18新利VE中华VNACULAHighlander DWELLINGS Wang Qijun 11

  13. Vernacular Dwellings in Southwest China

  1. Mongolian Yurt

Important changes also took place in the structure and modeling of furniture. The box-shaped structure prevailing in the Sui and Tang eras was replaced by post-and-beam framing, and decorative moldings were now extensively used, together laying the foundation for further changes in the Ming and Qing periods.

  Ganlan-type dwellings can be of the high-storied or the low-storied type depending on the height of the void space of columns and beams on the lower floors. The most common type is three-storied: the uppermost floor being a bedroom, the floor between a sitting room and ground floor serving as a pen for animals and storage space.

In Shanxi, vernacular dwellings of the cave-house type are often to be found, with brick arching under flat roofing (i.e. independent cave-house). In the case of well-to-do families, such dwellings were obviously not chosen for economic reasons but for the advantages they offered; warm in winter, cool in summer and the protection the thick walls gave when fire broke out or in the event of attacks by robbers. In the case of ordinary families with limited financial means, main houses were built as independent cave dwellings, while the wing houses are dwellings with a single-sided pitched roof. In spite of their age, the elegant style of such dwellings can still be perceived. Tasteful, too, are the latticework on the doors and windows and the color of the moire on the beam-ends.

Tang, Song and the Five Dynasties were a period when new and fascinating developments were made. The art of vernacular dwellings rose to a unprecedented height.

  The provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi are famous for the uniqueness and beauty of their scenery. The population includes minority ethnic groups such as the Dai, Jingpo, Dong, Wa, Aini and Shui, and the vernacular dwellings have a variety of forms, many tribes adopting ganlan-type buildings.

Cave-dwellings represented an ideal form of building for the sweeping loess highlands in which they are situated. Warm in winter, cool in summer, taking up very little land and easy to build, they are ideally insulated against fire, wind and noise, even offering protection in the event of an earthquake. A gully can be filled with layers of such dwellings, which almost dissolve into the natural environment.

The fang-li system was not abolished until the Northern Song in Bianjing when the night time bazaars characteristic of economically more prosperous times could not be forbidden. Each residence in the fang-li was in turn encircled with high walls. A residence at that time was therefore surrounded and protected by at least three types of wall, namely: the city wall, the fang wall and the courtyard wall. Within the courtyard, one could reach the bedroom only by going through a series of doors such as the entrance door an intermediate door and the hall door. The fang-li system not only provided security but also intimacy, and the use of walled courts with their natural-looking gardens lent a magnificent and solemn air to the city as a whole. Thus, the architecture of the Tang Dynasty was already highly developed. This period took the vernacular dwelling much further as far as art, technique and scale were concerned.

  The toilets of Uygur dwellings are generally to be found on the roof, the dry climate facilitating the removal of feces.

Ordinary families again around Shanxi often live in sanheyuan or siheyuan consisting of houses with a one-side pitched roofs. All the roofs are inclined toward the courtyard even the entrance gate and the daozuo (a room lying on the principal axis of a building and opposite the main room, i. e. usually facing north have a one-side pitched roof inclining inwardly).

III. Vernacular Dwellings of the Tang and Song Periods

  The entrance gate is generally opened on the left at the front with the zhaobi located immediately inside. The deep courtyard is quiet, and as it cannot be seen from outside, functions as an outdoor living room in summer. Potted plants transform it into a small and idyllic often brick-paved garden.


In the Northern Song, the fang-li system was abolished, but residences were still controlled by sumptuary law. Yufuzhi of Songshi (History of Song) stipulates that The residences of princes in office are called Fu, those of other officials Zhai and those of common people Jia. Ample evidence of Song residences has come down to us in illustrative form. Compared with the strength and grandeur of Tang vernacular dwellings, those of the Song Dynasty were less magnificent, but possessed a simple and natural beauty all of their own. The sentiments expressed in the sense of quietness and indifference towards fame and wealth and the mind of mildness and calmness are reflected in the architecture of the period.

