Pahari - Settlements



Throughout most of the Pahari region the population is clustered in small villages, usually of well under 350 people. These are situated adjacent to open hillsides, near pasturage, forested land, and a reliable water source—either a stream or a spring. The hillsides are terraced for agriculture, the terraces irrigated where possible from upstream sources through Systems of canals and flumes that also serve to power water mills. Houses are rectangular, of two or occasionally more stories, made of 46-centimeter-thick stone and adobe mortar walls and reinforced by wooden beams (in some regions the upper stories are made largely or entirely of wood), with gabled (but in some areas flat) roofs of slate, heavy wooden shakes, or thatch. They are no more than two rooms deep, but vary greatly—up to six rooms—in length. In many regions, as in Sirkanda, they characteristically have a large open central living room ( tibari ) or veranda near the middle, on the front (downhill) side, supported by ornamentally carved columns. Doors, door frames, and windows—and often rafters and beams as well—are also likely to be ornately carved and sometimes painted. Next to the living room is a kitchen; other rooms serve as bedrooms and storage rooms. Occupants, comprising an extended family, live on the second floor in anywhere from two to six rooms reached by one or more external stone stairways; livestock live on the ground floor. Within a village houses tend to be arranged along the contour of the land in parallel rows of several houses each.

Many landowning families own additional houses ( chaan ) situated near fields or pastures at a distance from the village sufficient to make tending them difficult from there. Chaans are usually of a single story shared by livestock and people, separated by a wooden curb or sometimes a partition. They may be occupied seasonally or year-round depending upon circumstances: often a family will have a higher-elevation chaan for use in summer and a lower-elevation chaan for use in winter. The hills are alive with movement when the seasons change and people, goods, and animals are moved from one location (chaan, village house) to another. Chaans provide a way to separate family members without dividing the family. Clusters of chaans may evolve into villages as population increases—the names of many villages reveal their former chaan status.


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