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Water Pestles

( www.chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2011-06-23

Since the Song and Ming dynasties, in order to save their efforts, the ancestors generally used the water pestles to make paper. This is a creation that the ancestors used the water power to improve productivity so they made this creation.

Pingnan is located in the mountains, rich in water resources; stream water almost accessible to every village and was used by ancestors to build water pestles. The technique that stone pestles and stone hammers could be used for the water pestle facilities was simple, practical, and deeply welcomed by the local villagers.

According to rough statistics, there were 76 water pestles in Pingnan county in the late Qing dynasty. Zhangyuan, Shandun, Yijiashan, and other villages in the county ever used the water pestles to squeezed mustard oil and sweet potato for making wine, Zhengyang Village for grinding tea, so the water pestles enjoyed a wide range of applications in folk.

The location for construction of the water pestle was mostly chosen on the riverside. To prevent materials used for making the pestle from being sun-scorched and rain-drenched, a water pestle house was funded for construction by the villagers. To avoid congestion, villagers used the pestle rentals in a certain order, and sometimes the rent were received in some villages for maintenance. The water pestle was set up outside the village, so they would not affect the villagers’ rest. Ancient water pestles were divided into land pestles and ship pestles, and the latter came into being in the Ming dynasty.

In the early days of New China, Pingnan’s water pestles were still in use. It was not until the rice mill, oil mill, and paper-making machines were widely applied that the water pestle finished its historic mission, but there are still some sites where the water pestles are used in some mountain areas.