photo of Chinese woman northeast and southwest China
China glossary

Qiaoyun; Youngchun; Junrong

(CHINA 39 - Northeast)


F; M; F


65; 74; 36




Huanglongsi, Hebei


August 1997



Qiaoyun and Yongchun are the mother and father respectively of Fengying (see interview 30). Junrong is their daughter-in-law.

Section 1
What is your name and how old are you?
Y: Iím Qiaoyun, I am 65.
C: My name is Yongchun. I am 74, nine years older than she is.

We would like to know something about womenís place in the family and in your village. Could you talk about it, such as who is the head of the house, taking your family as an example?
C: I am the one who has the say, I am the boss. However, we keep a harmonious relationship at home. [Jun]Rong is our daughter-in-law, and she and my wife get along quite well. There has never been a cross word between them.
Y: Thatís true.
C: As for money, my son gives me most of what he earns. And I never bother to ask him how much he gives his wife. I just take what he gives me. She also needs some pocket money.
Y: For clothes or things of that sort.
C: Yes, if she does not have enough money for what she needs, she can ask me for more. In short, at home one just takes what one needs. I never ask about it. So the whole family is in harmony.

Do you talk with your wife before you make a decision?
C: Yes, I do.

[To Y] What kind of decisions are made by you, and what kind by your husband?
Y: Whatever we need and we can afford, we just buy it. We always talk things over together. [Laughing]

What about in the past, before your daughter-in-law came?
Y: Yes. Since we got married.

[To C] Do you keep all the money?
C: Yes.
Y: Not exactly. He locks the money in a case, but just leaves the key there. So we can take money whenever we need it whether he is at home or not, and then lock it up again.
C: Thatís true. The daughter-in-law asks her mother for money if she is at home, or just takes it herself.
Y: The key is right there.
Section 2
What a nice family. Are there many families like yours?
C: Many. Of course there are a few who have problems.
Y: Yes.

[To Y] When did you marry your husband?
C: That was after I retired from the army in 1949, in 1950 or 51. I was 28 then.
Y: And I was 19 or 20 at that time.

Did you live in the same village?
C: She did

Were you introduced by a matchmaker?
Y: At that time people were still feudal-minded (old-fashioned).

Did you know each other before you were introduced?
Y: Yes, for we lived in the same village.

[To C] Do you have any brothers?
C: I am the oldest and have two younger brothers. One died 30 years ago. When I was young my family was very poor. Life became even harder after my fatherís death. My mother remarried and brought my youngest brother with her. Later he was given to a family who needed a child.

Your youngest brother was given to another family?
C: Yes. He was still alive. Last Spring Festival (major national festival every January or February, depending on the lunar calendar) he came to visit us.

Does he know his story? How old was he when he left?
C: Yes, he does. He now lives in Wuanxian County. He was still a little boy of 6 or 7 at that time.

How did he come to know that?
C: Must have been told by other villagers.

After your mother and youngest brother left, there was only you and your other brother left, right?
C: Thatís right. The two of us lived in a shabby house. After my fatherís death it was pulled down and rebuilt.

When did your father die?
C: In 1940, during the anti-Japanese war (conflict with Japan continued from the late 1930s to 1945).

Were you already in the army then?
C: Yes. I went to join the army and before long my father died. After my mother left with the youngest brother, my second brother became a beggar.
Section 3
How was your life after you retired from the army?
C: I got a little allowance for setting up a home.
Y: He bought some necessities and built a fenced straw shed.

He married you in that straw shed?
Y: Yes [laughter]. It was not until our son got married that we built this house we now live in.
C: It is only four years since we rebuilt this house, with much larger windows and bigger rooms. The house is alright now.

How was life in your parentsí family? Was it hard?
Y: We were poor.

How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Y: Only my younger brother and I.
C: Fengying was adopted by her uncle and she is still supporting him and living with him.

Doesnít he have any children of his own?
Y: No, he never got married.

C: Because he was poor.
Y: My mother was in poor health and died early.

How old were you then?
Y: That was about 20 years ago.

How is your father?
Y: My father died when I was only three years old.

Did you feel very happy when you got married?
Y: [Laughing but no answer.]
C: We had nothing but a straw shed and a fence.

