Form Follows Body: The Dong Carpenter’s Knowledge and the Application of Carpenter’s Rules, Rituals and Tools for Constructing the Dong Minority Houses in Rural
thesis research focuses on the working principles, tools and rituals that
adopted by the Dong carpenter for housing constructions in Dong minority
villages along the Pintan valley at rural southwest Hunan province, China. The
aim of this study, is to show how does the Dong carpenters use their body and
experiences as the basis of building practice, applying and sustaining their
working knowledge to adapt for industrial productions with the change of Dong
any participation of architects, the 3-storey timber Dong houses mostly being
of ‘Ganlan’ style, have been self-built by
local people under the leading of Dong ink masters for centuries. Due to the
absence of written language, the constructional methods adopted by Dong carpenters,
have been passed down in the format of spoken code and orally taught during the
working process. Traditionally, the Dong carpenter’s knowledge is exclusive.
The methods to design and construct Dong buildings inherited from the former
ink masters, only transmitted between the carpenters and his apprentices.
my research will be based on acquiring the knowledge from Dong carpenters,
comprehending the housing form in the context of Dong ethnic culture. Through
observing the self-building process, this research describes not only how does
Dong houses be formulated under the cultural impacts, but also explains the
building strategies from the perspective of Dong inhabitants. The knowledge of
Dong carpentry, which orally transmitted from the carpenter’s head to hand and
be performed through the body practice, connects to the Dong habitus and
culture. It shows an inherent relationship between the body and mind, which
defines both the way of constructions and form of Dong houses.