Essay on Rice and its Cultural Importance in China

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1821 Words
Date:  2022-09-19


There has been a new study of psychology which has stated that there is a psychological difference between individuals living in the northern and the southern regions of China. The actual difference is said to have been brought about by the fact that the south of region has been cultivating rice for almost a thousand years now whereas the northern part has been growing wheat. In general, one may think that China as a country has the same culture, but the truth is the state has various psychological cultures, in that, it is proven that people from the southern region are interdependent due to their perception of growing rice unlike those with the culture of cultivating wheat (Lin & Lin, 1997). According to researchers, the residents of the south China cooperative methods for rice farming which enables them to depend and benefit from each other. However, individuals from the northern part of, on the other hand, are said to be individualistic since they work on their own. In this paper, we are going to discuss how the theory of rice culture was displayed in the southern region of China. The article will further explore the benefits that came with the rice culture in China.

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Following the collected data, the farming methods practiced by both regions continue affecting the modern world individuals. The cultivating techniques have led to different distinct psychological cultures which bring out the difference between west Asia and the eastern areas of Asia (Lin & Lin, 1997). The gap has also been linked to the varied climatic conditions of the two regions whereby the southern region experiences warmer climatic condition whereas the northern region experiences cold conditions. The climates, therefore, defines what the people from the areas cultivate.

Even though some regions in China are said to be growing rice in large scales, it is important to note that rice farming requires extensive labor. Furthermore, rice growing to the time of its harvest involves a lot of time, and an estimation says that the rice crop takes twice the time wheat needs. Moreover, the rice crop also needs effective infrastructure such as irrigated land, dikes buildings and even canals for it to grow effectively, farmers are required to combine efforts to meet the necessary criteria. Working together as a team by the farmers has brought about an interdependent culture among them (Lin & Lin, 1997). On the other hand, since wheat does not require irrigation, the farmers from the northern regions mostly depend on rains for them to cultivate. Therefore each farmer usually depends on themselves which leads to their culture of being dependent.

When Talhelm visited Beijing, he realized that almost every individual there was outgoing and depended on themselves much unlike in the southern region of the country. The northern individuals according to the researcher did not consider other individuals as essential and were never concerned about others, unlike the south of individuals who valued and cared for each other (Talhelm et al., 2014). After enough investigation to understand why there was a difference in the two regions and the primary source of the dispute, Talhelm later discovered that the Yangtze was the vital divider in the culture of China. Apart from dividing the Chinese culture as a whole, Yangtze also had the upper hand in diving the wheat and rice cultivators.

The theory of rice and its culture was majorly based on the different issues that were required by the paddy rice crops, and therefore these requirements brought about the interdepend culture among the farmers. First and foremost, paddy rice in the south china required effective and adequate irrigation systems and facilities. Therefore to attain the irrigation requirements, cultivators came together to form cooperatives for labor exchanges. Furthermore, to maintain the unions, the farmers had to control their behaviors in every way; therefore, it became difficult for them to find themselves in arguments.

Nevertheless, the theory of rice growing states that over a long period, the rice farm cultures helped in building behaviors and values which were consistent with the habits that were needed to cultivate the crop (Talhelm et al., 2014). Moreover, after the establishment of the rice culture, its impacts continued even after the cultivators stopped farming and went into cities to find other jobs. Since rice crop is much different than other staple crops in China such as wheat, its uniqueness offers a hand in explaining why there exists consistency in the rice culture and to the farmers who cultivate it.

Another culture of rice is that it requires more extra labor compared to other crops. The most vital evidence that can be used to prove the above fact is the anthropologies who did visit the pre-modern rice farms. Different anthropologies did investigate to find out how many hours rice farmers took to complete their work in their schemes. Their outcomes were the same even though they used different methods of investigating. According to their research, the workers used to spend about fifty to sixty days working in their irrigation farms whereas the wheat farmers used about twenty-five days in their farms. The findings, therefore, proved that rice crops required more time as compared to other plants (Talhelm, 2015).

