I was supposed to write about bird nest farming long ago.
It has been awhile, since my discussion with my friend about the bird nest farming her father is doing. It has become very popular business here, in Malaysia. The business seems to be quite lucrative too.
The Chinese have been eating birds’ nest soup since the T’ang Dynasty. Nowadays, the birds nests can fetch up to RM5,000 or more per kg depending on the quality. The swifts build their nests from their saliva, which hardens into a bowl shape. The raw nests are a mixture of saliva, feathers and even droppings, and need to be cleaned. They are basically tasteless until it is boiled with soup. It is assumed that the saliva has a wide range of health-giving qualities i.e. clearing up skin problems, reinforcing the immune system, strengthening the lungs and improving the constitution. It is also believed to balance one’s Qi or life force.
The jungles in Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines are popular with these tiny, fast-flying birds called swifts with the size of a sparrow. They build their nests in the crevices and corners of caves in total darkness. In the good old days, orang asli had been employed to “mine” the nests in the cave, facing danger of falling from climbing the shaky bamboo ladder and snakes bite.
Now creative businessmen, capitalizing on soaring demand of birds’ nest products, have turned shop houses into caves. They have the windows sealed to create a dark, cave-like environment to lure swifts to build their home. Artificial chirping sound is installed to attract the birds. It’s definitely easier, and less hazardous to mine the nests now.
The question – out of the 60 Jia Zi, which Jia Zi can, represents the farming of bird nest business?
I think I had mentioned before that poultry farming is represented by Yi Chou 乙丑. Bird nest farming is also under poultry business but with a slight difference. For example, usually you rear chickens for their eggs and meats. In this swifts farming, the birds are free, you do not rear the birds nor do you want the eggs or the meat. The bird nest is the price here or to be more accurate, the saliva of the bird is the final product.
Thus, a little deeper analysis is called for. Under the study of five elements, each element is associated with its own primary nature:-
- Water– Mental [水-元精]
- Wood – Nature [木-元性]
- Fire – Spirit [火-元神]
- Earth – Vitality [土-元氣]
- Metal – Sentiments [金-元情]
Similarly to the Yin-Yang energy, each of these five elements can also be further subdivided into five parts which each can be associated with one of the five elemental values again.
Saliva has the watery substance, thus, can be categorized into water element. However, the essence of water element can be subdivided into five elements – Tears 淚 (representing an inner component of Wood), sweat 汗 (representing Fire), mucus 涕 (representing Metal), saliva 涎 (representing Earth) and fluid 唾 (representing Water).
Since the bird saliva which comes from the nest is the price product, therefore, I feel the Ji Earth 己 should appears on the Heavenly Stem while the original Earthly Branch for the poultry business still remain as Chou. Hence, Ji Chou 己丑 pillar represents the bird nest farming.