Maisin - Settlements

The nine coastal villages range in size from less than 100 to more than 300 people. All but two of the villages are situated in clusters of two or three other communities. Local populations rise and fall considerably as people move between Villages and town. A few villages are composed of a single kin group, but most are multinucleated settlements of patrician hamlets, strung out along the coast. Most hamlets are arranged in two roughly parallel lines following the edge of the shore. A few hamlets, homes of the higher-ranking clans, have houses arranged in a rough circle around a bare earth plaza, traditionally used for feasting and dancing. Where hamlets are not contiguous, paths connect them to other parts of the settlement and to the gardens and other settlements. The three largest villages possess simple churches, school buildings (including houses for teachers), medical aid posts, and community trade stores. Prior to contact, Maisin constructed their dwellings on mangrove posts, 3 to 4 meters above ground. A platform on the bottom level served as a cooking area and shelter during the day, while an upper level room, entered by means of a ladder, served as sleeping quarters. Since the 1920s, the Maisin have built rectangular houses with windows and verandahs, along the lines of house styles introduced by the colonial administration in the 1920s. The houses are still on posts and constructed mostly of bush materials. In the mid-1980s, some villagers, with funds provided by working relatives, began to construct houses with metal roofs.

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