Jingpo - Settlements



An average Jingpo village has about twenty households. A few larger villages exist near the major points of traditional caravan trade roads or military strongholds. The villages are mostly permanent, as the people have practiced terraced paddy farming for over a century. Most Jingpo villages are built on the mountain slopes, facing the valley. Within the village, family houses are scattered irregularly on several terraces of the hill slope. The crests of the ridges form rough roadways. Generally, there are two designs among Dehong Jingpo houses; the major difference is the location of the entrance and corridor. One is of traditional style, with its main entrance on the side and its lengthwise corridor inside, while the other is of mixed Han and Jingpo style, with a small entrance hall in the front of the house. The former type is mainly seen in the area inhabited by the Jingpo branch; the latter style is popular in the area of the Zaiwa and other branches. Jingpo houses are wood-framed, thatch-roofed, walled with mats made of thin bamboo strips, and floored with split bamboo. Wealthy families have their house frames mortised and floors planked. The rectangular shedlike structure is usually raised about 1 meter above the ground. A house usually has five rooms, each with a fireplace in the center. As a rule, a room at the end of the upslope side is designated for spirits. It is empty except for a bamboo sacrificial altar against the side wall. For Christian Jingpo the room is no longer for spirits but serves as a bedroom or storage room. For most families the center room serves as a kitchen; a few rich families have their separate kitchen buildings. The house roof extends at either end, supported by a post, and thus forms a porch hut, where the wife feeds pigs and husks rice by hand or with a food pestle, the husband makes farm tools, and the children play. Buffalo-owning families build their buffalo sheds by the house. Many households have separate tower-shaped mud-brick grain bins behind the houses to keep their grain dry and safe from fire.


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