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Condensing Life Substances within the House: The Rice-Boiling Shuhi of Southwest China


Hsu, Elisabeth; Huber, Franz K; Weckerle, Caroline S (2017). Condensing Life Substances within the House: The Rice-Boiling Shuhi of Southwest China. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 71(1):281-303.

Abstract

The Shuhi of Muli County, Sichuan Province, are one of multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the river gorges of the Qinghai-Gansu-Sichuan corridor between the Tibetan plateau and the Chinese lowlands. The Shuhi have grown paddy rice since times immemorial at an unusually high altitude (ca. 2,300 m above sea level). This article aims to explain this conundrum not merely through the ecology (as is common among Tibetan area specialists), but by researching the cultivation and consumption of rice as a historically-evolved cultural practice. According to a recently formulated agro-archaeological hypothesis regarding the macro-region of Eurasia, it is possible to identify two supra-regional culture complexes distinguished by their respective culinary technologies: rice-boiling versus wheat-grinding-and-baking. The hypothesis posits that the fault line between the two supra-regional cultural complexes is precisely along this river gorges corridor. In this article we provide support for this hypothesis arguing that Shuhi ritual and kinship practices have much affinity with those of other rice-boiling peoples in Southeast Asia, whereas certain of their current religious practices are shared with the wheat-grinding Tibetans.

Abstract

The Shuhi of Muli County, Sichuan Province, are one of multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the river gorges of the Qinghai-Gansu-Sichuan corridor between the Tibetan plateau and the Chinese lowlands. The Shuhi have grown paddy rice since times immemorial at an unusually high altitude (ca. 2,300 m above sea level). This article aims to explain this conundrum not merely through the ecology (as is common among Tibetan area specialists), but by researching the cultivation and consumption of rice as a historically-evolved cultural practice. According to a recently formulated agro-archaeological hypothesis regarding the macro-region of Eurasia, it is possible to identify two supra-regional culture complexes distinguished by their respective culinary technologies: rice-boiling versus wheat-grinding-and-baking. The hypothesis posits that the fault line between the two supra-regional cultural complexes is precisely along this river gorges corridor. In this article we provide support for this hypothesis arguing that Shuhi ritual and kinship practices have much affinity with those of other rice-boiling peoples in Southeast Asia, whereas certain of their current religious practices are shared with the wheat-grinding Tibetans.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 71 (2017) > 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Uncontrolled Keywords:house, hearth, rice, boiling, culinary technology, Southwest China
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:30 May 2018 14:50
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 19:21
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2016-0023

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