[To Y] Did you mind his being poor?
Y: No, my family was in the same condition.

Did you ride a donkey on the day of your marriage from your parentsí home to his?
C: Sort of. In fact her parentsí home was quite near. But we had to go to Lingxi for our marriage registration. My cousin was our matchmaker; he went with us. So the three of us went to the office together riding donkeys. After that we came straight back to my home. The ceremony was simple and we even didnít have sheets and quilts.
Y: The only quilt we had was borrowed from a relative.
C: My family didnít have enough quilts, not to say make a new one.
Section 4
How did you spend your allowance?
Y: He bought a few pieces of wood, a cupboard
C: It was only a small sum of money.

[To Y] Did you work in the field after your marriage?
Y: Yes, I had to.
C: At that time everyone had to work to make a living. In 1958, we had our meals in the public (communal) dining hall of the village. No work; no meal. We worked to get the work points (points gained for working hours under collectivisation; these entitled people to a share of the produce farmed collectively). Even children went to work.

That was the time of the Peopleís Commune (when people worked collectively/in communes). How about before that?
Y: Of course we worked.

How many work points could you earn each working day?
Y: Six points a day.
C: We men got eight points while women could get seven and a half at the most, some could earn only five, or even four.

Was it that the villagers decided how many work points one could earn?
C: Thatís true.

[To Y] Were you earning the full work points as a woman?
Y: Yes, I was capable and worked very hard at that time. When we were hoeing with the men I didnít fall behind them. I also did ploughing at that time, which was usually menís work.

Who did the cooking after you worked in the field?
C: Usually it was my wife and sometimes I also helped. If we came back at the same time we would cook together.
Y: We shared the housework. I cooked while he looked after the kids. He had to hurry back to work after dinner for he was the head of our production team. He could not be late.
C: I had been the team head for 18 years. But my successors could remain at the position for no longer than a few years. One was dismissed after only two months. Then after my son went to join the army I went to work as a cook for the troop at Lingxi. I worked there for five or six years. After my son was demobilised I came back home.

Since your husband was the team leader and was busy with his work all day long, I guess most of the housework was left to you.
Y: Certainly. I had to do the sewing while others could have a rest.

Did you support him working as a team leader?
Y: Yes. He had been the head for many years.

Did you ever squabble about his not being able to help with the housework?
Y: No.
Section 5
C: It is unavoidable for a couple to squabble a little in daily life. But we seldom do.

When it does happen, who will give ground first?
C: Things will be all right when we stop saying any more.
Y: When one stops the other will become silent too. The issue passes.

Who was the midwife when you gave birth to your children?
Y: [There was] no midwife. I just handled it myself.

Is that the case for other women of your age in your village?
Y: Yes, there was no midwife available then.
C: If their mothers-in-law were there, they would help, or the neighbours would.
Y: When I gave birth to my first son, he (her husband) helped to deliver him. And so it was when I gave birth to my daughter, Fengying and her younger brother.
C: When Fengying was born, I cut the umbilical cord with the scissors...

Just the scissors at home? Did you sterilise them before using them?
C: No. I just cut the cord, bound the wound to stop the bleeding and then wrapped the infant up in a sheet. Then I cooked something for the lying-in woman (who has given birth), boiled a few eggs. She must eat something after the delivery.

In some places there is the custom that the husband and male relatives were not allowed to go into the room until the baby is born. Do people here have the same custom?
C: No. If there is no mother-in-law to help with the delivery, usually the husband will.

Is the woman lying on the kang (heatable sleeping platform) or on the ground when giving birth to a baby?
Y: On the ground. The mother and baby would be moved to the kang after being cleaned up.

Would you cover the ground with something, such as a sheet?
Y: No.

How did you give birth to the baby, standing there?
Y: No. She would sit on a block of wood against the kang. Now women bear children on the kang, but not then.
C: Thatís true.
Y: He is good at all kinds of housework. We used to make all the shoes and clothes by ourselves. He could stitch soles [of shoes]. He used to go to a meeting with a pair of soles and finish them when the meeting was over.

Are there many men who can stitch soles in your village?
C: Just a few.

Would people laugh at you that a man was stitching soles?
C: Never.

