Three ancient houses in Hà Giang

Hà Giang is in the far North of Vietnam, known to be the rocky highland because its rock and limestone formation take up to 90% of the province’s area. H’Mông ethnic is the largest group of inhabitants, families form up in villages scattering on high hills. They have their own language and writing, unlike some other ethnic groups that mostly have spoken languages without any writing. 

The kitchen in Vừ house, one of three houses mentioned in Notesbook 01. Photo: Trieu Chien

Some historical documents mention in quite detail that H’Mông ethnic is originated from China, gradually migrated to the South which is the northern territory of Vietnam and South East Asia including Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar from late 16th century.

It can be spotted easily many similarities between the architecture of H’Mông residence and the architecture of Tulou cluster in the South of China, which are typically constructed by earth walls with wooden structure, roofed with Yin and Yang tiles. The house is enclosed by man-height rock fence.

Owners often plant a wild peach-blossom in the yard, they could use stones/rocks to pave a path from the entrance to the house to keep everything tidy and clean if one could afford. The size of the house depends on the number of residents, the location of the house indicates the vision of its owner. Because H’Mông people mainly live on high mountains, their houses are usually low with maximum of 2 stories, functional rooms are interconnected altogether facing the internal yard. A big house may have more than a single yard; based on the mountain position, each house’s yard has different height with conditions on the function of use. Until now, this architecture still stands up to rigors of climate condition and historical context.

In this article, the writer would like to introduce the representative architecture of three houses from three different families, thereby providing an overview of H’Mông house in the old time and its changes over times.

More details about three ancient houses in Notesbook 01

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