A grain of truth?

By Cheng Yuezhu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-04-19 07:43
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[Sketch by Sun Yue and Wang Xiaoying] 

These images, however, are not random sightings collaged to depict the vibrant scenes of late spring, but closely related to the natural changes, and bear instructional value to China's thousands of years of agricultural and sericultural history.

Duckweed thrives in a warm temperature, meaning an end to cold spells; cuckoos' distinctive singing, mimicking the Chinese phrase "spread the grains", is often believed to be urging farmers to start sowing; and hoopoes often build their nests on mulberry trees during these periods, a prime time to raise silkworms.

For millennia, stemming from China's agrarian society to today, farmers view the solar term as an important guideline for their agricultural activities.

"Grain Rain is still relevant to modern agriculture. It links grain with rain, reflecting an increasing amount of precipitation, which is good for the growth of crops. For farmers, it is a good time to sow," says Yan Jianbin, a specialist in festival culture from Shaanxi's Northwest University.

It might not be so well-known that in Chinese mythology an actual "grain rain" was recorded in the story of Cang Jie, the legendary four-eyed imperial historiographer who invented the first Chinese characters.

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