. I said it was not important whether you have children or not. I always have pain again after a few normal days.

Do you have pain?

Where do you feel the pain?
When I have a period, my pain is so serious that I cannot get up.

Oh, you have pain when you have period?

Is it painful at usual times?
Not painful at usual times. Well, once a month. There are not many easy days. It starts to get painful before I get well. There is pain in the waist and abdomen.
Section 5
You can go to have a check-up at the town hospital?
Let me see…on the twelfth month of the lunar year, we two (my husband and me) came back from my eldest sister's place. We had some money left. I said, “Since we are here, let us go to see the doctor.” He said, “What problems do you have? You are not sick.” I said, “I have many problems. How come you say I have no problem? You do not feel the pain so you said I have no sickness. I'm painful to death (it’s so painful I could die).” I said that to him. He said, “Probably the doctors are off now.” I said, “How could the hospital close?” My elder sister also said, “It's 5 o'clock now. Maybe the doctors are off already.” By saying that, we came back. The money was used up for inviting guests later. I cannot help this.

In fact, this doesn't cost much money.
Yi, like my sickness, it would take at least 500 to 600 yuan to do the treatment. Can you believe it? They told us that our women’s officer (responsible for coordinating all the government’s assigned tasks among women) in the village office said, “You'd better go to have a check-up. It doesn’t help if you don't go for a check.” I said, “My family only have money to smoke and drink. There is no money for medical treatment.” [Laughs]

How many years have you been married?
I married early, it was...

When did you get married?
At the age of 18.

Was your man then like he is now?

I thought he drinks...
Ah, he didn't drink before. He has been acting badly like that for seven to eight years. In the past, like I told you yesterday, he wouldn't scold me wherever I went. [But] In recent years, you simply can’t go anywhere. He even didn't allow me to visit friends in team 2 (cluster or group, made up of several households). Whenever he came back, he wanted me to come back.

Why does he interfere with you like that? What is he afraid of?
Who knows! What is he afraid of? He's afraid of nothing. He just said he had no companion.

Are all our Miao men like this?
Oh, only few. We have three teams, but only my man is like that.

What's the reason for your quarrels?
Just because of drinking alcohol. We don't quarrel if he doesn't drink.

Did he drink this morning?
This morning... Ai, he drinks once. It would take seven to eight days for him to get better.
Section 6
Because you have no child, are there people who look down on you?
There are. People in this village look down on me, and my family looks down too. We two often quarrel because of this. I said that I had heard something on the radio. It said there was a doctor in Beijing who can do some treatment for the problem. I said that I didn’t know how to get there. They always say that “below your nose, there is a road to Beijing” (“every road leads to Rome”). I told him about that. He said, “Oh, do you mean you want to go to look for that doctor?” I said, “What I can do? My brother-in-law is in Kunming. I can find him. Once I find him, he has a way to take me to find the doctor.” He said, “Ai, it needs several thousand yuan.” I said it's worth it, even if it needs 4000 to 5000 yuan.

How do you know people look down on you for not having a child?
Well, every day people said, “Your family has no child, so not much land would be allocated to you.” That's looking down on me. The fields of our team haven't been adjusted. In the past, my mum’s family had six people; the daughters were all married and left. Now my mum only has us two. She has an only son, just the one son, so we were allocated some land. They said that.

How about within your family? What's that about? You said the family looked down on you.
The family looks down on me because I have no child.

How did they say it to you?
What they said everyday is that I have no child, and I'm not as good as the other people.

Who said that?
Ai, my mum and her family said that, and my man says that too. He won't say it when he's not angry. When he's angry, he dares to say anything. “You will scold others when you are angry. I asked you to keep the house for a few days so that I could go to find some herbal medicines. You are not free to keep the house.” I said to them.

How about yourself? How do you look at it yourself?
Myself? I think it's better to have a child, so that the people in the village won't bully us, and the family won't have fights. My eldest brother had one child that exceeded the family planning quota (certain minority groups are now allowed two children providing the second is born after an agreed interval). He gave the child to us to raise. After that, we didn’t have these frequent quarrels and fights. Later - just recently - the little child had diarrhoea and has gone (died).

Oh, no longer alive?
Mu, not alive.

How old is he?
Three,just three. He was always running around everywhere.
Section 7
How old was he when you took him?
Just seven days. I took and raised him to three years old.

He got diarrhoea?
Mu, he got diarrhoea.

