Posts Tagged ‘Cave Dwellings’
When you visit Yan’an, a revolutionary holy place in China and a cradle of Chinese civilization, you are still able to find a great number of caves houses, popularly called “Yaodong” in Chinese. The city proper of Yan’an is located about 400km north of Xian. But Yan’an has a large administration area inclding one district and 12 counties. Hukou Waterfalls and Huangdi Mausoleum are also under the administration of Yan’an.
These loess cave dwellings are one of the four traditional Chinese dwellings including Tulou ( earth houses, common in Fujian Province), Yaodong ( Cave Abodes, on the loess in the Northwest China), Ganlan ( a wood or bamboo storied house common in Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi) and Yikeyin (Seal-like Compound in popular Yunnan Province).
Yaodong, or cave residences are mainly divided into three categories – earth cave houses, brick cave houses and stone cave houses. Some of them are carved into hillsides and others are just dugouts.
Generally one standard cave house is 7-8m deep, 3m high and 3m wide. Some cave houses are dug as deep as 20m. One family usually have 3 or 5 caves houses which form a courtyard. Most of the cave house courtyards are built at the foot of a hill facing the sun. Above the cave dwellings are ofen planted with trees and flowers.
Yaodongs have the advantage of being cool in summer and warm in winter; both fire-proof and sound-proof; economic both in land and labour. Yaodongs are most popular in northen Shaanxi Province (Shaanbei) including Yan’an.
Most of the cave dwellings hosts are very kind and friendly to visitors. You may stop for a chat and picture taking when you pass by a cave residential courtyard.
An earth cave house courtyard
A stone cave dwelling courtyard with a dog gate keeper
Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong) moved here and stayed in the cave house at Date Garden in Yan’an from Oct, 1943 to Dec, 1945.
Today, cave dwellings are still available in the city center of Yan’an.
Any questions about the cave houses in Yan’an, please drop a line.
If time permits on your Xian trip, you may arrange a short side trip to Yaodongs, the cave dwellings still common in the middle and northwest of China. “Yaodong” literally means “Earth Caves”, one of the four types of the most distinctive Chinese trational dwellings including Tulou ( earth houses, common in Fujian Province), Yaodong ( Cave Abodes, on the loess in the Northwest China), Ganlan ( a wood or bamboo storied house common in Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi) and Yikeyin (Seal-like Compound in popular Yunnan Province).
Today let’s go closer to Yaodongs, the earth shelters common in the Loess Plateau in Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai. Yaodongs are generally carved out of a hillside, a vertical side of a loess hill. The cross section of a yaodong is built with two parts - a rectangle in the lower part and a semi-circle in the upper part.Yadongs are warm in winter and cool in summer.
Some of the yaodongs are visitable on your to or back from your must see highlight in Xian – Terra-cotta Army. If you are going to visit the earth houses, you are requested to drive along the old highway from the downtown Xian to Terra-Cotta Army or on your way back. The village that still use yaodongs are located along the highway by the side of some loess hills.
We stopped our car at the village, branched off the highway and walked into the village along the road by the shabby shop.
Now we were inside the village with mud roads in the village center. But the fork roads leading to each house are cement roads and Most of the houses are made of bricks.
On the way to the yaodongs, we met a lively village girl dressed in traditional clothing.
We first went to Mr. Gao’s family. His family has a big brick house linked to the yaodongs carved from a vertical hill.
Grandma Li said she still liked to stay inside a cave house since it was cool in summer and warm in wiinter.
She and her husband also used the caves to raise chickens and other domestic animals.
Later we also visited Mr. Zhang’s yaodongs behind his brick house below a hill.
His yaodong had a facade built with bricks with simple patterns carved on the surface.
Two cave houses on the hill cliff.