Did you do that before you joined the army?
C: No, I couldnít. I joined the army at the age of 16.
Section 6
When did you learn it?
C: I learnt it when I was in the army. At that time conditions were hard. We had to rely on ourselves for the supply [of shoes]. I also learnt spinning and knitting, to knit socks, gloves, etc.

Did you still stitch after you got married?
C: Yes. I stitched my own soles, for they were bigger and thicker than the kidsí were. My wife would do her own and the childrenís.

I guess you did so to share the burden with your wife.
Y: My mother was ill at that time and I had to take care of my brother as well while taking care of my own family.
C: She was too busy and tired then.

How long did you stay at home after you gave birth to the children?
C: [It is] at least a month before the woman can go to work in the field. It is bad for her health if she goes out too early. Also you should be careful with the food [she eats].

[To C] You looked after her when she was in bed after the birth?
C: Yes, I served her.
Y: Because I didnít have a mother-in-law.

You are lucky to have such a nice husband. Shuanhuís mother had to do the housework only two days after bearing the baby.
Y: Her husband is too lazy.

Do people here have the custom of celebrating the ninth day and the first full month of the new-born baby?
Y: No. Here relatives will present certain food to the family that has a new baby.

What kind of food and when?
Y: Dried noodles. Usually on the third or the fifth day after the birth.
C: Usually people would buy a few jin (1 jin equals 0.5 kg) of dried noodles or brown sugar, or a piece of cloth to the family to show their congratulations. Thatís the custom passed on from old times.

Who will give presents - only relatives or friends also?
C: Mostly relatives. Almost all people in the village are somehow having ties of kinship. Neighbours and other people are not obliged to do so.

Does the family having the newborn hold a dinner for the relatives?
C: Yes. Most guests will remain for the dinner. Some just leave after presenting the gifts.

You have three children. Did you celebrate for each child?
Y: Yes.
Section 7
Do you still celebrate for the first full month of the baby?
Y: No, you neednít.

Do the third or fifth days have a special meaning?
C: People do not give presents for the new baby on the fourth or sixth days, to avoid the disease taboo of umbilical tetanus, which usually happens on the fourth or sixth days. After the sixth day, any time will do.

Do many babies die of umbilical tetanus in the village?
Y: Yes, there used to be many.
C: Of course there is no connection between the visits of relatives and the disease. But we have this taboo.

Do people feel the same about having boys and girls?
Y: Yes. However, people will feel a bit disappointed if they have two daughters because no more kids are allowed.

You have only one daughter.
Y: Yes, and two sons. But our first son is disabled. Something is wrong with his brain because of convulsions in early childhood.

Is it epilepsy?
C: He often had convulsions when he was a baby and could not walk steadily even when he was seven or eight years old.

Was it because of his lack of calcium, or maybe his brain was damaged because of the malnutrition during your pregnancy?
Y: Who knows?

Did you ever take him to see a doctor?
C: We were too poor to afford it then.
Y: Besides we didnít have doctors here. We had to send for a doctor from Liu Jia Tai, which is [a distance of] 20 li (2 li equals 1 km) from here. That was not easy.

Do you have any doctors now?
Y: Now we have two doctors.
C: One is a vet; he also treats people.

Do you depend on them when you are ill?
Y: Yes. In the past we had to go far away for a doctor.

Since you have many kinds of Chinese medicinal herbs, do you have any one who learnt to use traditional medicinal herbs?
Y: We do not have such kind of doctors. We just gather the medicinal herbs and sell them.

Do the villagers go up to collect medicinal herbs on the mountains?
Y: Yes, for selling.
Section 8
When will the buyers come?
Y: [There is] no fixed time.

Did you go to dig medicine in the mountains when you were young?
Y: Yes, I did.

How did you learn to recognise them?
Y: I learnt from other people.

It is said there are many kinds of herbs in the mountains. How many kinds?
C: I am not sure. But there are a lot.
Y: Those Beijingese (referring to the students from Beijing Agricultural College) knew little about herbs. I dug out some to show them.

Do the villagers know the functions of the herbs?
C: We just know that they are medicine, but [we donít know] their functions.

