So. These are salt fields in this tiny little village called Shangri-la of Yunnan Province amidst high mountains and gushing rivers. Thousands of years ago, the land used to be covered with seawater, and there are still parts that bubble up salty water, even though that brackish river is freshwater.
So what villagers do is bring up water from saltwater wells and lay it out on those red, flat “fields”. Then when the water evaporates, tadaa salt remains! Since the village is extremely isolated, and the land is not arable, the entire village depends on selling this pure salt to get grain and other necessities.
Only the women work the salt fields.
In this village, women do the back-breaking work, climbing up to the salt fields carrying buckets of saltwater over and over again, and then pouring them out on the fields. Then if the river overflows (which it does every spring), and the fields are destroyed, all the women fix it up as well.
But they have the power.
In Shangri-la, if there is a marriage occurring, it is the man who leaves the home, along with a portion of the family’s fortune (teehee) and heads over to the wife’s place.
And then the man’s family proudly displays the future husband’s “dowry” to the stoic women of the future wife’s family and then they get married!
But there is no happy ending.
Apparently, some want to build a power plant, which will result in a dam, which will cause the water level to rise, and the salt fields to be underwater.
Thousands of years of back-breaking work done by women, and they want to ruin it.
(sigh) You should watch the documentary! No lie, it was really interesting.
Asian Corridor in Heaven: Salt in Yanjing