Nyinba - Settlements



All four Nyinba villages include a main settlement at the center of village territory plus one or more small hamlets located nearer its borders. The largest village includes fifty-eight households, the smallest twenty-seven households (the constituent hamlets are two to seven households in size). The settlement pattern is nucleated; the houses are tightly clustered, with adjoining walls and roofs in the larger and older settlements. These houses are large and three stories tall; they are solidly built of fashioned stone and timber, often covered with a layer of mud plaster. At ground level is the barn, which is subdivided into compartments for different domestic animals. On the second story is the family's main quarters. This typically consists of a kitchen-cum-living room, a windowless storage room for valuables, another storage room also used for sleeping, and a long outer corridor, where a small, second hearth is placed. On the top story stand a number of storage sheds. The main living rooms have plank floors and carved pillars, while the other rooms have earthen floors and roughly cut pillars. Windows are small and closed by shutters; glass remains exceedingly rare. Villages and hamlets are surrounded by agricultural land, with the hamlets located adjacent to more recently reclaimed lands on the margins of village Territory. Each village has rights to specific forest and grazing lands. Each village also includes its own gompa, the temple and domestic establishment of a noncelibate Buddhist lama. These buildings are set apart from the houses of lay people, typically located above village settlements and in a "pure" place.


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