Do people use some herbs when they suffer a mild illness, such as a headache or stomach ache?
C: No, folks will go to ask for some western medicine.

How about in the past?
C: They would send for a doctor for a prescription, then went to the herb store to fill it.

You mentioned that you had your only daughter adopted by your brother. Why did you do that?
Y: My daughter thought that her uncle was too lonely and had great pity on him.

How old was she when she was adopted?
Y: About 20, after she got married.
C: Let me tell you the story. That was the Eve of the Spring Festival (major national festival every January or February, depending on the lunar calendar), after my mother-in-law was dead; there was only my father-in-law and brother-in-law. So I asked my daughter Fengying to go to make dumplings with them, the traditional meal for celebrating the Festival. When she came back from their home she said ďMy grandpa and uncle were so sad that they even do not want to have a meal, let alone dumplings. I must go to live with them to take care of them.Ē I told her that to tell the truth we were reluctant to let her go. But since she had offered to go, which was really very good-hearted of her and we did appreciate that, we agreed.

Her grandpa was still alive then?
Y: Yes, he died several years after Fengying went to live with them. Now Fengyingís uncle is still living with her.

[To Y] Have you ever been outside the mountains, to the cities, such as Baoding?
Y: Yes. That was about 20 years ago, during the Cultural Revolution (period of widespread political purges from mid-1960s to mid-1970s). I went to visit my aunt there.
Section 9
Can the land you have provide you with enough food?
Y: No, we have too little land.

This year you have a poor harvest, is that right?
Y: We had only a very small amount of corn and wheat because of the severe drought.

Did you have rice in the past?
Y: No, [it is] only in recent years that we have rice.

When did you start to buy rice?
Y: About 10 years or so ago.
[Now Junrong, the daughter-in-law of Qiaoyun, came back. Yongchun left to go to another room. Junrong (R), 36 years old, a junior middle school graduate, used to be the head of the Womenís Federation of the village. She is a warm-hearted and straightforward woman. The following conversation is mostly between her and the interviewer.]

Did you only plant corn in the past?
Y: Yes.
R: I wish I could forget the hardship of those years.
Y: Those years were really terrible. We had nothing but a few corns (maize). Even Chinese yam was rare.

Isnít yam a high yield crop?
R: The soil here is too poor to grow yam.

How about red sorghum?
R: Just a little.

Do women in the village go to markets?
R: Yes, but not to buy much, just for some vegetables and cloth.

Where is the market?
Y: A place called Longtang.

Which days are the market days?
Y: Every Monday and Saturday.
R: Many peddlers gather there, some from outside the mountain, for they do not need to pay tax in this market.

When did this market come into being?
R: Only about three years ago.
Section 10
Are there any other markets nearby besides this one?
R: There is one down at Liu Jia Tai, and another one in Lingxi. But they are too far away.

[To Y] Do you often go to the market?
Y: I have back pain and pain in my legs. I canít walk far. Usually they go.

When did you start to have the pain?
R: There is something wrong with her spine. She once had an x-ray examination.

Is it with the lumbar?
R: Yes. She suffers from it for many years. Many people in our village have the same trouble (rheumatism?)

R: Nobody knows. The doctor in our village himself has it. And he has to be hospitalised.

What kind of diseases do women usually have? This kind of back pain?
R: No, mostly it is men who have this disease. Many women suffer from back pain and pain in their legs because they overwork themselves.
Y: We used to get up very early to start work in the fields. During the break for lunch we would collect grass to feed the pigs.

Who are more tired - women in the past, or today?
Y: Now the land is divided and contracted to every household. We have some free time. But in the past we had to work every day to earn work points (points gained for working hours under collectivisation; these entitled people to a share of the produce farmed collectively) - everyday, all year round. Junrong and her generation do not have the experience of making a living by earning work points.
R: But we experienced the 10-year chaos, the Cultural Revolution (period of widespread political purges from mid-1960s to mid-1970s), when people did not take schooling seriously.

Now so many men have left the village to make a fortune outside the mountain, do women feel they have to shoulder a heavier burden?
R: In the past we would feel quite satisfied if we could have enough food. But now things are different. To tell the truth, we feel the pressure greatly.

