The Tale of Salt – Lunar New Year in Yunnan

In a traditional technique of salt purification in the village of NuoDeng (诺邓), the bittern liquid from the salt mine would be boiled and crystallised. Then the salt would be dried under the sun till they form the shape as showed in the pic.

Hand made salt tarts in NuoDeng. With the Chinese charecter “诺邓” (NuoDeng) on it.

This kind of salt-making is rare in today’s life. However, the villigers there seemed to be born with the duty of keep doing this. Till their skill is passed to the next generation.
Hundreds and thousands years ago, the abundant salt mine has once made this Bai region (白族)village in the mountains a flourishing economic centre of Dali (大理国), which used to be a small country at South-East China, connecting with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. However, the raise and wide application of sea salt took its glory away. This change, nevertheless, helped the villige to preseve their customs. For centuries, people living in this secluded village remains their old fashion way of making salts.

Bittern liquid from the mine was boiled in a big iron pan in the air. And then removed into a  dustpan for dehydration.

Several years ago, the popular documentary, A Bite of China (舌尖上的中国), brought NuoDeng (诺邓) to the public again by presenting how ppl here make ham with the salt they produced themselves.

It was said by the guide that, initially, the program team of the documentary was aimed on the salt, but somehow they changed their mind, which as I’m concerned is an interesting decision but rather a smart one.

Today, NuoDeng (诺邓) managed to stay its own way of living, yet you can still catch the clues of urban impact on its increasing tourists, widespread wi-fi signals and well-designed youth hotels. Young people has chosed to move to bigger cities, their relatives also earn themselves a better living by promoting their home-made salt and hams.Some of them even open their houses as hotels to the tourists.

Hams were hung in one of the local family’s house.

There’s no doubt that this village, separated deeply from the modern world in the mountains, is dirty, inconvenient and poor, but in my eyes, it’s much better than Dali, Lijiang, and other places, which are no better than a superficial tourism skin selling cheap souvenirs.

Though may lack of entertainment, and there’s only one bus come and go from the nearby city per day, it is rather am unique pleasure to look down from the old temple, which is also the highest point of the villige, watch the sunlight gently climbs up the old eaves, listen to the bells of donkeys, and enjoy that moment’s warm peace.


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