The Human History of Pu’er Tea Certain ethnic minorities live in the border areas of Yunnan, China; in the past, the Han ethnicity called them all by one name “Pu,” but actually, they were members of the Dai, Blang, Wa, Jino, Aini, and Lahu ethnicities. Here, people rely on their hard work and the unique natural conditions of their environment to grow the outstanding tea leaves that go into the famous Yunnan Pu’er tea. For thousands of years, these people lived poor, simple, and quiet lives. For generations, the villagers lived utopian existences in small, remote mountain villages. They sang as they worked, creating a beautiful future through their hard work. Many of the elders never left these mountain villages, did not know what the outside world was like, and had never had their pictures taken. The people in these mountains villages are good-hearted and hospitable; they are very satisfied and happy with their current lives. They were a creative inspiration for me, so I made documentary photographs of them, in an attempt to better express my understanding of their lives. In later processing, I printed the photographs on the traditional handmade paper produced by the Dai people. Placing the photographs on this paper beautifully combines of life and image, creating a mood that the pictures alone could not express. The organic combination of the old cyanotype coloring and handmade paper represents how they live and strengthens the meaning of the images. The blue-tinted images highlight the happiness and lightness of their lives.
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