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DiaoJiaoLou – Stilted Building in Southwestern China

Mar 14, 2009

Diaojiaolou (literally means hanging attic) is a residential house with a dense architectural flavor of the ethnic minority (Miao, Zhuang, Buyi, Dong, Shui, Tujia Ethnics) in the southwestern provinces (Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Hubei, Sichuan provinces). The wooden building is built close to the mountain or above the water (creek or river) with an extended floor space. These houses are usually built on slopes with only supporting wood pillars and no foundation and are 100% made of wood without iron.

Standing on a slope and supported by several wooden columns, these houses look precarious, but they are actually pretty stable and safe. They usually have two to three stories with a verandah. The ground floor is served as livestock sheds or storehouse for equipments and firewood; while the second floor and above is for family living.

The legend

When ancient Chinese pioneers moved from north to hilly southern China, they suffered a lot from the beasts, reptiles, and insects in the mountain forests. First they set fire to keep beasts away from colony, but people were still often bitten by snakes and scorpions. Then an old smart leader in the tribe invented what’s shown in the pictures above: Diaojiao Lou – Stiled Building.

High above the ground, Diaojiaolou has a few advantages:

Firstly, it can keep people away from deadly wild animals in the old days.

Second, people can stay away from the humidity close to the ground and prevent humidity related diseases such as Rheumatism.

Last but not least, there is better lighting upstairs, so people can work on delicate handcrafts or simply enjoy the brightness.

1000 family Miao village

In Xijiang, Kaili, Guizhou, there is a HUGE Miao village. It has about 1000 Miao ethnic families living there together and it is said to be biggest Miao village. There diaojiaolou houses was built one next to another from the foothill to the top of the mountain, which forms a magnificent view.

Don’t forget to make a visit

Southwestern minority ethnics people are not only great architectures but also creative artists. They like to carve, shape or decorate their house into beautiful living galleries. If you are planning to make a trip to southwestern China, don’t forget to visit these wonderful diaojiaolou villages.

[References]
1. Baidu Wiki (in Chinese)
2. Fortune cookie news

[Chinese Keywords]
民居 吊脚楼

[Image sources]
1. baidu 2. xinhuanet 3. youngxbmu 4. dong 5. 1000 family Miao village by 老然

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