The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Height: 200.000 mm
Width: 295.000 mm
Purchased with the Brooke Sewell Permanent Fund
Nguyen De, a watercolour
Vietnam, around 1960
Irrigation of paddy fields
Rice is the main carbohydrate of the Vietnamese diet. Three main types are sown there - hard rice (Oryza sativa lin. var. dura), sticky rice (Oryza sativa Lin. var. glutinosa) and drift rice (Oryza sativa lin. var. fluitans). Cultivation is based on the southern Chinese model with the rice seed sown densely into moistened mud and the bright green grass-like seedlings thinned out and transplanted after a month. The crop can then be harvested twice a year.
Water reserves are maintained by small dikes. In North Vietnam, water is then lifted from one rice field to another by hand using bamboo baskets made watertight with lacquer and fixed with four long ropes. Four thousand litres (about 800 gallons) can be lifted in one working hour.
J. Harrison-Hall, Vietnam Behind the Lines: Imag (London, British Museum Press, 2002)