Now you have enough food, you have a higher ambition.
R: Thatís true. It is always in our minds. Suppose you have already had a black-and-white TV set, you are thinking of having a coloured one. Now, the fridge is still not popular in the village. But every family is trying to improve the living standard, right? So then you have to work very hard.
Y: In the past, to have enough food was okay and all the families were the same. But now there are big gaps between families. It will make a big difference if the family is good at finding ways to make money.
Section 11
This is also a kind of competition. Do you feel a great pressure?
R: Much greater than in the past. No one wants to be left behind. We all have a goal. If your home is decent and comfortable while mine is shabby and poor, how can I stay untouched? However if you want to change you have to put in a lot of hard work. Oh. I do feel very tired.

It seems that the older generation is quite content with todayís life, which is much improved though still not good enough. But people of your age feel the pressure of competition, right?
R: The competition we now have is different from that in the past. In the past if you had earned more work points (points gained for working hours under collectivisation; these entitled people to a share of the produce farmed collectively). I could catch up with you simply by working harder. But now hard work without using your brain will not bring you more money.
Y: It is difficult to earn money now.
R: Now even children are competing in the school. No family wants to be inferior to others. If a child is in school and wants to go to college, then you have to work hard all the rest of your life to support the child. [Laughs].

Most of the men are working outside, arenít they?
Y: Some can earn a lot; some only get a little.
R: The question is not how much you earn. Now most of their income is spent on food. If we can get enough crops from the field, that will save a lot of money.
Y: And money also goes to pay the childrenís education.

Also you need to save money for building houses or to rebuild the old ones.
R: Yes, we have to. Take my little house for example. There isnít enough room for a sofa. We have two children. The house is too small; we have to have it rebuilt. And this will force you to work hard; there is no other way out.

Apart from the building of the house, what else do you have to save money for? Y: The kids are growing up. It will be time for them to go to college.
R: There is no end.

Just live on. Maybe in five or 10 years you will be able to build a storied building? [Laughs]
R: I have things more important than building a storied building.

Then it will be the time when both your children are in colleges. The economy will be further developed.
R: That will depend on the next generation.

What is your biggest worry now?
R: My health. If my health allows, these problems are nothing. I like to joke that I would rather that it was something wrong with my foot; the doctor said I have tachycardia (abnormally rapid heartbeat). When my heart is beating too fast I feel sick, as if the heart wants to jump out of my chest.
Section 12
What medicine do you take?
R: No specific drug. The doctor suggested that I go to Beijing for an operation to really cure the disease. But I cannot afford it.

How often will you have an attack?
R: When I am too tired or angry. I am losing my memory. I often forget things.

[To Y] Do people of your age know who is the head of the county?
Y: No.

Then how about the head of the township?
Y: I donít know either.

Did you ever take part in the election in your village?
Y: Yes.

When you elect the head of the production team, does everybody go, or does each family send a representative?
Y: Everybody goes.

Will women vote or just men?
R: Here, the head of the county is elected by representatives of the villagers. It is the Party members who vote for the leaders of the Party branch of the village.

How about the head of the village?
R: The head of the village is decided by the Party branch.

The village head is the leader of the administration. It should be different from the secretary of the Party branch
R: Yes, it should be elected by the villagers. But we never do.

Then whom can the villagers vote for, only the head of the production team?
[To Y] Your husband used to be the head. Did you vote for him at the election?
Y: No. I voted for someone else.

Did you really want someone else to be the head or you were just embarrassed to vote for your own husband?
Y: I really wanted others to be the head.

Why not your husband?
Y: [just laughs]
R: I have always been thinking of doing something significant. However Fengying, my sister-in-law, is always busy with work in the village while I am not in good health.

Do you take medicine regularly? [All responses are now Junrongís]
R: No, for the doctor told me that the medicine would be no longer effective if I take them often.
Section 13
Are there many villagers leaving home to make money outside the mountains?
R: Not as many women as men. And most of them are young girls right after their graduation from middle school.

What do people think of these young girls going out to work?
R: We do not think there is anything improper. These mountains shut us off and there may not be much room for further development. It is good that the young people go out to see the world, finish their schooling and gain experience and knowledge. Also they can earn some money to help the families.

