Wearing Green Bamboo Hats and Coir Raincoat, the Old Fisherman Fishes in the Windy Rain and Does Not Return
Writer: Yang Bo
The ancient town is such the city that people outside stream in for the purpose of finding the “spiritual homeland”, while after entering into it, they deem that all these ancient towns should be so similar to each other.
It is contradictory. On the one hand, the outsiders want to appreciate the peaceful minds and comforts of the residents in the ancient town, as well pay a visit to those people who are regarded by them as the idols retaining their nature and simplicity all the time, in such the place called “Peach-Blossom Spring”; while on the other hand, the ancient people’s professional identities evolve on the basis of the developmental conditions of the commercialization, and no matter what professions they have been occupied before such as the farmers, the blacksmiths, the barbers, the sellers of straw sandals, butchers and so on, it seems that all of them have quietly changed themselves as the bosses of the restaurants or innkeepers, which in their eyes, are the most respectable jobs. The ancient town is just like the grand stage setting, and the ancient people, having lost their original lives, are all actors to perform the modern ancient town’s drama for visitors.
Actually the previous professions of the ancient people are much more interesting.
At one night when the sky is deeply black with the very dim moonlight, the shadow of the flying swordsman with his flowing cloak is overlapped with shadows of the trees, while the shadow of the fisherman with his coir raincoat boating in the river is lone. If the clothing represents the individuality, the cloak is the young swordsman, the coir raincoat is the old man who at least is identified as composed. Due to the coir raincoat, the old fisherman can fish in the windy rain and not return. Though nowadays there are the convenient rain covers like the umbrellas and rain capes, it is still unimaginable for people to appreciate the old fisher’s composed conditions in the windy rain with one coir raincoat. Therefore, maybe the coir raincoat can again become the fad.
In Longhua ancient town, there is the profession producing the coir raincoats due to the geographical climate. Longhua, where is in the mountainous areas of the southern Sichuan province, is contiguous to Yunnan province, and the climate of it is that of the Dry-hot Valley in the upstream of Jinsha River whose features are humid and raw in winter and rainy and foggy in spring and summer. Villagers say that in the past they have to wade across the river for 24 times from Longhua to the town, which verifies such the saying that “the feet of one person are wet because he has waded across the river for 24 times”. The climate in the mountainous Ping Mountain is so humid and rainy that the palms are fittingly planted, as a result, the barks in these good ones are used to produce the superb coir raincoats.
The coir raincoat in Longhua ancient town is the clothing of the inland villages worn by the farmers in the spring for cultivating. In February and March, or in May and June when are the periods of plowing, farmers wear the coir raincoats as long as it rains. Sewing the neckline of the coir raincoat is the first step. At first about 15 or 16 arrayed barks should be folded, and the threads for sewing the coir raincoat are as well woven by the palms, which is named the coir rope whose making procedures are firstly collecting the barks of palms, then twisting balls of these barks as the threads, at last rubbing every two threads into the one coir rope. The more coir ropes are, the more thickly-knitted the coir raincoats are, and the non-local craftsmen generally sew the coir raincoats with the fifty or sixty arrayed coir ropes, while the craftsmen in Longhua sew the coir raincoats with usually eighty or ninety arrayed coir ropes and sometimes one hundred twenty arrayed ones at most.
The tool for shaping the neckline is the porcelain bowl. The coir raincoat has to be carried on the back, so if the neckline is made shoddily, it will make the wearer uncomfortable for the neck is held tightly. In the rainy days, the coir raincoats always provide the secure shelters for farmers with the bamboo hats who are hoeing or seeding.
Different from the clothing made of cloth, the coir raincoats are made by collaging, therefore it is the most essential step of fabricating them by setting the exact position. After completing it, the last but not the least procedure which is called by the craftsmen as “stitching”, is to incessantly sew the coir raincoats with the coir ropes. Tailoring is most time-consuming and exhausting for it usually takes two days to complete.
Only one bark grows in one palm every one month, and there are 12 barks of one palm in one year, only picked six in June and six in October. In the mountainous areas, the palms are the main commercial crops for the farmers of Longhua, and the 16 or 17 barks weigh one pound, whose price is six cents. In Longhua town all old men use the barks to weave the strips of the baskets.
As for the exquisite crafts, the local craftsmen slowly point out: “it is not so refined as many people have supposed, but the crafts should at least meet the buyers’ tastes and requirements. If you prefer muddling through your work, and succeed in cheating one person, the same trick is bound to fail when cheating another one. Buyers would say that your craft is too terrible, as a result, no one will invite you to do the work, and you are ruined”.
Though the development in the depths of the wild forest is not so swift as that of the modern civilization, the true and reliability immersed into the sweet vegetation is kept in the less civilized but more leisurely area. Maybe the means of living in the crowd and deceiving each other obscures the professional integrity of many jobs, while for one person, neighboring with nature clarifies his inner heart’s insistence towards guarding his moral integrity. Therefore, he will feel peaceful and contented if he knows the distinct definitions between what he should do and shouldn’t.
Nature bestows persons the sense of security to close to the earth, and the urban civilization over and over narrows the people’s horizons and eradicates the root of nature. It can be supposed that the reason for people to feel confused and worried lies in that of which the relations of nature and humans have been cut by the social rules.
Therefore seeking for Liu Yuxi in Nanyang and sneaking into the unworldly place like “the Peach Blossom Spring” where humans and nature want to perch on, is yearned by those secular ones.
Ancient town is remote, and villagers choose to live in the fine lands where the fruits and civilization gifted by nature for their survival, offer them such the double homelands, the former is substantial, for water and grass are abundant, while the latter is spiritual as in there people live and work contently and peacefully. The ancient town’s people used to immerse themselves within such the atmosphere where has been for hundreds of years to revitalize and better themselves. As well their professions for survival are full of rustic charm and reality.