Maonan people pay more attention to their houses than to
their food. Their houses are built with rock, earth,
bricks and timber. The foundation and the lower parts of
the walls are built with rocks, which can be either
rocks or shaped rocks. Wealthy families have
their houses built with bricks and shaped rocks. The
upper parts of the walls are built with earth or bricks.
Again, affluent families have the walls built with
bricks. The front walls are often made of wooden planks.
The setting of the house conforms to the surrounding
topography. Some houses are built according to the
advice of the geomancers (i.e. the Fong-Sui masters).
Structural details of the house are said to be decided
according to the birthday of the owner of the house.
Traditionally, the important stages in the construction
must be carefully planned so that they fall on
that are regarded as auspicious. These stages include
the felling of the first log, digging the first shovel
of earth, laying the first brick, lifting the main
pillars, fitting the front door, laying the first tile,
setting up the shrine, moving in, etc. On the day of
raising the main pillars, religious masters are invited
to hold a ritual and a banquet is to be served. The
villagers will come to help with the work and stay for
A typical Maonan house has two storeys. The upper floor
is for people and the lower ground floor for livestock.
is because it would be too damp for people to live
on the lower floor. In such a hilly area, space is very
limited and a separate cowshed or stable would take up
too much valuable farmland. A cowshed under the living
quarters also functions as a safe house against theft
and at the same time is convenient for feeding the
The truss structure of a typical Maonan house is not
built in the shape of a triangle as it is often found in
the houses in the Han areas. Rather, they consist of a
number of crosses, that is, the beams intersect in right