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Mongolian yurts are the traditional dwellings of the Mongolians, and were called qionglu in the Han Dynasty. The exterior consists of wool felt stretched over a simple wooden frame, layout and profile both circular in shape, the yurt is an ideal form of dwelling for a nomadic people as the prefabricated parts are constructed in such a way that erecting and taking down the yurt is quick and easy. A stove is placed in the center of the yurt, its chimney protruding out of the top of the tent. Around the stove is an area kept free for sitting and lying. Walling consists of twigs woven into a kind of fencing. Yurts are sometimes even set on a circular fire- place for warmth. Similar felt yurts are also used by other nomadic peoples such as the Kazakh.

In Jiutangshu (the Old Book of the Tang), there are many detailed descriptions of the dwellings of aristocrats. Tang dynasty frescoes discovered in a cave in Mogao provide excellent illustration of such dwellings, with corridors zigzagging their way through the courtyard, and fine tiles covering the undulating roofs of the buildings surrounding it. The poem Shangzhai (Lament of a Building) by Bai Juyi reads, Who erected this building / With red door by the avenue / Grand houses arranged like teeth of a comb / High walls meandering/ There are altogether seven halls / Beams and eaves being adjacent to each other, giving the reader a wonderful insight into the elaborate of such dwellings.


The arrangement of vernacular dwellings in Shanxi and Shaanxi is comparatively compact narrow courtyards being chosen as protection against sand blown by the wind, and there are corridors in the main house and wing houses in courtyards. Large country residences are often equipped with small square brick lookout towers called kanjialou. Roofs are of the gable-roof type. There are often handsome colored paintings and engravings on the efang (architrave, tie-beam between two peripheral columns, supporting maybe one or more intermediate bracket sets in buildings with a dugong).

Nothing remains of the magnificence and prosperity of the old Tang cities, but a remarkable record of the planning of the city of Changan in the form of a stone map and accompanying text dating from 1081 has come down to us. The fang-li system was adopted for the city, and although planning followed the system used during the Han Dynasty, and that used in Luoyang of the Northern Wei dynasty, it was now on a much larger scale. Inside the high walls and gates of the fang residential areas, people were safe from attack and robbery. The main streets ran outside the fang. In the case of large fangs, doors were provided on all four sides, while in smaller ones, doors were set only in the eastern and western walls. In the Jiaohe City, Xinjiang, the approximate shape of the old city as it was during the Tang Dynasty can still be seen today due to the dry climate and its rare rainfall. Large, high walls of earth were erected on both sides of the street, and gates into the fang were only to be found in small alleys. Only going through the gate did one come to the door into the court. This fang-li system had the same configuration as that of Central China. Records tell us that the fangs were closed at night and patrolled by guards.


In such type of dwellings, walls are of rammed earth. In order to protect them from erosion caused by rainwater, two rows of thin tiles are laid parallel to each other on the upper part of the outer wall and form an integral artistic whole with the roof above. The artistic conception of such dwellings is simple but highly suggestive.

Even prior to the period of Warring States, Books such as Zhouli and Yili had already stipulated in written form the system of rites, but it was not until the Sui, Tang and the Five Dynasties that residences were controlled by sumptuary law. Entrance doors, for in- stance, of aristocrats took the form of Wutou (black head). As recorded in the chapter Yufuzhi (Systems of Living Facilities) of Tanghuiyao (Systems in the Tang Dynasty), For officials of more than the fifth rank, the main house should not exceed five bays and seven frames, and the hall should be at both ends. The door house should not exceed three frames. A black head entrance door should generally be constructed. Ordinary buildings, such as the storeyed pavilion-type building of the Han Dynasty, were on the decline. Youchuntu (Picture of Touring in Spring) by Zhan Ziqian of the Sui Dynasty depicted country dwellings with the siheyuan of narrow rectangular layout surrounded by houses in a beautiful and quiet setting, the whole enhanced by the gently undulating roofs. The sanheyuan, a fenced compound consisting of thatched houses built on three sides of a yard, the fourth being taken up by a wall, is compact in layout. The wall here is of carved wood, and allowed the sighing of the wind in the forest of pine trees even to be heard in the hall. The compound, with its lingering charm and carefree and content air, displays a similar lightness and elegance to Lushan Caotang (Lushan Thatched Cottage) of Bai Juyi, the famous Tang dynasty poet.