Didn't you say that there are some herbal medicines [for this]?
He couldn't get well. He couldn't get well by taking the herbs. He couldn't get well by taking western medicine either. I carried him down to Xinlong. They said there was a hospital in Xinlong that could treat him well. I carried him there every day. But it still couldn't cure him.

Did you carry him to Cuihua for treatment?
I had carried him to Cuihua. He was in the hospital for three days. He died on the fourth day. I went alone. My husband stayed at home and didn't go. At that time, my mum (mother-in-law) was sick and stayed at home. I went by myself. He sent me there. On the next day, I asked him to come. By the time he came, the child was seriously ill. I passed the message back to my village. Then my dad (father-in-law) and some other people came, but they didn't catch him in time.

What do you plan for your future?
Every day, every day he says he wants to divorce.

Wants to divorce?
Mu (yes).

He said this?
Mu, he says it every day. I said, “Now you said it today, and you'll say it again tomorrow. You say it all life through. You are putting forward the divorce by yourself. It's your business, not mine.”

Did you quarrel with him at the time when you took your brother's child to raise?
Yes, we quarrelled every day then. We didn't quarrel when we had the child. The child cried every day. When he was drunk he said that he had had no child. So my eldest brother gave his child to him. My brother said, “What we have is yours too. What you have is ours. How about I have one to give you?” He said that.
I was not at home when he got the child. Xuezhong asked us to go to the town when we got the child. They (Oxfam?) invited us to learn how to raise pigs and chickens, and asked me to go with them. [So] I was not at home when we got the child. When I came back the child was seven days old. They asked me to take him home. My sister-in-law asked me to take [the child?] to her home to breastfeed the baby. I said, “No. If I am going to be the mother of this baby, I will raise it by myself no matter what I have to do.”

Do you like dancing and singing?
Yes, I have liked dancing and singing since I was a little. But I was bitterly and sadly controlled by him, so - now everyone knows my situation. No one dares to ask me to dance and sing.
Section 8
Really? Nobody dares to ask you to sing and dance?
Yes, nobody. If my friends want to go somewhere far away for entertainment, they do not dare to invite me. Now, if they invited me and my husband was not at home, I would want to go. If he is at home, I would rather not go to avoid trouble afterwards. Yes, my husband once said to me that he would give up drinking if I gave up dancing and singing. Now, I listened to him. I have not only given up dancing and singing but also stopped going to church. In fact, I have stopped doing anything for myself, but he is still drinking. I once questioned him why he did not keep his promise. He said to me, “Stop drinking? Oh, like the pop song says, ‘I would rather die than stop drinking’.”

When you first were married here, did he allow you to go everywhere?
Yes. He even allowed me to go for two or three days, or four or five days. I don't know what's been going wrong these years. The older he is, the more hateful he is.

How many years has he been interfering in your life like this?
It seems it has been seven years. Just seven years......

What makes him bother you like this?
Yi, he said… like we (meaning her and the interviewer) talked last night. We Miao people are narrow-minded. So he's afraid that I would go and get involved with another man. He scolds me like that. Since then (seven years ago), he didn't allow me to go.

Did you say last night that there was a woman up there who had been asked to learn midwifery? Can you tell us more about that?
En. She's in Yuanwotang. Her man, just like mine, scolded her all the time, beat her all the time. So she gave up; she didn't go.

Has she been to study midwifery?
En, she has studied.

How long did she study?
I don't know about this. She came to the office and worked for four years.

She helped those Miao women in delivery?

Is she Miao nationality?
En, she's Miao nationality. [Colleagues explain: After this woman gave up, Tang Zailan (the current midwife, Han nationality) replaced her.] I said that we Miao people were just like this. My husband said, “If you are capable, you can go to be the women’s officer (responsible for coordinating all the government’s assigned tasks among women) in the village. And I won't scold you.” I said, “I stay at home with you every day and you scold me every day. And you even ridicule me by saying that I should learn from Tang Zailan to go out to study, to leave this place.”
Section 9
Besides the scolding, does he beat you?
En, he beats me too. He does not only beat me. He even beat my mum and my dad (mother- and father-law). He beat me because I am a daughter-in-law (meaning wife). His mum and dad came to protect me; he then beat his mum and dad.

