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Folk Houses of the Naxi Minority


Naxi minority is an age-old ethic group, the people of Naxi are mostly distributed in Lijiang region of southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Due to the climate and local conditions, folk houses of the Naxi minority are mainly of earth and wood structure. They were mostly built in forms as "three rooms and one screen wall", "four courtyards and five patios", "two overlapped courtyards", and "one room", with the first one being the most commonly style.


Most of local folk houses are peculiarly built close to water. Roofs of the folk houses are mainly of overhanging gable type and embedded with boards for warding off rain. Also, they are usually hung with suspended fish ornaments, which not only generate a sense of architectural arrangement, but also stand for the house owners' incorruptibility and noble-mindedness.



Ornaments in folk houses of the Naxi minority mainly include carved-wood partition fan doors and windows as well as flower-hung chapiters, with the gate as the most crucial part requiring decoration. Decorative patterns are mainly dragon, phoenix and lotus, which represent auspiciousness and nobleness. Some places are even carved and decorated by attaching and painting gold or brushing in red, so as to achieve the effect of richness, honor and dignity. The floor is usually paved with broken tiles, cobbles or other materials into auspicious and beautiful patterns.


Naxi people take agriculture and stockbreeding as the means of life. There are quite a lot of religions in the Naxi minority, mainly the primitive Dongba Religion which is polytheism and does not have systematic doctrines, unified organizations or even temples. For this reason, Naxi people are open-minded and all-embracing to the culture of Han and other ethnic groups. A combination of architectural features of Naxi minority with other ethnic groups can be seen from the folk houses of Naxi people. They are therefore in possession of not only the characteristics of folk houses of the Bai minority in Dali, but also the enchantment of those in the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.


Residential houses of Naxi minority are distinctly adopted to nature and local conditions, and featured by exquisite and elegant decorations. They reflect the Naxi's fine tradition of advocating nature and culture, and also, being apt at learning and absorbing advanced culture of other ethnic groups.


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