CULTURES IN CONTEXT
Bali: Ancient and Modern
12. Rice Growing : 132-146
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132. Farmers here typically start work around
4.00am, when it is cool; and they rest at home in the middle of the day
before returning to the fields in the afternoon.
133. Although the narrowest terraces will
be worked by hand, most ploughing will be done with the help of cows.
134. Cattle also pull the harrows used to
level the surface after ploughing -- turning each field into a sea of mud.
135. Seed has never been scattered in the
fields here as it is in “the Developed World”. Instead people plant out
seedlings raised in a nursery. Firstly, heads of grain selected from last
year's crop are laid out in rows.
136. These will sprout to produce rows of
seedlings ready for transplantation in four or five weeks.
137. The day on which they are planted is
determined by the village committee in consultation with the priest, and
offerings are made to the goddess of the rice fields.
138. Young plants are then transferred to
flat-bottomed baskets, which float. Taking a bunch of seedlings in his
left hand, the farmer will plant them out individually with his right hand
… at speed.
139. The first nine seedlings in every field
are planted at its centre in the form of a star pointing towards Mount
Agung. The others are arranged in rows, one hand-span apart. Thereafter
the rice will be watered and weeded, and offerings will be made to the
rice goddess to protect the crop from insects.
140. Forty-two days after the rice was planted
out the farmer will celebrate its feast day with additional offerings.
And when grain appears in the heads it is said to be pregnant.
141. More offerings are made then. The water
will be drained from the field, to speed up ripening, and people will be
employed to scare away birds.
142. The day on which the rice is cut will
again be determined by the committee, and everyone helps harvest it … friends
and neighbours, men, women and children. They will move in line as a team
from one field to the next. Belonging to his family, his banjar, his subak,
his temple and his village, every Balinese farmer lives a communal and
corporate life that has no counterpart in the West. Those who help with
the harvest receive a share of the crop as payment.
143. Instead of a machine they use a small
knife held between the fourth and fifth fingers of the right hand. The
left hand is used to force the rice stalks against the blade of the knife.
144. The severed heads of grain are grasped
between the thumb and the first two fingers of the right hand. When the
harvester's hand is full, these heads are passed to an assistant, who ties
the bundles together into sheaves, which are grouped together in piles.
145. These will be carried home later in the
day and stored in a granary. When the farmer’s wife needs some grain she
will dry a few bunches in the sun.
146. She will loosen the grain by flailing
the heads with a stick and use the wind to separate the grain from the
chaff by winnowing as here.
Text, photos and recordings
by John Tyman
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