The Houses of Monba People

Monba homes are two- or three-story, herringbone-shaped houses of wood with bamboo or straw roofs. The second and third floors are used for living quarters and the first for livestock. The middle storey is spacious, with the fireplace (other than the hearth) in the middle of the room, with a supported iron tripod which is used to cook rice and boil water. The room is furnished with a Tibetan-style clothes closet and a wooden case, which are used to store rice or clothing.

Pans, bowls and butter are put in a cupboard, bamboo furniture and production tools are put in the corners indoors, or hung from overhead beams. There are no beds in the room, and people sleep on the floor on Bainiu mats, covered with Tibetan carpet or quilt; they sleep with their clothes on. Among the Monba people in the east, there is a wooden stand at the right of the hearth and by the window when entering into the principal room. This is laid with cooking utensils or foodstuffs, such as a stone pan, an aluminum pan, bowls, bamboo scoop, packaged salt and fat, etc. This is the patriarch's seat, as he is responsible for cooking and distributing food. Brewing instruments are kept at the left of the hearth, where the housewife engages in her activities.

The upper corner of the wall is fully hung with horns and wolf's teeth that have been captured by hunters, and so on. The curved "Guodong" knives used by women for labor are put in a bamboo basket above the calabash and the "Guoda" hoes used by others for labor are put at the wall corner of the guest room or at the first small "Guopei" room upstairs. This small room is used for storing sundries and is where unmarried men or women live. It's also the where lovers meet lover. The waist knives and bows and arrows of hunters are hung on the wall at the left behind the principal room, or hung on the wood column of the principal room.

Women's treasures, such as silver girdle, necklace, headwear Bazhu, coarse silk cloth, Gawu, and gold and silver hand adornments and so on, are put in a three-layer case (the outside layer is a finely woven vine case, the next a bamboo-woven case, and inside is the small bamboo case for putting articles); the case is put beside the treasure jar. There is no large-sized furniture such as wooden cabinet in the principal room among Monba people, which looks simple and spacious. There are no beds, and people sleep on floor. Fireplace is by the wall, and people sleep around it. Parents usually sleep at the left of the fireplace, children sleep in the middle, and married women sleep at the right of the fireplace and under the window. Guests usually stay in a guest room.

In the winter, "Suideng" weaved with bamboos is laid on the floor. It has five or six layers and is warm. In the summer, "Bada" weaved with banana peel is laid on the floor. It also has five or six layers but is cool. Some people also lay bearskins and wild ox skins as winter mattress. When a Benzong (county head), Caoben (district head) or Lama is received, two "Suideng" or "Bada" shall be laid as cushion. Other household items include pillows made of fine cut vine threads bundled into rectangles, with cloth put on them. Old clothes are sewn into a long bag, used to carry things chicken claw and hunting tools. Some people fold multilayer banana peel into rectangles as pillow or use palm tree fibers as pillow. Some people use square pieces of wood as pillows. In the summer, people sleep in their clothes. In the winter, they cover themselves with a double layer quilt made of two layers of handloomed cloth, Monba in high and cold villages are cover themselves with Tibetan quilts or more than one Tibetan garmens. In the hot summer, people burn argyi leaf in their rooms to keep mosquitoes away.



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