The towering supended houses located among the group of vernacular dwellings at Linjiangmen in Chongqing are a magnificent sight. The alleys are so narrow that they resemble a labyrinth, and at each turn a new and completely different world presents itself. As an old Chinese poem says: To the end of the way, seemingly blocked by mountains and rivers, there appears a village anew, with thick willows and bright blossom.


  Their flat-roofed dwellings are made of adobe and have wooden beam roof with compact rib-work of compactly combined horizontal and vertical ribbed slabs which serve the purpose of partitioning or load-bearing in the same way as beams and posts. The configuration is complicated, flexible and varied. Space is often divided up by adobe floral walls and arched doors. As temperatures in this region can rise to as high as 47C, falling at night to just 20C, walls of buildings are constructed of immature soil and made especially thick. Grapevines are often to be seen forming long corridors along streets, and provide welcome shade.

  1. Vernacular Dwellings in Shanxi and Shaanxi

Worth mentioning is the fact that although the custom of sitting on the floor and using beds or couches was still widely practised from the Sui, Tang to the period of the Five Dynasties , the custom of sitting with ones legs pointing downwards began to be popular among the aristocracy , spreading to the whole country. It was towards the end of Tang and during the period of the Five Dynasties that the types of furniture that continued to be used in later periods too began to be developed. The disposal of indoor space and the design of rooms too, began to change. By the time of the Five Dynasties, dwellings of some aristocratic residences were already very different from popular dwellings, with floors for sitting on and sliding doors.


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Qingmingshanghetu, a painting by Zhang Zeduan of the Song Dynasty depicts urban life in the Northern Song capital of Dongjing, also called Bianliang. In the picture, farmers house outside the city are relatively crude and simple: some are huts with low wall, some are thatched or tile-covered houses. For urban dwellings, overhung gable-end or gable-and hipped roofs were employed. Bamboo booths are shown constructed in front of the projecting eaves, adding a further dimension to the roofs. House comer structures are particularly fine. The main ridges of two sides of the house are often prolonged to form two transom windows crossing perpendicularly. The mutually hooked form is often applied to the door houses of the siheyuan so that the roof curve produces a splendid effect. Trees and flowers are planted in the garden, a carefree and leisurely atmosphere.


Dwellings in the mountainous regions of Sichuan are built along practical lines. Courtyards are not very deep to save land, roofs in a siheyuan join up to keep out the rain and protect the inside rooms from excessive sunlight in summer. Overhanging eaves and gable-ends project widely to protect walls constructed of earth or wooden panels, or those of the pile and earth type, from damage by rainwater.



  1. The Diaofang of Tibetan People

In the period of the two Song Dynasties, the custom of sitting with legs pointing downward at last replaced that of kneeling, practised since Shang and Zhou times. Furniture in daily use at, or on which one sat, such as tables and chairs now became highly popular. This new type of furniture also led to pile-supported floors in vernacular dwellings being superseded by ones of earth as well as to a change in the shape of houses. High and slender forms replaced the former lower heights and deeper depths, and the height of the lattice work windows also increased. It is only in Korea that dwellings designed for the custom of sitting on the floor, dating from the Tang Dynasty, are still to be seen.