Are the young willing to go?
R: Look at the poor environment here, of course they are.

So it is the young among women who are going out. How about men?
R: Most men leave the village to earn some money in other places. Otherwise we cannot even afford to buy fertiliser. We can hardly make a living on the little land we have. It would be really hard without trying to earn some money outside.

Do people change a lot when they come back from [working] outside, such as their ideas and their attitude towards life?
R: They remain unchanged. They just want to have a look at the outside world and earn some money to improve their life.

Will those young women marry local villagers after they have worked outside?
R: Yes, some get married in the village, some to other villages.

Men and women must have different jobs.
R: Most men work on construction sites. They have no skills, just do manual labour. Girls usually work in restaurants and other public places. On the whole they are not able to find really good jobs.

What do villagers think of them?
R: There are so many people working outside. Besides there is nothing wrong with it.

Is there anyone who gets married and settles down in the cities?
R: No, they all come back home after some time.

Where do they usually go?
R: Cities not far away, such as Baoding, Mancheng.

Do they come back to help during the busy seasons?
R: Most men will come back to help with harvesting, then they go back after finishing the work in the fields.

Do men share with the housework at home?
R: It depends. Some are willing to help; some are lazy.

Men and women are doing different jobs in earning money.
R: Yes, women are somehow confined. They work at home, take care of the kids, while managing to raise some domestic animals to earn money. They are shouldering a heavy burden.
Section 14
Who is the head of the family?
R: There are no absolute rules.

Who makes the decision on big issues, such as the building of a house?
R: It depends on the economic condition.

Do young people have the freedom to choose their own partners?
R: Many of the young people choose their lovers by themselves. Some are introduced, but they wonít be together if they do not like each other.

Are there any marriages between close relatives?
R: No.

Are there any women in our village who remain single?
R: There is a woman who is no more than 30. She is an ambitious woman working in Beijing. She has a job there and is learning to drive. She wants to settle down there. She said she wonít get married until she buys a house of her own.

Do people talk about her behind her back?
R: No. We admire her for her ambition and ability.

Does the bridegroomís family still need to send betrothal gifts to the brideís family?
R: I donít know for sure. Families are different.

Is there any divorce in the village?
R: Almost none.

What is the cause of the divorce?
R: It may be troubles at home, or something outside the family ... People think it is not easy to form a family. On the whole women depend on men here.

But thatís not the impression I got.
R: Mostly women stay at home for housework.

While men are working outside, it is women who are working in the field, and raising domestic animals. Is it that men earn more than women?
R: Thatís true. I think women have to count on men because they cannot be economically independent, especially if a woman is not in good health. Thatís the case with me. [Laughs].

Is your first child a girl?
R: Yes.

Do people feel disappointed if they have two girls but no son?
R: No.
Section 15
Will a woman be treated in the same way whether she gives birth to a girl or a boy?
R: The same. Take myself as an example. I gave birth to my daughter when I was 24. If it had been a boy I would not have had any more. But it was a girl; the next child is a boy. It will be the same when the kids grow up [laughs]. A daughter will be closer to the mother.

Who will take care of the old when they are no longer in good health?
R: Of course their children.

I guess a daughter-in-law will do more than the son?
R: You are right, for he is not at home most of the time. I have been married into this family for about fifteen years. My parents-in-law have always been in very good health. They never bring me any trouble; instead they have helped me greatly.

Are you all on good terms?
R: We have never had a row during all these years. Fengying, my sister-in-law, and I have a lot in common. When she went to study sewing and dress cutting, she left her two children with me to take care of. I support her.

Did you bear both of your children in the village?
R: Yes. Now we have a doctor in the village. This is a remote place. No one will spend much money to go to the hospital if nothing serious happens. At that time our house was only half the size of this one we have now. It took us four years to rebuild it.

Does your husband give you the money he earns?
R: A little

Who is in charge of the money in the family?
R: My father-in-law. He is the head of the family. It is the way here to show our respect to the older generation. If the father of the family doesnít want to, it is another thing. But my father-in-law is willing to and he is in good health. So we must hand in the money. I used to keep what I earned. [Laughs] My husband hands in all his income to his father.

