T'in - Settlements



Most T'in live at mid-level elevations near the headwaters of the Mae Nam Nan, between Tai groups (Yuan, Lue, Lao) in the river valleys, and between Hmong and Mien in the higher mountains. T'in villages are located between 300 and 1,300 meters, close to a reliable source of drinking water. Villages vary in size from 4 or 5 households to over 100, and they often include scattered hamlets or individual houses with varying degrees of autonomy. T'in villages are sometimes interspersed with those of their Tai, Hmong, or Mien neighbors. The largest and most stable villages are those with a sound economic basis: salt wells, miang (fermented tea leaves chewed as a mild stimulant), or access to favorable agricultural land at lower elevations. Village gates with carved wooden spirit posts may still be found, though more and more they fall into disrepair through neglect. Several households, who may or may not be related, cooperate in house building. A house should face west, with an entrance porch reached by a wooden ladder or notched log. Houses are built on wooden piles, usually windowless, with walls and floors of bamboo or wood and thatched roofs. The roof may overhang to cover the family's rice pounder. Flimsy bamboo walls partition off bedrooms in the corners. Rattan mats are used for sitting and sleeping. Rice is stored in a granary set on piles or in large rattan containers inside the house. Villagers move whenever they believe the soil to be exhausted, or when sickness, accidents, or bad omens occur too frequently. Village stability among Tin is greater than among highlanders such as Lisu or Hmong.

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