Do your parents-in-law live by themselves?
En, they live by themselves. Two years ago, I said that because we didn’t have many people in our family - we were just four - we could live together. One of us could take care of the livestock; one could stay at home to feed pigs; the other two could go to work in the field. Five days after the Spring Festival (major national festival every January or February, depending on the lunar calendar), which we had celebrated separately, we moved into one house to live together. My mum[-in-law] and dad[-in-law] had bad luck that year: both of them were sick for more than a month. My family was poor. My second sister came to give them medical treatment and they were cured. As we lived together [with his parents], I was always the one who prepared the meals, and cooked the pig swill. When my husband was drunk, he said he didn't want his dad and mum to live together [with us]. He said that. From that time onwards, his dad and mum haven't spoken to him [or lived with us].

How many years have you lived apart?
Ei, we lived apart (separated) for 11 to 12 years already. When I came [back] to his family, we lived together [with his parents] for 3 years, and then lived apart.

Did they work their own land?
En, they worked their own land and I worked mine. During crop transplanting, my mum pastured the livestock everyday. We three, though we worked on our own land, we did share some labour.

Did you help them do the planting?
My dad led the buffalo, my husband ploughed the fields, and I sowed. Our buffalo was not good at ploughing. Our buffalo, without the help of us three, could not plough.

What do you think of those men who drink alcohol?
En, I'm not against it. It would be nice if there was no quarrel and fights after drinking.

When he quarrelled with you and said he wanted to divorce, what thoughts did you have?
It was up to him. Anyway I could make a living if I divorced. He himself couldn't live if he divorced. I didn't go to him. He came to me every day. A few years ago we two remarried.

Oh, had you divorced?
En, I had divorced.
Section 10
Where did you go to get divorced?
Ei, we divorced at home.

How did you come to divorce?
We had quarrelled and he asked me to go back to my parent’s house. My dad sent me back.

How long were you gone?
I was gone for six months. I have several uncles here in Tanglangqing village office (local government office). My husband went to force them to call me back every day. They couldn't bear it and came to ask me to go back. Now he says I came back because I couldn't find another man to marry. I said, “Is that the case? You said I came back because I could not get married. Do you believe I'll get married with another member of your family?” From that time onwards, he hasn't allowed me to go out.

Did you go through any official procedures when you divorced?
No. I just left and went back to my parents’ house. They said it was unnecessary to go through any procedures, as we had no marriage certificate.

Didn't you apply for the marriage certificate when you married him?
Well, we were not at the right age when we got married, so we didn't get the marriage certificate. We married when he was 19 and I was 18.

You should have gone to apply for it when you came to the right age [21].
We two did go to the office to apply but they wanted to fine us 70 yuan - 70 yuan as a fine, and 10 yuan for buying two marriage certificates. I cannot remember, they said there wasn't… [stops]

What did you do when he beat you?
I ran away when he beat me.

Where did you escape to?
I ran out. I ran out for a while. When he had gone to look for me, I came back. [Laughs] I locked the door. I climbed over the wall into the room to sleep. He had been looking for me. Last night he was looking for me.

Did you quarrel last night?
Last night he scolded me. He went to cut the plants for green manure. He cut the plants that I wanted to keep. I asked him not to cut them, and he scolded me. I asked him to come back to feed the pigs and cook. He didn't cook. He ran away after he fed the pigs. I said, “You scold me, I'm going to your second sister's place.” So I went to his sister's place. His sister often blames him because he beat me. His second sister is in team 2.

How many brothers and sisters does he have?
Two elder sisters; three younger sisters.
Section 11
He beat you - did you ever come to the office?
No, I didn't come. He often comes to Zhang Xuexiang (head/manager of village office at the time). “I'll complain about violent people, but not someone who's stupid like you,” I told him. He was so mad. He said I dared not to complain about him because I did not have reason to.

He's not foolish, is he?
Is he foolish! You see, he doesn’t know how to plant tobacco. He is not able to help. He wanted to learn. I left nutrient bags with him. I said, “You try to plant seeds. Plant as many [seeds in] bags as you can fill [with soil and nutrients].” He did only half when we moved [somewhere else] to plant [something else]. When we went to the market, I asked him to do the calculations; he was not able to calculate. I said, “When you divorce, I can make a living. I'm afraid you cannot make [a living on] your own.” They said that in my family I was the one who managed it. I said yes. I admitted that I managed the family - because I managed all those chemical fertilisers; I worked out what kind of fertilisers should be put for which variety of corn. He only knows about smoking today and drinking tomorrow.

