Diaojiaolou, a House on Stilt

Diaojiaolou (literally means hanging attic) is a residential house with a dense architectural flavor of the ethnic minority in the southwestern Yunnan Province. The wooden building is built close to the mountain or above the river with an extended floor space. These houses are usually built on slopes with only support poles and no foundations, and are entirely made of wood without iron.

The Miao and Tujia people (two minority groups living in Yunnan) prefer to live at the foot of a hill and near a stream. Their houses stand on a slope and are supported by several wooden columns. The foothold of the house look precarious, but it is actually steady and safe. The dwellings have two to three stories with a verandah. The ground floor is served as livestock sheds or storehouse for firewood and equipments; while the second floor, which is usually supported by 24 pillars, is occupied by family members.

The reason to do that was: firstly, for resisting since there were lots of wild animals in old days; the next one was for the residents’ health, as the climate in hill was very humid, the people would become ill if they stayed on the first floor for long time; last but not least, people living upstairs have better lighting so they can work on handicrafts or rest. The second floor was divided into two parts — the front one and the back one, the former was used for rest and manual labor while the rear part consists of rooms with a fireplace, memorial ancestral tablet, as well as a place to cook dishes and get warm. Bedrooms are located on the third floor.  

The Miao and Tujia people love beautiful things and they enjoy dressing up the environment. They like to carve the house into bamboo shapes and install corridors and carved balusters to the wooden buildings. They build small houses of stones with carved patterns to shelter wells and fill them with colorful fish. The Miao villages are usually bordered with huge, old trees that emit an air of tranquility and peacefulness. People pave the stone paths with different patterns, calling them flower streets. Strolling through Dong villages is just like walking into a gallery.

Source: http://www.linese.com/