Lisu - Settlements

With the exception of heavily acculturated valley villages in China and Thailand, Lisu villages are located on hill slopes just below the ridge line, generally at elevations between 1,300 and 3,000 meters. Sites require adequate water, usually brought in by bamboo aqueducts, since living too close to a source may invite attack by the water spirit. Defense, separation from ethnic groups with whom Lisu do not get along, good agricultural land, and cheap sources of labor (Karen, Lahu, or Yuan) are also considerations in siting villages in Thailand. There is a circulation of population among Lisu villages: individuals, families, and groups move at frequent intervals. Some villages have remained in the same location for sixty years or more, though in Thailand the average is closer to ten. Village size varies from 5 to more than 150 houses, the average in Thailand being 26. A hut for the village spirit occupies the highest elevation, and houses below should face the nearest stream, the main door thus opening downslope. Houses are built on piles or directly on the ground, the latter said to be a Chinese influence. Walls and floors are of split bamboo, roofs of thatch. A box filled with earth serves for a cooking fire. Bedrooms are in the corners for married couples; there is one for unmarried daughters and a raised sleeping/sitting platform in the main room for the unmarried sons. Animals are quartered under the house or in separate pens.

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