  The size of courtyards in dwellings is related to the climate. The colder the climate, the larger the courtyards will be. The aesthetic function of Chinese architecture is not only to give pleasure by dint of the outer appearance, but also, and even more important to help and enlighten human relations. The siheyuan is a regular square with straight sides, with an inside configuration of the character 井 implied. Since jingtianzhi (the system of the井-shaped field) of remote antiquity up to Mingtang, palace buildings of ancestral temples, the traditional architecture of China has consistently endeavored to give architectural art clear and definite social, political and ethical meaning. Division using the character井gives rise to a center which implies symmetry, stability, dignity and seriousness, To it, many symbolized contents may be attributed. According to the bagua (eight diagrams initiated in Yijing (the Book of Changes), Kun indicating the North symbolizes the earth and qian indicating the South symbolizes Heaven. Orientation to the north and the south therefore means conformance with heaven and earth, while conforming with the natural laws would ensure prosperity and bring luck. Huangdizhaijing (the classical Book on Buildings by Huangdi) reads: The house is the pivot of yin and yang and the model of human relations. Only sages with wisdom can interpret the principle. In a siheyuan, only the north room was considered ideal for dwelling purposes but it was in fact the halls used for reception and sacrificial rites that were located here, the east and west wing rooms, the dozuo and rear hall being the rooms actually dwelt in. As stated in the Liji(the Book of Rites); A man of dignity considers the ancestral temples first, the stable and storehouse second and the room for dwelling last when constructing houses. Reason therefore prevails over the function in China. The more sophisticated the configuration of the vernacular dwelling is, the more this maxim holds. The entrance gate, the yinbi, the chuihuamen, and the verandah all add dignity. Spatial arrangement within a siheyuan is orderly and the building are of reasonable dimension. In the inner courtyard of a siheyuan in Beijing there are often verandahs weaving round from the second gate to the main house, not only offering protection against rain, but also adding interest to the courtyard as they zigzag their way through.

Since the Ming Dynasty, many natives of Shanxi earned their living in other places, but on becoming rich and returning to their native land, they transformed the place into a region famous for its thriving economy.

This was the time when the aesthetic ideology of the literati and scholar-officials, its main characteristic of the pursuit of unaffected and natural beauty, increasingly began to influence taste in general. This aestheticism differed greatly from that of the governing class which was primarily interested in the bombastic and the excessively decorated. At this point, the difference between these two groups was especially obvious and influenced later generations. Thereafter, the contrast between vernacular and official buildings became even more marked, and their styles differed increasingly. Vernacular dwellings of the Song Dynasty thus possessed a refined and clear artistic style.

  Although the climate poses no problems for houses built of immature earth, well-to-do families still have their dwellings built of bricks as a precaution against erosion. Fine carvings decorate arched galleries, wall surfaces, niches, fireplaces, the compact rib work, ceilings, etc. As the inhabitants are Muslim, green colors are mostly used. In dwellings of the common people, internal decorations are simpler, and there is usually little furniture, but beautiful tapestries are hung on the walls for decoration.

Vernacular dwellings of Tibetans stand out on account of their successful treatment of profiles. The almost unavoidable monotony of the facades of buildings with a square or L-shaped layout is counteracted by projecting wooden structures, which contrast well with the solid and heavy stone walls and give the whole variety. Attention has not only been paid to function but to the general artistic effect as well.

In the rural scene depicted in the painting of Vast Land by Wang Ximeng of the Northern Song Dynasty, there are many dwellings, most of which possess courtyards with wall consisting mainly of bamboo fences and wooden palings. Entrance doors of various forms are shown. There are rooms to the left and right. Most of the vernacular dwellings are generally 工 shaped houses consisting of the front hall, the through corridor and the rear bedroom. All in all, these dwellings convey a leisurely atmosphere, making one want to linger. Outside the residences of aristocrats and officials, wutoumen (black-head gates) or door house was constructed, and in the case of the later, the interrupted laying method was often employed in the middle bay to allow for the passing of carts and horses. Gallery house often took the place of the winding corridors in order to increase living space, the siheyuan thus changed in function and appearance. The layout of the dwellings with its underlying principle of main room in front and bedroom to the rear introduced during the Han Dynasty remained unchanged, except for the fact that now through galleries were constructed to connect the hall for reception and sitting room and the bedroom to the rear, resulting in a T shaped,工 shaped or 王 shaped plan, with lateral rooms or courts on either side of the hall and bedroom. Houses were mostly overhung gable-end in form, and decorated with both ridge and wall beasts. In spite of the fact that in Northern Song period the use of dougong (corbel bracket), caissons, door houses and pained wooden beams were only allowed for officials residences and palace temples in an effort to maintain the feudal system of hierachy, the law was on occasion ignored by landlords and rich merchants.

