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The houses of the Naxi and Bai ethnic groups in northwestern Yunnan have kept the traditional style of Chinese architecture. They are made from wood or bricks, with white-washed walls, in the form of three houses, one main house, and two connecting houses, plus one screen wall. The houses are usually built with flying buttresses, carved beams and painted rafters, and in the courtyard, grass and trees are grown. They form a sort of living museum of traditional sculpture, painting and calligraphy. The most typical houses can be found in the ancient towns of Lijiang, Dali and Weishan.

Beside the Lugu Lake, known as the “mother lake”, are the wooden houses of the Mosuo people. The houses, with log walls and wooden roof tiles, come from the roots of the matriarchal society. The houses of the Yi ethnic group on Liangshan Mountain are built from mud, and the base of the wall is inlaid with stones. They nestle in perfect harmony with the surrounding mountains.

The Dai, Jingpo, Wa, De’ang, Jinuo and Lahu ethnic groups in the west and southwest of Yunnan make their houses from bamboo, timber and grass. They live upstairs, and keep their livestock under the houses. These bamboo buildings are well ventilated, to suit the tropical environment. They vary in style according to the ethnic group. The Dai houses are elegant, the Wa houses simple, while the houses of the Jinuo and Lahu people are large in order to accommodate big families which include several generations.

The houses of the Hani ethnic group in southern Yunnan are shaped like mushrooms, and are built from mud and have thatched roofs.

The houses of the Tibetan, Lisu and Buyi ethnic groups also have their own style. The dwelling houses of the ethnic groups in Yunnan are all extremely practical. They display the ethnic people’s wisdom, and t heir ability to adapt to their natural surroundings.