Do you assign him to work?
Of course I have to assign him work. If you didn't assign him, he wouldn’t know what he has to do. He doesn't know what work to do today, what to do tomorrow. You see, today I asked him to sieve the earth to fill the nutrient bags. He said he was going to harvest the wheat. The wheat is still green. We have to fill the nutrient bags [with soil, nutrients and seeds] first. We could go to harvest the wheat two days later. We can harvest the wheat together. We can wait till it rains and then harvest it together. The tobacco is good; it can be planted when it rains. He said, “It's still early.” How could it be early? Today is 18th March already; it’s not early.

Can he count money?
No. If I take out a 10 yuan note, and I say it's 100 yuan, he will say it's 100 yuan. He's illiterate.

How about you? Did you go to school?
I went to primary school until I was grade three. I cannot read and write. As I have been managing the money matters of the family all these years, I have to go to the market and I learned how to count and read [money].

Do you manage and control the money of your family?
En. As my dad said, if I didn't control the money, we wouldn’t be able to buy chemical fertilisers. I have to hide the money well. If I don’t hide it well, he would take it to buy cigarettes [laughs].

Did you know he was like this when you were young?
I didn't know. If I had known, I wouldn’t have married him. The one I liked, I did not dare to ask my parents about. If my parents pressed me to come and said, “He doesn’t know how to count, he doesn’t know how to count”, I would then respond to them saying, “Because I like him.” They said, “I’m afraid you both are too poor to find a place to live!” I said, “How come we couldn’t find one? If I'll go to search, I'll get it ...” I said to my husband, “You can take charge of the house. I could let you be the master. You said I have no right [to be] in your family. I can give you three years. If you can make a success of something, I would be very happy to see it.” Here, this place is far away from the market. Do you think I really want to go to the market? I have to carry all the heavy stuff, to buy rice. Isn’t it me who has to carry the bags of chemical fertilisers back home? These days there are tractors, it's less tiring. In the past, you had to carry all the heavy stuff on your back. Do you think it's funny?
Section 12
Does he go with you to the market?
He does. But just asks for money to buy one packet of cigarettes. I'm the person in charge of the family. He goes [to market]. He's a man so he has authority. If he wants to buy something that I disagree with, he'll insist. I can’t stop him.

What does he do at home, and what do you do?
I do the same as he does - such as collect firewood. Only if I go with him, then he can help with cutting.

Can’t he go by himself?
We two will take the horse-cart, but he doesn’t know how to tie things on to the cart. If he goes [alone?] he would just cut two to three bundles of firewood. It's not worth going.

How about the housework?
The housework? We Miao old women do more. Such as cooking, if I am not at home, he will cook. When I was sick, he would cook. When I trim the tobacco, because he don’t know how to do it, he will stay at home and do the cooking. You may not believe it, but when he cuts the tobacco, he doesn’t choose the ripe ones. He took those he cut to the flue-cure but they weren't any good. I cut piles and piles and asked him to carry them, [but] he would even leave behind some of the piles.

Do you believe in any religion?
Ei, I do or I don’t. Say I do not believe in any religion, but I did go to church. Say I believe? But I haven't been going to church in recent years. He scolded me. It's far to go. I belong to the family of Pan [Pan is a family name for some Miao peoples] and believe in family name An, started in Ganhaizi [An is another family name for some Miao]. It's too far to go to church there. I'm the only one here, so I couldn’t find a companion to go with me.

Oh, there are different kinds of religions? Your religion is different from the local one here?
The local one is the Neidihui (China Inland Mission) in Yuanwotang.

How about yours?
Anxihui (Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian movement).

What's the difference between these two [Christian] denominations?
Both are the same.

Why don't you believe the one here if they are same?
Anxihui won't eat pork, while Neidihui eat it but they don't eat blood. If a person is baptized in Anxihui, he can’t eat pork.
Section 13
Do they eat other meat?
People who are very religious don't eat any meat.

Did you start to have religion when you were little girl?
No. There were no religious people there when I was a little girl. All were Han nationality; only my village was Miao.

When did you start to believe then?
Ei, just for company.

When did you believe?
When I married him 10 (?) years ago.

Are there many people who practise religion?
There are many. Most of the people here believe in some kind of religion. Few people don't.

Are the whole of your team 3 believers?
Ei, it’s only me in our team (cluster or group, made up of several households) who believes.