  These have a long history. In the period of the Hemudu civilization, about 1000 years ago, very mature ganlan-type buildings already existed. The Liao Zhuan, a description of the Liao nationality in the book Wei Shu, which tells the history of the Wei Dynasty, says the following: The Liao nationality is a branch of the Nanman. They live in the area stretching from Hanzhong to Qiong, Ze, Chuan and Dong, and consist of many branches scattered through the valleys.leaning against trees, they pile up wood to live thereon. Ganlan-type dwellings were small storied buildings with bamboo for the columns or beams, the upper floors for dwelling and the lower ones for raising livestock or storing sundries.

Vernacular dwellings in Sichuan are all of the through-jointed frame type. The local people are adept in utilizing the topography. Construction is carried out according to the actual situation without adhering to established rules and regulations. In one and the same dwelling, there are often several contours on ground level. The Tuitai of the house base are traversal and longitudinal to coordinate the heights of roofs. Eaves are not very high and branches of trees growing in the vicinity result in an attractive combination of architecture and nature. In the vernacular dwellings in Chongqing and the mountainous region of Eastern Sichuan, the orientation of houses is not important and they are built against precipices. Suspended houses are far extended, some at different levels, producing a magnificent and brilliant sight.

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  Yunnan Province is located on the plateau. The climate is spring- like all year round without extremes of heat and cold. Strong winds, however, can blow, so vernacular dwellings have thick earth walls and semi-cylindrical roof tiles. One finds Yikeyin (seal) vernacular dwellings, so called because their form of layout is as square as a seal. The sanjiansier yikeyin type is the most common, sanjiansier denoting these main central rooms and two rooms on each side. Such layouts not only fulfill the functional requirements of living but also those of defense. Yikeyin houses are all multi-storied, with people living upstairs and the ground floor used for livestock and storage. The ground floor of the main house is taken up by the main room, used to receive guests. Rooms to the left and right of the main room serve as bedrooms. The central bay upstairs is used as the family hall for worshipping Buddha. Two or three yikeyin units can be used in line when it is a question of building larger dwellings, and those of high-clan families have a daozuo of daobachi at the entrance.

Diaofang is the common form of building on the Qing-Zang Plateau and in some areas of Inner Mongolia. According to Houhanshu (the history of the Western Han Dynasty), it already existed before the 6th year of Yuanding period, the Han Dynasty(111 BC). Built of irregular-shaped stones or of earth, the dwellings are of two or three stories, and because they are like a pillbox in outer appearance, they are called diaofang (pillbox house). The name diaofang may be traced back to the reign of Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Diaofang of the Tibetan people have an austere and almost sacred look. The wall is thick at the base and thin at the top with the load borne by the wall, compact rib-work and flat roof. The general layout is simple and usually square or L-shaped. For topographical and economic reasons, regions such as the Qing-Zang plateau have many undulating mountains and hills, ordinary dwellings are built upwards to conserve land, sometimes having a small courtyard in between. Diaofang has fine and inspiring interiors and an impressive external appearance.

  Guizhou Province is located to the east of the Yungui Plateau. Here hills rise and fall, surface soil is poor with rocks and stones everywhere. The local people utilize the readily available material to build their houses, and even flat mountain rocks are sometimes used for the walling of vernacular dwellings. The wooden frames of the houses are of the through-jointed type. The sloping roof surfaces are covered with thin layers of limestone and not given ridge tiles, solving the problem of roof ridge leaking.

