Primi Houses and Villages

Primi villages are generally small, around 20 to 30 households, and scattered but close together, usually at least 500 meters from one another, on gentle slopes halfway up mountains. Members of the same clan often settle together according to the distance of blood relationship. The distance is very short between villages: traditionally smoke from kitchen chimneys could be seen and the crow of cocks and bark of dogs could be heard between villages. Each family makes a yard and different families are neighbors.

The Primi House (Photo from union.china.com.cn)

Primi houses are generally made of wood and have two levels. The traditional Primi house is a kind of log cabin. The lower level is reserved for animals and storing stuff and the upper level is for people. On one side of the upper level are the bedrooms and on the other side is a large main room with the central fireplace and possibly a Buddhist shrine. This room where most of the family activities take place. The walls are made of overlapping 12-centimeter-thick logs. The roof is composed of several wood blocks, two of which are called sliding board (because they can be pulled and slid). In the four corners, there stand four columns.

A traditional Primi house, commonly called a "Muleng house" or "Muleizu" has two storeys. The main room on the upper level is 6.5 meters long and about three meters wide. Big posts are erected at the four corners, and a square post is erected in the middle, which is called "Mainstay" ("Samawa" in Primi language) and is regarded as the place where gods stay. A crossbeam with the shape of the Chinese character referring to human beings is put up on the ridge of the house, and boards or tiles are covered on the roof. The wall is piled up with round wood.

The Primi House (Photo from ynszxc.gov.cn)

The arrangement of the room has fixed pattern: the door is toward the east and there is a fire pit at the right side by the door which is built by stones, surrounded by boards and is called the upper fire pit. Wooden platforms about 70 centimeters wide are put up on the two sides of the fire pit, which are for receiving guests. A 70 centimeter-high-platform is built at the foot of the wall opposite the door, and the platform is covered with boards.

Another fire pit is built in the middle of the big platform with tripod over it. This is commonly called the latter fire pit, and is for warming, boiling water and cooking. Bunks are arranged around the fire pit, which are living places for the whole families with the left side for men and the right side for women. Bones of ox and sheep are hung out of the Primis' house. It is said these are symbols of the family wealth and they also have the effect of exorcising and pressing down evil spirits.



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