On Technology and Ritual of Chuandou House Construction in Southwest China:
The Case of Dong Minority Area

Congcong Ren a*, Ruchen Bian b and Simiao Li b

a Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
b Architecture Research and Design, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
* Corresponding author: ccrencc@ihns.ac.cn

ABSTRACT  This study is based on field work conducted in the mountainous countryside of Dong minority area, southwest China, where the custom of chuandou house construction has been preserved relatively completely. In this paper, we try to depict the whole construction process of traditional chuandou dwellings, from the very beginning of material preparation to the completion of one house, by explaining some details of the various steps of the construction process, including design principles, rituals, characteristic details on engineering, etc. During our research, we followed the work of a group of chief carpenters residing in the Dong minorities area. Ritual and technology are two arms helping them to maintain their professional authority towards other people involved in the construction process. Furthermore, we examine the relationship between ritual and technology, how the two can be combined, how they influence the appearance of houses and how one can master them and pass down their knowledge and know-how to future generations of carpenters.

KEYWORDS  chuandou, technology, ritual, chief carpenter


Received January 15, 2018; accepted February 6, 2017.