Splitting houses - an interesting feature in Mai Chau
Talking to Hoa Binh, people often think of Mai Chau with the beautiful and brilliant scenery, an ideal ecotourism and especially the charm of the poetic and unique Mai Chau splitting houses, containing the cultural and long traditional value of the people here.
The cultural characteristic of the Thai people
The splitting house is a beautiful feature of Thai culture, a symbol of the harmony between the universe and nature, is really a necessary thing in Mai Chau for traveling. The number of compartments and stairs in the Thai conception are always an odd number with the top of the roof shaped like a turtle shell, associated with the legend from the period of building the country that the Turtle god taught the Thai people how to make turtle-shaped houses.
The cultural and traditional beauty of the Muong people
The story told that in the past, the Thai people did not know how to build houses. One night, they dreamed of a turtle who said: "Look at my shape to build houses, four legs are four pillars to support the house, and the shell is the roof". From then on, the Thai splitting house was shaped like a turtle shell. This story is similar to the house building story of the Muong people who reside in the Northwest valley. Constructing splitting houses also help them avoid the strong wind, storms, and wild animals. The splitting house is not only a place for accommodation, residence, and activities of the Thai people but it is also considered as the cultural characteristics in Mai Chau. Traveling there, tourists will have a chance to watch these interesting Mai Chau homestays and also find out the must-try dishes in Mai Chau.
The architecture of splitting houses in Mai Chau
The cultural tradition of the Muong people does not allow to build houses into rows, but the splitting houses of them always lean on the higher lands such as hillside or flank. Each house can be arranged and decorated differently but the basic structure of space and compartment of those houses is identical.
“The house has an attic, the floor has columns”
Traditionally, the Thai people must live in splitting houses as they have specified in the idiom: "The house has an attic, the floor has columns". Thai splitting house has a beauty that is distinct, simple but still luxurious.
The unique decoration of a splitting house for tourist
The splitting house is the center of the Muong living space. Previously, the traditional house of the Muong people has a gate called "lang chang gate" which is knitted with bamboo and covered by “dong” leaves (the leaves that are used to wrap chung cake in New Year).
In order to decorate the house, the Thai people carve diverse elaborate patterns on the window sill, on the sawtooth-shaped window bars, on the "khau cut" (two planks crossing to create an “X” on the roof). The Thai villages usually live in the foothills of the mountains where the curvy streams cross by.
The splitting house has a structure of woody plants and trees such as bamboo, cane, etc, and it is roofed with “gianh” grass. For those who used to familiar with the life of the handicraft industry of people here, in the first time seeing the splitting house, they must be surprised due to the massive like the house of the noble in the old days without using any iron in the design of construction. Instead of nails, people use a system of ligaments, tie them quite elaborately and delicately with bamboo, cane, and rattan, or the phloem of trees such as “nang hu”, “nang xa”, “nang xieu”. The architecture looks simple but very solid and strong enough to resist the sun, rain, wind, and storm. Even, there are splitting houses existing for hundreds of years.
Mai Chau is beautiful as a picture
Looking at the roof structure of the splitting house, we can distinguish the types of houses of different local groups:
Splitting houses of the white and black Thai have the roof shaping a turtle shell and are usually placed on the two top with patterns are the white lacquered wooden sculptures like a pair of horns called “khau cut”. “Khau cut” has several types such as “khau cut be”, “khau cut meo”, and “khau cut pua”. They are a form of decorative patterns of the black Thai ethnic minority.
A splitting house is a space that contains a cell unit of the whole society, so the Thai people call it "house of community" (also called “chua huon”). It could be a small family of a couple and children, or it could be a large family of three or four generations living harmoniously together.
Fireplace - the soul of the Muong splitting house
Finally, the most special and important part of a splitting house is the fireplace. The main fireplaces are located inside the house and below the floor. Inside the old Thai house, there were always two fireplaces, one for the elderly and one for the ladies, but today in Thai house, there is only one fireplace for everyone in the family. Stairs in the house also have two, one for men and one for women.
The unique feature of Mai Chau, Hoa Binh
On the cold winter days, the meal is usually used next to the fire. Grandparents and their children, grandchildren sit around the fire to warm and chat together. The Muong people rarely leave the kitchen to cold. If they do not cook, they will burn coal under the ash so the fireplace always has warmth. The warmth of the splitting house reflects the united, warm, and friendly culture of the Muong people that has been preserved for generations for hundreds of years. Visitors to the house are also friendly welcomed next to the fireplace.
In the midst of the green natural forest of the Northwest, splitting houses still exist as the most obvious evidence of the longevity of traditional Muong culture. Today, splitting houses are also used as a form of tourism accommodation for travelers. A Mai Chau day trek will provide you the best services and the most interesting experience. If it is helpful for you, please like and share with others. Thank you.