Exploring the Ancient Terraced Rice Paddies of Asia

Exploring the Ancient
Terraced Rice Paddies of Asia

When you think of Asia, chances are the first image that comes to mind is a stunning landscape featuring awe-inspiring terraced rice paddies. These beautiful fields have been around for centuries and continue to provide sustenance for millions of people throughout the continent. 

Where Are They Found?

Rice paddy terraces can be found in many countries across Asia, including the Tengallalang Rice Terrace in Bali. History says that they were passed down by a respected holy man by the name of Rsi Markandeya back in the eighth century. Tengallalang forms the three most splendid terraced landscapes in the Ubud shared region, with the others being in the villages of Pejeng and Campuhan. The terraced rice fields along with their irrigation system, known as The Subak, have made the Balinese some of the most prolific rice farmers in the world. The Subak is an irrigation or water management system made up of canals and weirs allowing the terraced rice fields to operate with such little space and on an inclined terrace. Water flows through the canals into the rice fields after passing through constructed water temples. The ingenuity and beauty of these rice fields is a sight you don’t want to miss. Read more about The Subak and its religious and cultural importance in the region.  

An hour’s drive from Ubud is the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, the largest terraces in Bali and protected by UNESCO. These stunning terraces span over 1,400 acres. The name is actually derived from two words; Jati meaning “real” and Luwih which means “beautiful.” You have to see the stunning and historical site for yourself. 

While Bali brings to mind stunning imagery of terraced rice fields, they are located all throughout Asia including China and its Red River Hani Rice Terraces. The Philippines are also brimming with beautiful rice terraces like those situated in the Cordillera Mountain range. 

The History Behind Terraced Rice Paddies

Rice cultivation has been part of Asian culture for thousands of years. It is believed that terraced rice paddies were first developed during the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) in China as a way to increase arable land without having to clear forests or expand into mountainous regions. These rice terraces were built using simple tools and techniques such as wooden boards and stone axes as well as human labor. These methods have become more sophisticated with the introduction of new tools such as metal plows and irrigation systems. 

Why Are They So Important? 

Terraced rice paddies are integral to sustaining life in Asia by providing food security for millions of people living there. Not only do they provide nutrition but also economic opportunities through trade and tourism. Additionally, they help preserve natural resources by reducing soil erosion and conserving water by controlling runoff from higher slopes into lower ones. Finally, their beauty adds an incredible aesthetic value to rural areas which helps attract tourists from all over the world who come to marvel at their stunning visual appeal. 

The terraced rice paddies of Asia are truly something special—a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance in the face of difficult environmental conditions. Their history is long and complex, but they remain important today because they provide sustenance for countless people while maintaining natural resources like soil erosion control and water conservation.

Traveling to see the terraced rice paddies in Asia is an amazing experience that everyone should have. The beauty of the landscape is breathtaking, and the culture is unmatched. 

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