Where were your companions?
I have my sister as my companion. Those girls from team 2. When they went [to church], I had the companions. Now they are all married. I have no companion to go with.

Was there a Neidihui church when you came here?

Why don't you believe here, instead of going to Gahaizi?
My dad (father-in-law) said they believed in Anxihui. He didn't allow us to go to Neidihui (China Inland Mission). They believed in the Anxihui long time ago.

Does that mean when you were married here, because all his daughters believed in this religion, you followed them?

There is no other person who believes in Anxihui now? No one in team 2?
Two old men in team 2 do. I don't want to go with those two old men.

What's the difference between people who have a religion and those who have not?
People who have religion are kinder. People who do not have religion are not so kind. I have such feeling. Anyway, if you quarrel with people who are religious, they'll tolerate you. If you ask me which group of people are more fun, I said both religious and non-religious are fun.
Section 14
Do you eat pork?
Ei, I wasn't baptised so I do eat it.

Did you eat it when you believed in the religion?
I ate it in the past as well. Anxihui don't eat pork after you have been baptised. I wasn't baptised because I couldn't follow the rule [not to eat pork]. I didn't go because I couldn't follow it.

Many people in the upper team believe in Neidihui (China Inland Mission). Can you shift to believing in that?
I can. But my man doesn't allow me to go.

What did you learn after you began to believe in the religion?
Ei, my memory is very bad, I cannot remember. They said I was always... I didn't learn anything from the school either. I went to church for fun.

What did you do in the church?
Just like we studied at school, those old people taught us to listen and to sing.

Did they teach Miao language?
They taught. We studied Miao language there. I don't study Miao language these days, but only study Han. Anxihui (Seventh Day Adventists) don't teach the Miao language now. There are only half of the people left in Neidihui.

Can you write Miao characters?
Ei, I cannot write. I can speak but I cannot write. The Miao characters, there was a songbook when we went to sing. By following others in singing, I knew some characters. I didn't go to school so I cannot read and write.

Who came to your place to spread the religion?
There was… I didn't know what the old man's name was.

When did he come?
A long time ago. He came before.

Does he come these years?
It's said that the old man had died.

No one comes after that?
Mu, no one.

Are there many people in Anxihui?

Are there many Miao, Han or other nationalities ?
There are Miao, Han and Yi.

Are there more men or women?
The same.
Section 15
Other than what I had asked you, do you have anything you want to tell us?
I want to tell you, but my Han language is poor.

You speak well!
Whenever I talk, I want to complain about my man. When he is drunk, he smashes the stuff I bought.

What’s the stuff? A cabinet?
I have no cabinet. Two years ago we bought one tape-recorder. It was smashed by him when he was drunk. That same year he had taken three bags of corn to sell. I asked him to buy rice after selling it. Do you know what rice he bought? He sold the corn in the town and he wanted to buy a tape-recorder. Later, this tape-recorder was smashed by him. He said he wanted to buy a TV set, and whatever. I said both of us should not buy any more things, we buy and we smash. We didn’t have many livestock; we couldn’t buy any stuff. I said we had to build the house. He said we had no child so we didn't need to build the house. If we had no child, what do you build the house for? It was just wasting energy.
I thought that it was all right not to build the house. We even had no sheds for animals. The situation changed these last few years. There are more [word unclear]. But he didn't want to labour. Before last year, there were three years in a row that all the wheat was damaged by frost in Tanglangqing. Last year, he didn't want to plant wheat. I made my decision and bought wheat to plant. It didn't get the frost this year. We fight every day. I said to him that things won't work out by just depending on my hands. This year I had my fingers cut off, but he didn't carry even one basket of grass.

You cut your fingers?
En. [She stretches out her hand; we see that four fingers of her right hand have been severed from the middle joints. But Xiuqing smoothly uses the rest of it to weave the hemp sack, so that the interviewer doesn't notice the disability.]

Ah, I didn't see that [with shock].
They were cut three months ago.

How did it happen?
They were cut by a machine that was used for cutting fodder. It belonged to my family. I picked a big pile of pine leaves from the mountain. I carried 20 baskets, such big baskets. I piled them onto our land. I wanted to put them on the land. I had my fingers cut but he didn't go to carry them. He took what I carried back, to put into the machine. I said, “You don't scold me, and don't beat me. You always say I depend on you for eating. Now you know who depends on whom for eating!”

