Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beyond the Great Wall - Dai Architecture

There are 1.5 billion people who live in China, and approximately 92% are Han Chinese, that is ethnically Chinese. Most of this blog explores the Han culture. However, in the outer regions of China, beyond the great wall,  various ethnic "minorities" abound. In fact, there are 56 officially recognized ethnic "minorities" in China, which accounts for about 125 million people.

Traditional Dai houses are high on stilts, using bamboo as the main construction material. The lower level  is used for livestock like chickens and pigs, and as storage for dried goods. It is also a work area for brewing rice liquor, and for weaving. The living, cooking and sleeping areas are upstairs.

Dai houses have a main support pillar which is considered sacred, blessing the house to be free of disaster. It is not acceptable to lean on the pillar or even put things near it.

There is a lovely custom in Dai villages, in which the villagers help each other in the construction of new homes - when a family is ready to build a house, the rest of the villagers come to help, and are thanked afterwards with a celebration.

To learn more about the Dai, check out our other posts for Beyond the Great Wall, including a printable bookmark inspired by Dai embroidery , the peacock dance and craft, and a water splashing festival.
Photos credited to Lon&Queta

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