Vietnam Art Books -- Stilt houses symbolise cultural identity of ethnic groups (March 22, 2005)

Stilt houses symbolise cultural identity of ethnic groups (March 22, 2005)

The houses on stilts of different ethnic groups in Vietnamís mountainous and mid-land regions have stood the test of time and have retained their original architecture over the centuries. Its unique structure reflects the peopleís close bond between themselves and nature.

According to researchers, the architecture and structure of stilt houses stems from a peopleís inclination to harmonise with nature. It also shapes the community lifestyle of that culture. Made out of simple material like bamboo and wood, the stilt houses function well in the hot and humid weather which is typical in tropical Asian countries. Stilt houses can be used by the Thai, Muong, Tay and Nung people in the north and the Ba Na, Se Dang and Gia Rai in the Central Highlands.

There are two variations of stilt houses in the northern region. The first features a roof in the shape of a boat and has no walls while the otherís roof is very steeply pitched and high and is stunningly decorated with animal motifs. The roof is of palm leaves or clay tiles and sheds water very well, creating a perfect storage space for grain. The stilt houses of the Tay and Nung people are often built against the mountain facing the field while those of the Muong and Thai are clustered in villages or hamlets.

Bui Van Que, a Muong man living in the northern province of Hoa Binh, said "The old stilt house is often 10-metre long and 5-metre wide. It is built with eight supporting pillars inside and 12 outside, all of hard wood, strongly resistant to insects."

Most of peopleís daily activities take place inside the house.

Hoang Thi Khien, deputy director of the Hoa Binh provincial Culture Department, said "The stilt house architecture originated from the supernatural beliefs of different ethnic groups and has been considered a repository of their cultural values."

Reprinted from VOV News


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