The cave-dwelling of Shanxi and Shaanxi is unique in conception, and various shapes exist, depending on the natural environment, geographical features and local customs. They can, however, be divided into three categories as far as the configuration and structure are concerned, namely: the kaoya (against a precipice), the xiachen (sunk) and the duli (independent) types. Kaoya-type cave-houses are further divided into kaoshan (against a mountain) and yangou(facing a gully). Caves are often arranged in curved or zig- zag lines, lending them harmonious beauty and architectural artistry. Where the height of the slope permits, cave-dwellings are often arranged in layers like storied houses. Xiachen type cave-dwellings are constructed underground, and mainly distributed in loess areas without slopes or gullies. Construction of such dwellings is as follows: a square pit is first dug out to form a siheyuan, the cave-dwellings then being dug out in the direction of the four walls. Such dwellings are only to be found in China and Tunisia. While in Tunisia, existing cave-dwellings of this type are rare, they are still widely used by a good number of people in China, a fact that is unique in the world. The duli cave-dwelling is a kind of archtype house covered with earth. There are cave-dwelling both of fired and unfired bricks, earth, and with brick or stone arches. As stated above, such dwellings need not lie against a precipice and can stand independently, but still possess the merits of a cave-house.

  A Combination of Forms (part 4)

The ground floor is generally used for raising livestock and for the storage of fodder. Floors above consist of sitting rooms, bedrooms, a kitchen and storage space. On the top floor, there is a flat roof for drying, a Buddhist scripture hall, an airing gallery and a toilet. The Buddhist scripture hall is located in the best position, worthy of particular mention, the toilet, some project out of the wall, supported by extended brackets, and have the enclosure braided with twigs so that the feces drop directly into the manure pit outside the wall.


As a result of the climate in the Sichuan Basin with its hot summer, rare snow in winter, its plentiful rainfall and moderate winds, vernacular dwellings are of the single-storey type with tile roofs, sihetou, and large overhanging eaves. Attics are used for storage, and help insulate the building.

  Sihewutianjing is a siheyuan plus an entrance zhaobi and the encircling walls to make five large and small tianjing (patio, a small roofless space in a building or in a yard enclosed by houses on four sides or on three sides with a wall on the fourth). The Bai people prefer their houses to be built by the side of a hill or mountain, only thus is the well-being of the family guaranteed. The rear end of the principal axis of the building is thus set against a nearby hill, it being forbidden to have the back of a vernacular building facing a gully or an open place.

  1. Vernacular Dwellings in Sichuan

  Both the outer and inner walls of jinggan-type dwellings are made of piled-up debarked round or square logs, with deep grooves being provided on the contact surfaces of the logs to facilitate stable piling and water-proofing. Crossed joints are used at wall corners. The logs of inner partition walls are also crossed and exposed. Lapping round logs are roughly exposed without being painted. The name of this type of building derives from its shape. Currently, this type of house is restricted to the forest zones of Northeast China Xinjiang and Yunnan. The roofs are generally of xuanshan type, some have their gaps smeared with clay for protection against the wind and cold. Roofs are of straw or bark, but roofs of wood slices are more representative. Jinggan-type dwellings are scattered about in small villages as a precaution against fire. Of these, the most impressive are those of the Naxi in Yongning County, Yunnan.

A Combination of Forms (part 3)

  12. Vernacular Dwellings in Xinjiang

The valley of the Yellow River, with its clement climate and plentiful supply of water, was once fertile. The following lines taken from Shijing, a book of the poetry of ancient China, attest to this. Look into the forest, there are many deer. On the slope, there are varnish trees, in the swamps, there are chestnut trees. On the slope, there are mulberry trees; in the swamps, there are poplar trees. Conditions, alas, have changed; wars and the destruction caused by man have left their mark.