The main reason why rice crop requires a lot of labor is that rice can easily be transplanted, unlike the wheat crop (Peng, Tang & Zou, 2009). Transplanting occurs when a farmer plants seeds of rice especially near the house and then transfer the seedlings to the central farm. The process of transplanting comes with various benefits. For instance, when the planted seedlings are small in size, little space is required thereby providing space for other crops to be grown in the primary field. The exercise helps a farmer to cultivate various types of plants in one year hence increasing the number of crops and their quality in a year. Moreover, transplanting helps farmers to monitor the levels of water in the central farm which is vital for growing rice. Another benefit of starting seedlings in a farm enables the cultivator to precisely plant the seedlings in the farm making sure to maximize the spaces in the farm. Even though transplanting requires a lot of time and labor, the yields of rice are also increased (Peng, Tang & Zou, 2009).

Rice culture states that the irrigation machines and equipment need a lot of maintenance. Maintaining these machines requires a lot of labor, and therefore one farmer cannot carry out the maintenance by themselves. According to researches carried out, the irrigation machines need around ninety thousand men to rebuild the spoilt machines and other sixty thousand men to remove dirt in the system (Xie & Li et al., 2007). The labor required for maintenance also encouraged the farmers to work together as a team and therefore carrying on with the culture of being interdependent. When the rivers brought in the water in the irrigation schemes, a lot of dirt came along and therefore there was a need for the soil to be removed to prevent them from clogging the irrigating machine. The above process also required a lot of labor.

Moreover, the culture of being interdependent and of good character among the rice growers was facilitated by the extra field preparation requirement for the rice fields. There was the need to prepare the ground well and for the lands that had an even soil level was required to be plowed well to level the land. Leveling the land was tedious and therefore needed more people to carry out the task. Level fields made it easy for rice to grow and the farmers to determine the favorable water levels for the rice fields. Farmers therefore since they have the same objective of acquiring high yields, they usually work together while in the fields, and no one works against each other because they need to benefit each other therefore they need each other (Zhijun, 1998).

Rice farmers were also required to coordinate on the usage of water on their irrigation schemes. The amount of water each plot required for use was to be organized to make sure that each irrigation scheme receives water since their primary source of water was the rainwater. In the same way water in cities and companies is rationed to enable that everyone accepts, the farmers were to agree on how the available water was to be rationed and equally distributed to all the farmers (Zhijun, 1998). The decision was made by the cooperation which was formed by the same cultivators. For every farmer to receive water without discrimination, the rice growers were required to have morals that guided them to having agreement plus they were required to work as a team for the benefit of each other.

In cases when water was limited, Subak who was the assembly general for the farmers had to divide the available water. Subak not only shared the water but also decided when to grow crops and the type of plan that was to be used in maintaining irrigating systems. The general board discusses the issue raised by Subak, voting is done and then the farmers who are to plant in that season are elected relatively (Zhijun, 1998). The voting only took place where the southern people experienced a shortage of water.


In conclusion, the cultural rice theory states that the rice crop requires a lot of labor forces and effective irrigation unlike other crops such as wheat. Increased labor increases profits acquired by cooperative and the farmers thereby burying any room for conflicts. Therefore, following the above understanding and teamwork, the rice cultivators are said to be interdependent and did have strong ties together. According to the above paper, farmers were required to irrigate and maintain the sufficient level of water in their field which could not be carried out by an individual, but a team of farmers and them working together increased their bond. Therefore we discussed that rice as a staple food of the southern region of China did bring its individuals together and taught them to be interdependent.


Lin, G. C., & Lin, G. C. (1997). Red capitalism in South China: growth and development of the Pearl River Delta. UBC press.

Peng, S., Tang, Q., & Zou, Y. (2009). Current status and challenges of rice production in China. Plant Production Science, 12(1), 3-8.

Talhelm, T. (2015). The rice theory of culture (Doctoral dissertation, University of Virginia).

Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., Oishi, S., Shimin, C., Duan, D., Lan, X., & Kitayama, S. (2014). Large-scale psychological differences within China explained by rice versus wheat agriculture. Science, 344(6184), 603-608.

Xie, G. F., Li, W. J., Lu, J., Cao, Y., Fang, H., Zou, H. J., & Hu, Z. M. (2007). Isolation and identification of representative fungi from Shaoxing rice wine wheat Qu using a polyphasic approach of culturebased and molecularbased methods. Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 113(3), 272-279.

Zhijun, Z. (1998). The Middle Yangtze region in China is one place where rice was domesticated: phytolith evidence from the Diaotonghuan Cave, Northern Jiangxi. Antiquity, 72(278), 885-897.

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Essay on Rice and its Cultural Importance in China. (2022, Sep 19). Retrieved from

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