Nu - Economy



Agriculture is the main occupation and techniques include both slash-and-burn and plow agriculture with a team of draft oxen. Chief crops are buckwheat, barley, maize, oats, and rye, with some small amount of paddy rice where possible. Hemp is grown for clothing, and striped homespun is a distinctive feature of the women's skirts and tunics. Livestock include cattle, sheep, and horses, which are pastured in unused fields or in the mountains, and also pigs. Before 1949, pasture, forest, and uncultivated uplands were usually communal property of lineages or villages. Much of the economic work was done cooperatively by households of a localized patriline. Agricultural land was household property, and in some areas could be sold, rented, or worked with hired labor. Landlordism was a problem in the early twentieth century. Some Nu had become bondservants or household slaves to Lisu and Yi overlords in the area. Land was collectivized by the state in the mid-1950s. Both men and women farm. Gathering, cooking, spinning, and weaving are women's work. Manufacture of iron tools, care of livestock, and hunting are men's tasks. Other cottage industries include the brewing of liquor and the fashioning of bamboo and wooden articles. Hunting (with bow and arrow), fishing, and gathering were formerly important supplements to the household economy. Both barter and the marketing of surpluses were employed. Until the 1950s, cattle were a medium of exchange.


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