Qixing Village--- A Pearl Left in the Ocean
2014.05.15

There is a proverb in the Pearl River Delta:” If the mulberry is flourishing , the silkworm will be strong, the fish will be fat and big, the pond will be fertile, there will be a good pond bank , and more silkworm cocoons”, which shows us the experience and wisdom of the ancient ancestors for mulberry fish pond.

According to the existing literature, the mulberry fish pond is a unique production structure and soil and water utilization which can trace back to Ming dynasty. Because there were the rivers crisscross and the humidity limit, and there were a lot of low-lying areas in Pearl River Delta with severe flood, the ancestors dug deep ponds, made high bank and planted mulberry around the pond. In this small system, the ancestors planted mulberry on the pond bank , the leaves of mulberry bred silkworm, silkworm cocoon, silkworm excrement and silk reeling water can raise fish , and fish manure can fertilize the mulberry on the bank.

In the early 80”s twentieth century, fish ponds in the Pearl River Delta area was up to more than 650000 mu, among which there were more than 550000 mu in Nanhai and Shunde. Nanhai, Shunde and Sinhui of Jiangmen were famous for mulberry fish pond , now, the old mode of circular economy is almost gone.

But in the south of Xiqiao Mountain, Nanhai, Qixing village of Xiqiao Town still retains mulberry fish pond, known as a pearl left in the ocean for it in the Pearl River Delta. In 1972, the village was listed by UNESCO as an agricultural demonstration zone of mulberry fish pond", and was commented “the rare beauty in the world and a good virtuous circle model”

Thousands of mu fish ponds and ten thousands of mu cropland.

 The first time the reporter heard of Qixing village was when he was viewing on the Xiqiao Mountain. At that time, the friend said that was the largest and most complete mulberry fish pond in the Pearl River Delta area, pointing to the continuous square shaped fields in the distance. So the reporter made a decision to visit the village with full of yearing for the famous words ---“the agrarian age”

Qixing village, which is located in the south of Xiqiao mountain, belongs to Datongbao. Adjacent to Huang Daxian Holy Garden, Nanhai Museum, is also half surrounded by the high and beautiful Xiqiao mountain, just like a baby in its mother’s arm. Most of villagers are farmers, and more than half of them rely on fish for a living because of the excellent water quality. 

It is surprising to find such a piece of quiet land of idyllic beauty in Xiqiao, where there are a lot of merchants.

There are 7 natural villages in Qixing, such as Zhabian, Tianxin, Zhuyuan, Shilong, Gaoliang, Fengtai and Liaojiang. More than 90% are farmland and farmland protection. The most attractive thing is nearly a thousand of the box shaped “mini fish ponds” of 4 or 5 mu for each. Every afternoon, the sound that fishpond aerators turning water is like music, and the beat breaks the tranquility of small vilages .

In Qixing village, the farmers are always busy in caring water pails. Beside the small shack at fish pond, there are some tiny pools made by black plastic bags, spraying water at the top of them by automatic equipment. These are the places where villagers breed young fish.

Compared with the traditional ponds, the pond dykes of Qixing village are 2 meters wide or even wider. But a large area of mulberry has gone, only some vegetables and fruits can be seen occasionally."Silkworms are very precious! Now, air and soil pollution is serious, it is very difficult to rear silkworms even if the mulberry were planted,” said sister Tian, 52 year old villager who planted mulberry and reared silkworms with her parents in 70’s , last century. But her ancestors did that for many generations.

According to historical records, as early as the Han Dynasty, people began to plant mulberry, rear silkworms, and weave silk in the Pearl River Delta. In the early seventh century, merchants in Tang Dynasty and foreigners came to Guangzhou to traffic spun silk. At that time, the Pearl River Delta was the place where rice and silkworms could be riped several times per year. But people planted mulberry on the elevation near Guangzhou, which had nothing to do with the fish pond, it had not yet formed the mulberry fish pond at that time.

In 1522, the Quanzhou port in Fujian provence and Ningbo port in Zejaing province had been closed in Ming dynasty, Guangzhou became an important port for raw silk of foreign trade, so raw silk from different places had to be output from Guangzhou. 31 years later, the Portuguese invaded Macao, foreign merchant ships had entered and opened a new "Maritime Silk Road" to Lisbon and European countries, which made the Guangdong raw silk foreign trade more popular.

Because the raw silk was sold well, it promoted the rapid development of sericulture industry. During Qian Long period in Qing dynasty, sericulture industry was booming and Jiujiang was the centre in Nanhai. According to the experience of silkworm rearing, people found that a great deal of silkworm excrement was good feed for fish. So freshwater fishing was developed gradually.

As for when Qixing village began to form mulberry fish pond, It remains untraceable though the reporter visited many places  

But what is certain is that with the introduction of the silk reeling technology in Opium War, Chen Qiyuan, a national entrepreneur built the first modern silk reeling factory in the Pearl River Delta, which is located in Jian village, Xiqiao not far from Qixing village. So Xiqiao became an important sericulture and silk trading place and all of these influence Qixing village greatly.