January 04, 2016

04/01/2016: Rice Milling around the World: early approaches

Milling journals of the past at The Mills Archive  

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK  

First published in MIlling and Grain, October 2015

A Chinese legend says that rice is the gift of animals rather than the gods. After a series of disastrous floods, all plants had been destroyed and no food was available. People survived through hunting, but it was very difficult, because animals were scarce. One day a dog ran through the fields with bunches of rice seeds hanging from its tail. The people planted the seeds, rice grew and hunger disappeared.

At the Mills Archive we have in our library numerous journals, books and catalogues, as well as many images, on rice production from all corners of the world. These range from hand winnowing to milling by modern day methods. This article concentrates on the early primitive methods, largely dependent on muscle-power, either from animals or humans. Subsequent articles will look at our coverage of the introduction of water power and the early stages of industrialisation.

One of our journals, The Miller (7 August 1882), has many articles on rice milling from different countries. A report from Burma indicates that the paddy was sown in June after the rains had fully set in, first in the higher lands where it was sown on the surface of the water, forming nurseries. After the plants had reached 18 inches they were pulled up by the roots and tied in bundles to be transplanted into fields lower down, which by this time had been ploughed ready to receive them. The transplanting took place in September and was performed by the women and children. It was hard work as it required stooping all day long in ankle deep water. One article suggests that there is no more beautiful sight in the world than the fresh emerald green of the tender young rice plants!  

Read the rest of the article in Milling and Grain HERE.          

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