Bamboo House: Tropical Loft in the Rainforests
A great poet in Song dynasty ever said: I’d rather to eat without meat, but not to live without bamboo. From this point of view, the Dai ethnic people living in Xishuang-Banna (China’s rainforest area in Yunnan Province) must be the happiest people in the world. They not only live in “bamboo” houses, but also eat bamboo rice, drink bamboo wine. Even the gods should be jealousy about their lives.
For tourists coming to Banna, the most touching view is the vast coverage of bamboo woods, as well as the pretty bamboo houses hidden in the shadow of the woods. Their shapes are like a displaying peacock or a dancing girl, leading you into the dream of tropical Dai life style.
A legend about the origin of bamboo house
Dai people have been living in bamboo houses for at least 1000+ years in recorded history. According to a Dai legend, long long time ago, there was a smart young man named Paya. He was eager to invent a type of house for the Dai tribes, so that they don’t need to live in the wild any more. He did a few experiments and failed.
One day, it was raining heavily. Paya saw a dog sitting in the rain. And the water was draining along the dog’s thick fur. He learned from the dog and built a simple slope shelter. But it’s still not sturdy enough.
Then, a phoenix came by, showing him with its wings how to improve the house. It showed him to erect some pillars first to raise up the house and to build an A shape roof. With the help of the phoenix, Paya finally built a beautiful and sturdy bamboo house for the Dai people.
Every part of bamboo house has its unique meaning
Stepping into a bamboo house, you are entering a museum of Dai history and culture. The whole house is all made by bamboo, including beam, pillar, wall and other accessories. Every piece of bamboo has its unique symbolized meaning. The house owner will tell you what they are.
For example, the central pillar of the house is called “the fallen pillar”. It’s the most sacred part of entire house. It’s forbidden to leaning or put stuff against this pillar, because it’s the very symbol that prevents the bamboo house from any disaster.
Apart from the central pillar, the other pillars also have their meanings. The stronger ones in the middle represent the males, and the shorter ones aside means the females. In addition, the roof means the tail of phoenix; the roof corner mimics the little egret’s wing …
Modern improvements of the bamboo houses
Along with the development of tourism in Xishuang-Banna, bamboo houses have become an important attraction of Yunnan tropical area. And it also becomes a important source of income for local Dai people.
In the recent decades, bamboo houses of Dai people has changed and improved a lot with better material and modern technology without changing the original Dai style design. Wood, steel, cement, glass and aluminum, as well as the indispensable bamboo make the new “bamboo” house sturdier, safer, cleaner, and more comfortable … in one word: better!