  In sparsely populated areas, ganlan-type dwellings are ideal for fending off wild beasts. They also uphold the ancient tradition of huotang (fireplace, a hollow made in the floor for an open fire for the cooking of food, the heating of water and the drying of clothes). The huotang is also to be found on the second floor, the number depending on the ethnic group and the number of brothers; but there is generally at least one. In addition to the uses mentioned above, they also serve to repel mosquitoes, and blackened beams and floor panels are less likely to be attacked by woodworm. The huotang is also used for smoking meat and vegetables.


  In many villages, too, the ground is paved with stone slabs, the floors are of stone, water urns are also of stone and mangers are chiseled out of stone blocks. Whole villages of stone slab houses have a special character. Hundreds of steps zigzag their way up- wards to the top of the village. Arched gates span the road and high staggered buildings constructed of flat pieces of stone piled up one on top of the other are an impressive sight. Stone slab houses are to be found around the Huaxi District of Guiyang, Zhenning and Anshun in the province of Guizhou, in Ankang in the province of Shaanxi and in the mountainous region of the municipality of Beijing. From the famous waterfall in Huangguoshu one can easily walk to the shitouzhai (stone village) in Zhenning.

  Interesting are the earth arches with their wide spans, on top of which airy courtyards are constructed, and tunnel-like long alleys which are widen and narrow.

  Dwellings of the outer-gallery type of the Jingpo in Yunnan are of the low storied ganlan type. The roofs are of double pitch, larger at the top and smaller lower down. Bronze funeral objects unearthed from a tomb with a wooden outer coffin and a bronze inner coffin found in the village of Xiangyun County in Yunnan Province testify to the fact that during the period of the warring states (400 BC), there were already at that time such ganlan-type buildings with roofs of inverted trapezoidal shape with a longer ridge and shorter eaves. In ancient times, the heads of oxen or even human heads were hung from the eves as a demonstration of the fighting spirit and courage of the master of the house. The Jingpo still use this form of dwell-Jinggan-type dwelling is also a style of building that was already in existence in ancient China. Patterns on vessels for storing shells and bronze articles unearthed from Shizhai Mountain in Yunnan give us an indication of what these dwellings looked like, the method of construction emerging as early as the Han Dynasty. The jinggan-type storied building constructed in the reign of Wudi of the Han Dynasty was very tall, and was once described in the following way: Climbing only half way up a jinggan-type storied building leaves one feeling faint. Other interesting literary records of the high-rise buildings of the Han Dynasty are to be found in zhangfanhanji, Dongguanhanji etc.


  The city of Dali in the province of Yunnan is a beautiful place and famous for its folk songs. Eighteen brooks from Cangshan Mountain flow here into lake Erhai. The crystal-clear water is partly diverted through the town, making a murmuring sound as it runs through the stone channels of the streets and alleys. The brooks themselves are rendered green by the waterweeds, swaying like stalks of wheat in the breeze as the water flows gently over them. Bai girls are often to be seen washing clothes at dusk, an attractive sight against the background of the houses with their black tiles and white walls. Bai vernacular dwellings are justly famous. Sanfangyizhaobi and sihewutianjing are the layouts typically used and buildings are built to best withstand the strong gales and frequent earthquakes. A so-called fang is a two-storied house comprising three bays. Sanfangyizhaobi is a sanheyuan composed of three encircling two-storied houses of three bays each, plus a zhaobi. Such layouts are relatively common and are the most popular for the vernacular dwellings of the Bai.

  Rainfallin the Turfan Basin in Xinjiang is practically non-existent, with so-called earth-rain falling on spring and summer days. At this time, loess dust is everywhere even cutting out the sunlight. The Uygur people adapt to this climate by planting grapevines and fruit trees in the courtyards of their dwellings and in summer eating outdoors or receiving guests under the grapevine.


  11. Siheyuan in Beijing