You are really capable. You can still weave.
[Colleagues: She also plants tobacco and fills nutrient bags!]
Section 16
Sometimes you need to teach him how to do something. Such as last night, when you planted the tobacco there, all you have to do is to poke a hole in the ground and put the seedlings inside. He sat aside and watched but didn't lift a finger. How can one work alone so hard!
When I was well before, I got up early to carry pine leaves, then came back to cook. In this year, my hand is so painful when I get up, I dare not to go.

Did you go to bind your hand after your fingers were cut?
I had my hand bound in Tang Zailan's place (midwife and health worker at the village office). She bound it for me. My dad and mum [in-law] asked me to go to the town hospital for treatment. I said it was unnecessary to go, as I had no money. This hand - if I went to the town hospital in Xuihua for treatment, it would cost at least 500 to 600 yuan. They charge 500 to 600 yuan for only two cut fingers. My mum sold one buffalo, got 2600 yuan. My dad said it was better to have treatment. They could get the money back in the future. I said it was hard to say, but my hand would not cause me to die. Anyway, even if I couldn't do anything at home, at least I would cook the meals for you. I got up three days after my hand was cut. So painful. It was not only the wound that was painful, my whole body shivered. I shivered so seriously that I could not get up. There was much bleeding. He (her husband) went to ask Tang Zailan to come to give me four bottles of intravenous glucose. She gave me some medicines to take. I got well in seven days.

Did you come to ask Tang Zailan at that time?
She wasn't home then. Li Wenhua (another doctor at the village office) couldn't give glucose IV, so he gave me an injection instead. My dad and mum asked me to go to Cuihua for treatment. I said the hospital (meaning medical treatment) was in the village office, why did I need to go to places farther away? If I went to the hospital, I would need to pay for food and accommodation. I wouldn't go. I wouldn't die because of this. I was treated at home. If the western medicines didn't work, I would have tried herbal medicine. Tang Zailan bound my hand with a bottle of baiyao (very popular local medicine); I got well in seven days.

Didn't you put some herbal medicine in the binding?
Yes, it bled every day. It bled for five days and I didn't get well so I came to Tang Zailan. Those Han families in our team said, “Yi, you are really capable. If we were cut like that, we would not be able to come out.” I said, “If you were me in this situation, you would go.” My husband couldn't do anything. He was lazy and didn't feed those chickens and pigs. Just two days after my fingers were cut, my mum came to visit. We two stayed at home to take care of the pigs and chickens. Thanks to my second sister who lived near us. She helped us to pasture the livestock every day.

Interviewer’s colleagues: When you first married him, did he labour on the land?
Yes, only the first few years. He hasn't done any work since seven years ago.

Why doesn't he do it?
I don't know. You see, he drinks today and he'll be drunk for seven to eight days. Our village is big. They come to look for people to do farm work. After the farm work he'll get drunk. He will come back and sleep for several days. He runs to the mountain every day, comes back to have dinner in the evening. You ask him where did he go today; he’ll say not to bother him. Then he'll beat you and scold you. Scold you till daybreak and he'll run and sleep in the mountain. I don't let him sleep at home. I said if you wanted to eat, you had to work.
Section 17
Colleagues: Before you married him, was he smart and able to do farm work?
He was able to do field work! The first 11 to 12 years after I married him, he was able to do farm work. He didn't know about money stuff. He did much farm work. He didn't need me to go with him to carry the muck. We didn't have to find people to do it; we carried it all by ourselves. He said, “You pick fodder and feed the pigs; I'll cut firewood and carry it back. I'll carry the pine leaves.” In these [last] few years, he didn't carry the pine leaves, didn't do the farm work. He didn't drink alcohol before; he would scold people who drink. My dad drank and he scolded my dad. Now when I know he drinks, he would already have got drunk. The village cooperative is near, and I know people there.

What's the thing you regret most (the saddest) in your life?
What I regret most is that he doesn't help me do the farm work. It’s the saddest. They said, “Your man doesn't know money matters. The skirts you wear are made by yourself. For how much longer do you think you can weave?” I said, “I only buy clothes for him. I don't buy them for myself. I made them by myself.” You see, these days, I'm really sad. When he was drunk, he cut up the yarn I use for spinning the sack. He used scissors to cut it.

