"Building with hanging feet" at the foot of hills and beside streams
In the past, there was a saying in Guizhou: "The miaos live in high mountains, the Dongs live near water, and the Qilaos live at stone corners." This reflects to some extent the living characters of the local minority groups.
Most of the Miaos live in mountain area. At the foot of hills and beside streams, a village contains ten or 100-200 households, and there are big villages containing over 1000 households. House style is different in different places, but one-storey house and building are main styles. Among them the "building with hanging feet" is the most characteristic and popular one.
The building with hanging feet is typical pile dwelling building, which is built on deep mountain slope with big gradient. When being established, the side facing the south is dug into a foundation of two storeys like two steps. Short poles are erected on the upper storey, and long poles are put on the lower storey. By this way, the board of the front of the house can be as high as the ground at the back of the house. Poles directly erected on the lower storey becomes hanging feet poles supporting the front half of the house, and the name "building with hanging feet" comes from this.
"Building with hanging feet" usually has three storeys: the lowest storey is used to keep domestic animals and fowls and to pile firewood and farm tools. The middle storey is the main place for family diet and daily life, the outside of which is corridor and long wound-railing benches like balconies are fixed in the middle. The third storey can be used as bedroom or for storing things.
Materials for "building with hanging feet" are mainly fir wood. According to traditional standard, a "building with hanging feet" of three storeys about 30 chi wide needs 24 poles, 40-50 sleepers, 39 purlins, 28 big and small square woods, 135 rafters, 600 square woods, 600 pieces of boards and 15,000 pieces of tiles. What's surprising is that in such a big building, only some iron nails are used to fix the rafters, and other parts are all constructed by mortise and tenon, which reflects the excellent building skill of the Miao people.
There are many ceremonies, proprieties and art in building for the Miaos, and it shouldn't be done carelessly. "Stepping the new house" is one of the ceremonies. After the new house is completed, relatives and friends in the village or from other villages should bring presents to congratulate the host. When guests from other villages come into the village, they should set off firecrackers. Hearing the sound of firecrackers, the host gets out and welcomes the guests, invites them into the new house, and spreads a feast. They gather happily under the same roof. Everybody raises one's wine up, sings loudly setting house song to congratulate the establishment of new house, wishing the family members live happily and satisfactorily.
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