Máng Zhǒng: Grain in Ear

Mang Zhong - The Grain in Ear

芒种 Máng Zhǒng: Grain in Ear

June 6th through June 20th marks the time of 芒种 Máng Zhòng, translated as Grain in Ear, the 9th term in the Ancient Chinese Solar Calendar. It is also the third solar term of the summer season.

芒种 Máng Zhòng begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 75° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 90°.

Each of the 24 solar terms is further divided into 3 pentads. The 芒种 Máng Zhòng pentads are:

1st pentad – mantis start to emerge
2nd pentad – shrikes’ chirping can be heard
3rd pentad – mockingbirds stop tweeting

Let’s look at the meaning of芒种 Máng Zhòng, the Grain in Ear solar term:

芒 Máng: grain / busy
种Zhòng: cultivation

The Land During Máng Zhǒng: Grain in Ear

芒种 Máng Zhòng Land

芒种 Máng Zhòng is one of the busiest and most labor intensive solar terms for the farmers. It is a critical period for harvesting grains like wheat and barley, transplanting rice and planting corn in many parts of China.

Grain in Ear is a time for planting Xian rice. If you don’t plant rice in Grain in Ear, planting will be in vain.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Crops like wheat and barley must be harvested during a short window right before the rain starts. Every hour of labor in summer is precious. If a farmer misses a whole day in the season of spring, it will not affect his work. Missing an hour in the season of summer can ruin everything for a farmer.

In spring you can count in days but in summer you have to count in hours.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Meticulously following the science of the 24 solar terms and living in harmony with nature has allowed the Chinese farming community to excel in agriculture and feed its vast population for thousands of years.

An acre of land in the East can feed six times the population of an acre of land in the UK.

British agriculturist praising farmers of the East in the 19th century

Plum Rain & Máng Zhòng


芒种 Máng Zhòng has abundant rainfall and heavy humidity. During this time of year parts of China enter long periods of continuous rainy or cloudy weather. In Southern China this rainy season is 梅雨 Meiyu, or Plum Rain. Typically during this time there are many tornadoes, hail storms and typhoons.

Fresh Plums

Plum Rain season comes after Grain in Ear and ends after the Summer Solstice.

Chinese Proverb

Plums ripen during this season and it is customary to make and drink plum wine, a beverage popular among the Chinese for thousands of years.

Plop go the plums
Only seven out of every ten
Remain on the tree

All you men who want me
Seize this lucky time

Plop go the plums
Now only three out of every ten
Remain on the tree

All you men who want me
Seize the present moment

Plop go the plums
They have been gathered into baskets

All you men who want me
Speak right up!

Piǎo Yǒu Méi 摽有梅, A song from Southern Shào 召

Cicadas & Máng Zhòng

The 芒种 Máng Zhòng solar term brings cicadas out, an insect of high status. Cicadas are associated with rebirth and immortality in Chinese culture. They are believed to be pure because they exist on dew and settle on high treetops. Ancient Chinese wisdom suggests that a high-ranking official should be just like a cicada: reside high, consume pure foods, and observe with clear eye-sight.

The cicada’s nobility is hidden in the darkest shadows
under the dazzling sunlight of midsummer, it roams the fragrant forest
Not seeking prestige and having few desires, humming with contentment, alone
its calls ring out piercing, lingering, like the unwavering hearts of virtuous men
Benevolent and kind, it does not eat, asking nothing of other creatures
it perches high above all and looks down, only drinking the freshest dew
Hidden among dense mulberry leaves and sheltered from the heat, it sings with joy.

By poet 曹植 Cao Zhi (192 – 232)

The Energy of Summer & Máng Zhǒng: Grain in Ear

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Summer is the most Yang time of the year.  It corresponds with the Fire element which represents the heart, small intestine, and pericardium organs.  During this time you will find growth both in nature as well as in your own life.  The Fire element is associated with the tongue, the emotion joy, the color red, and the sound of laughter. Likewise, the climate is hot, and the taste is bitter.

Do not eat greasy or strongly flavored food during Grain in Ear.

The Great Physician 孙思邈 Sun Simiao of the Tang Dynasty (618-907)

The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout our entire bodies.  In TCM it also houses the 神Shen or spirit. When the element of fire is balanced and in harmony with your body, it is strong and healthy, the spirit is calm and you sleep well.  Disharmony within the Fire element may display itself as insomnia, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, mania, or depression.

Dao Yin exercises and specified breathing techniques such as laughing Qi Gong are great to help calm the spirit.  Drink enough water and most importantly, be joyful and laugh!!!

And that completes our insightful journey through the 9th solar term 芒种 Máng Zhòng, Grain in Ear.

May you continue to balance and harmonize yourself as we transition into芒种 Máng Zhòng, Grain in Ear. Stay active!

Additional Resources

Looking for more information on this time of the year? Try these resources below, and enjoy!

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