A paddy field
is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice-growing countries of east and southeast Asia including China
, Korea, Japan, Vietnam
, Taiwan, Indonesia
, and the Philippines
. They are also found in other rice-growing regions such as Piedmont and the Camargue. They can occur naturally along rivers or marshes, or can be constructed, even on hillsides, often with much labor
and materials. They require large quantities of water
, which can be quite complex for a highly developed system of paddy fields. Flooding provides water essential to the growth of the crop. It also gives an environment favorable to the strain of rice being grown, and is hostile to many species of weeds.
The word "paddy" is derived from the Malay word padi
soil common in Japan due to volcanic eruptions made the paddy field the most productive farming method. Until recently, this led to a conclusion that no farming existed in Japan before rice came from China. But this was overturned in the late 20th century by discoveries of farming from the late Jomon period. Paddy field is represented by the kanji, 田(commonly read as ta
) that has had a strong influence on Japanese culture. A testimonial fact is that 田 means a piece of farmland where crops are grown in China, but it is used to represent only the paddy field in Japan. Instead, Japanese made a new kanji 畑(hatake
) for those farmland not used to grow rice. Many consider paddy fields as a part of the natural landscape
and a classic scene of Japanese countryside is of paddy fields tended by hard-working grandparents. The oldest sample of writing recovered is widely credited to the letter 田, lit. rice paddy field found on a pottery in an archeaological site at the present day Matsusaka, Mie dating back to the late 2nd century.Ta
(田) is used as a part of a name in many places as well as in many family names. Most of these places are somehow related to the paddy field and in many cases, are based on the history of a particular location. For example, where a river runs through a village, the place east of river may be called Higashida
(東田), lit. east paddy field and the opposite side Nishida
(西田), lit. west paddy field. A place with a newly irrgated paddy field, especially those during or later than Edo period, may be called Nitta
(both 新田), lit. new paddy field. In some places, lakes and marshes were likened to a paddy field and were named with ta
, like Hakkōda
Many family names have ta
as a part. On early Meiji period, the government ordered that all Japanese to have a family name and many chose to have one based on or near the place they lived or the job they had. With nearly three fourth of population being farmers, many family names were made using ta
. Some of such family names are Tanaka
(田中) and Nakata
(中田), lit. middle of paddy field, Kawata
(川田), lit. paddy field by a river, and Furuta
(古田), lit. old paddy field.
A pit-house at the Daecheon-ni site yielded carbonized rice grains and radiocarbon dates indicating that rice cultivation may have begun as early as the Middle Jeulmun Pottery Period (c. 3500 B.C.) in the Korean Peninsula. The earliest rice cultivation in the Korean Peninsula may have used dry-fields instead of paddies. The excavation of prehistoric rice paddies is rare, but the most ancient paddies in the world have been unearthed in Korea. Kyungnam University Museum (KUM) of Masan has been at the forefront of paddy-field archaeology in Korea. For example, paddy features at the Geumcheon-ni Site near modern-day Miryang, Gyeongsang Nam-do Province, were excavated by KUM next to a pit-house
that is dated to the latter part of the Early Mumun Pottery Period (c. 1100-850 B.C.). KUM has conducted excavations that have revealed paddy features at Yaeum-dong and Okhyeon in modern-day Greater Ulsan. The earliest features were usually located in low-lying narrow gullys that were naturally swampy and fed by the local stream system.
Mumun Period paddy-farming used all of the elements that are present in today's paddies such terracing, bunds, canals, and small reservoirs. However, iron
tools for paddy-farming were not introduced until sometime after 200 B.C. The spatial scale of individual paddies, and thus entire paddy-fields, increased with the regular use of iron tools in the Korean Three Kingdoms Period (c. A.D. 300/400-668).
Today, the small alluvial flats of most rural river valleys in South Korea are occupied by rice paddies. A year in the life of a Korean rice farmer in Gyeongsang-do Province begins as early as mid-February, when s/he assesses the rice paddies for any necessary repairs. Old fields may be rebuilt, and bund breaches are repaired. This work is carried out until mid-March, when warmer weather allows the farmer to buy or grow rice seedlings. The seedlings are keep indoors at first, but are then transplanted (usually by hand) into freshly flooded paddies in the month of April. Farmers patiently tend their paddies until Chuseok, a holiday held in mid-August of the Lunar Calendar (mid-September by solar calendar). The harvest begins comparatively early in mild Gyeongsang Nam-do Province and can last until late October. Farmers usually dry the harvested grains in the sun before bringing them to market.
The Chinese (or Sino-Korean) character for 'field', jeon
(Hangeul: 전; Hanja: 田), is frequently included in place names, especially small farming townships and villages. However, the Korean term for 'paddy' is derived from Sino-Korean and is literally 'water-field' or sujeon
(Hangeul: 수전; Hanja: 水田).