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Ancient Places / Trip Ideas

Where people live in mountainside houses

By Weiwei Guan

September 27

Residents of Miao Village in Guizhou have houses built on stilts on the mountainside.

Residents of Miao Village in Guizhou have houses built on stilts on the mountainside.

From a viewing platform three hundred meters away, a visitor can see thousands of Xijiang’s greenish-brown mountainside houses. In southwest China’s Guizhou Province, these pillar-supported wooden buildings have been preserved by locals for countless generations.

Houses built on stilts on the mountainside, Xijiang Miao Village, Guizhou Province. [Image Credit: VCG]
Houses built on stilts on the mountainside, Xijiang Miao Village, Guizhou Province. [Image Credit: VCG]
The houses on stilts, called Diaojiaolou, house people from the Tujia, Miao, Buyi and Dong ethnic minorities. Sitting high above the ground, the design provides natural ventilation while protecting against insects and wild animals. Covered-bridges, called wind-rain bridges in Chinese, are made of wood and built above rivers. Xijiang Miao Village has five such bridges.

Wind-rain bridge [Image Credit: VCG]
Wind-rain bridge [Image Credit: VCG]
In Miao villages, silver serves a symbolic purpose and people usually make silver jewelry by hand. Guizhou Provincial Museum exhibits silver jewelry from different times that shows how the Miao people attach totems and culture meanings to the items.

Miao girl wearing silver jewelry [Image credit: photostock.china.com.cn]
Miao girl wearing silver jewelry [Image credit: photostock.china.com.cn]
Miao people have many ways to welcome guests. In one ceremony, a host serves wine by pouring it from higher cups to lower ones and finally to the guest’s cup. If you like your drink, you don’t want to miss this.

A hospitable way of drinking [Image Credit: VCG]
A hospitable way of drinking [Image Credit: VCG]
The village has mild weather year-round but visitors might need to bring a jacket to watch the night sky. November is a recommended time to visit Miao Village, as the locals celebrate their new year with grand ceremonies and activities.

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