Did you ever think of leaving the parents to live on your own?
R: Never. It is good to have a big family. [Laughs]

Who served you during your month of confinement after you gave birth to the children?
R: My mother-in-law.

How long could you take a rest at home?
R: A month, all women do.

Did you have a check-up before the birth?
R: Not then. But now pregnant women have check-ups. [Some of the transcript is missing here.]Ö equipment. Take the village Zhuaji as an example. They built a deep-well pump station, which enables them to plant more wheat while other villages cannot.
Section 16
Then could people in those villages have some wheat flour?
R: They have to buy it. Most of the money people earn by working outside is spent on their food. How can you save money if you still cannot get enough food from the fields?

Whatís your main food for the whole year round?
R: Corn and wheat.

What if there is a shortage of food?
R: We will buy more beforehand if we realise the harvest is not going to be good.

Where do you buy the grain?
R: We do not need to go far. Some traders will come to sell door-to-door the flour they get wholesale from wheat mills.

Is there any one doing business in this village?
R: There are only a few in my village, while there are many in Longtang village. They make a lot of money on the business of huajiao (Chinese pepper, Prickly ash peel), a kind of food ingredient. They buy it from the villagers and then sell it to other places. You can tell if the village is poor or not by looking at the houses.

Do you have any meat usually?
R: We usually kill a pig at the Spring Festival (major national festival every January or February, depending on the lunar calendar) and then preserve the meat to make it last for the whole year.

You mean the meat from one pig for the whole year?
R: Yes.

Is the doctor in your village a man or a woman?
R: A man.

Will he go to help with the delivery?
R: Yes. Most women give birth to their children at home unless it is absolutely necessary to go to a hospital. People cannot afford it.

When was the road built?
R: Not long ago, in the 70s, to the village. It is much more convenient now. In the past if you had to go to the county for anything urgent, you had to walk a long way to the coach stop. Now we have a stop just outside the village. And it also....

Who gave the money for the construction of the road?
R: The Transportation Bureau. Our village provided the manpower. It was not easy to have this road built.
Section 17
Does the road bring any benefits? Does it make it easier to get water?
R: Yes.

Do you often go to the market?
R: There is a market in Longtang. Sometime we go there to have a look or buy some vegetables.

Do boys and girls in the village receive the same education?
R: Yes we have the same expectations of them.

Is there anyone who is doing painting, paper cutting, or embroidery?
R: No. We used to have an embroidery workshop. But we had no experience and could not find a market. We lost the chance.

What kind of entertainment do you have?
R: Yangee (popular rural folk dance). But that is only during the Spring Festival.

What other activities do you have?
R: Some like singing and dancing. But it is not well organised.

Do you have temple fairs?
R: No.

Are there any religious people?
R: No. This is an area with a long revolutionary history. No one believes in that (religion).

What do you think of the future, is there any hope of great development?
R: Maybe I am shortsighted. The natural conditions here are so poor that I do not think there is much we can do. We do not have any factories. It is a rocky mountain with a thin layer of soil and thereís often a drought. It is very difficult to plant fruit trees. We have to depend on the weather.

Since the place is so poor, do the young women want to leave through marriage?
R: There are some really good young men in the village. If the girls can find their lovers here, they will stay.

Do young people want to leave the place?
R: Many do. This is not a promising place. Now some people are raising sheep. That requires a large investment and hard work, but not much profit.

What other kinds of natural disasters do you have besides the drought?
R: Hail and storms are the usual troubles. The crops suffer a lot almost every year.

Is there anything you can do to prevent this?
R: These are natural disasters. There is little we can do about it.
Section 18
Have you noticed any changes on the mountains?
R: Generally speaking, the mountains are greener than before. People used to cut all the trees on the hill for fuel. Now there is better conservation of water and soil.

Why do you need so much firewood from the mountains?
R: Now we have some coal. And when there is a good harvest, we have more crop stalks as fuel.

Are there any animals on the mountains?
R: Only rabbits.

Where do you get the drinking water?
R: Spring water

How about the watering of the fields?
R: It will be a problem if there is a drought.

When did you have electricity?
R: In the 80ís. After the road was built.

How much is the electricity? Is it expensive?
R: About 5 jiao per kwh.

Do you use electricity in your production?
R: No