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The stilt house (Diaojiao House), a kind of folk residence built on the stilts of different heights, is usually built beside the river or in steep mountain areas. The stilt house is usually divided into two parts, the front part and the rear part. The front part is a storied building built on the ground and similar to the fence-style building, while the rear part is a bungalow. In front of the house is a corridor formed by wood balusters with a height of about 1 meter. Suspended windows were equipped in some houses for rest and enjoying cool. Sundries can be stored under the floor, and, by this, the space is utilized smartly. The space of the stilt house is arranged facilely in various shapes. The shortage of construction land is relatively relieved, for the stilt house makes use of the hillside or river, which is originally not suitable for building houses. Furthermore, it has the advantages of aeration, moisture-proof, viper defense, and wild animal defense.
The west area of Hunan Province of China is a mountainous area in which many ethnic groups live, including Han, Tujia, Miao, Hui, Yao, Dong, Zhuang, etc. In this area, the chain of mountains runs up and down, rivers densely distributed, and trees abundant. The unique geographic environment, together with the condition that many ethnic groups live here, has given birth to the Xiangxi (the west area of Hunan Province) stilt house which is unique, elegant, close to rivers and mountains, and abundant in trees.
The integration of cultures of various ethnic groups has endowed the Xiangxi stilt house with rich and diversified cultural connotations. For example, the stilt house of Tujia ethnic minority embodies the universal view of the coexistence of human and God. And the Dong people like to beautify the environment through such measures as carving the chapiters of the house into bamboo shape, and carving flower patterns on the banisters of the corridor. Moreover, the stilt houses of other ethnic minorities have their own distinctive features.