The Production of Well Salt by Ethnic Minorities in Pre-modern Yunnan: The “Illustrations on the Salt Production Methods of Yunnan”

朱霞 (Zhu Xia)
East Asian Science, Medicine and Technology, 2011
Online version
Abstract: This paper makes use of regional historical sources to analyze and investigate the “Illustrations on the Salt Production Methods of Yunnan” (Diannan yanfa tu 滇 南 鹽 法 圖 ), a scroll held by the Chinese National Museum in Beijing. It postulates that pre-modern Yunnan salt works can be divided into three basic types: natural brine springs, brine wells on land, and brine wells in the middle of rivers. The last type, in particular, is characteristic of Yunnan well salt production. At the same time, this paper also discusses the arts of hoisting and transporting brine as well as the methods of boiling brine and forming salt, thus highlighting the diversity of Yunnan’s pre-modern well salt production methods. By reflecting the customs and practices of the Yunnan salt industry, the “Illustrations on the Salt Production Methods of Yunnan” is an important document for the history of science and technology of the ethnic minorities in the southwestern part of China.