The sack you spun?
Mu, he cut all the threads. Why is he so hateful? It took me 2 to 3 years to make one [sack]. So hateful. He searched for all my yarn.

Was he like that in the past?
No. I wouldn’t have married him if he was like that. In the past, when my mum scolded me, he would scold my mum. Now when his mum scolded me, he would join together to scold me. My mum doesn't scold me anymore, but he scolds me everyday. My mum said he was probably mad. I don't know if he's mad or not. I’ve asked him to stop drinking. Surely stopping drinking is good for him. But he doesn't want to stop. I asked them for tablets for him to take, to stop him drinking.

Is he kind to you when he doesn’t drink?
Very kind. He won't scold me. When he doesn't drink, he won't oppose me even when I scold him. After he drinks, he'll come back tottering. If I laugh at him, he'll scold me. My mum[-in-law] has such problem. Whenever she sees he is drinking, she feels such a weight on her heart. I asked then if I could hide in my sister's place. They said, “If you go, we three go together.” How can we do that? If he sees no one at home when he comes back, he would burn down the house. Where could you live if that happened, when you come back?

Since he often beats you like this, do his other brothers come to persuade him not to?
Yes. My eldest brother persuaded him not to drink, not to beat and scold me. He, in turn, would beat them and scold them. Who can come to help me! This is my man. Really annoyed. Not one day is easy.
Section 18
Are there people in the team who drink as much as he does?
There are, but few.

Do they beat people after they get drunk?
I don't know what's wrong these days. We old women chatted and found that everyone has been beaten. Everyone beats when they are drunk. It is not only my man who beats. I said, “Yi, the alcohol, I'm afraid that we shouldn't blame the person but the alcohol. If it's because of bad temper, [then] it would only be individual cases.” When we talked, I found I was not the only one. There are many men - Miao, Han, Yi - all beat [their wives] when they get drunk. There are Miao, Han, Yi - three kinds of nationality in our village.

Are the grains sufficient for your family to eat?
Grain?…we’ve got no wheat. I often say that the wheat in our team is not as good as those of team 1. But our corn is better than team 1’s.

You have more than enough to consume for the year round?
More than enough. We two have much land. The wheat doesn't grow. For the corn, we put some manure, some chemical fertiliser and it grows well. In recent years, we have bought new varieties to plant, they have a higher yield so we have more than enough to eat. Last year, we two sold 3000 jin (2 jin equals 1 kg) of corn.

How many mu (1 mu equals 0.067 hectares) of land do you four people have (ie including parents-in-law)?
Probably the two families have 6 mu. All were allocated by the team. We also developed more by ourselves.

Do you like to plant the new type of corn or the old one?
These years the old variety is not as good as the new one.

What's the benefit of the new one?
The new one won't fall down (collapse). The yield is higher. If we use the old one, it grows too tall and then it breaks when the wind blows. You cannot increase the yield. With the new variety, we can plant it in a higher density. No matter how dense you plant it, it'll bear corn. With the old one, if you plant it too densely, it won't bear corn.

So you like to plant the new variety now?
En, I plant the new one only for feeding pigs.

Why don't people eat the new one?
When it just starts to ripen, it's nice to eat. But a few days later it would be too hard to eat. We take them to exchange for rice.

Don't you plant the old variety?
Half and half. In this season, we plant the old variety. The new one is planted after harvesting the wheat. The old variety ripens late, and the new one ripens early. The seeds of the new variety are smaller and they ripen early. The big corn seeds ripen late.
Section 19
Do you like to eat the old variety or the new one?
In recent years, the life is easier. The old variety is not nice to eat; the new one is not nice either.

So you eat rice?
Half and half.

Where could you get the seeds of the new variety?
Cuihua. The village office delivers them here.

If people don't want to plant the new variety, could they refuse to buy it?
Yes. My dad and mum never buy it. He said they have no money to buy the chemical fertilisers. The corn seeds are expensive too. He didn't buy any.

Is it okay if you don’t use chemical fertilisers?
No. Both the old and new varieties won't grow well. We have to use chemical fertiliser. It won't bear corn if you don't put chemical fertilisers.

What about if you put chemical fertilisers but not any organic manure?
It won't work either. There are two or three families in our team who don't raise livestock, so they don't have organic manure. The corn can grow well, but the wheat is not as good as other families who use organic manure.

The things you have said, if we take it to edit as a book and let other people read it, would you agree?
I agree, but I don’t think I have spoken well.