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Photographer's Note

A traditional Bhutanese home apart from being a residential dwelling for the family, provides - shelter for domestic livestock; a place for weaving and other household activities; a religious space for worship and other family activities.

A house usually has an open or semi-covered courtyard in front of the building. This space is utilized for growing vegetables and other agricultural produce; drying things; keeping the animals; manual pounding of cereal, etc. Normal indigenous houses of farmers are two or three stories high, with each level having distinctive functions. The floors in an indigenous house is laid out in a hierarchy, starting from the simple lower ground floor spaces, used for sheltering livestock, to the sacred upper level used for living and religious rituals.

Spaces are normally laid out in squares and rectangles in straight lines. Thick, rammed earth or stone masonry walls make the exterior of the structure. The inside walls are made of bamboo matting covered with plaster. The lower floors have narrow timber window and larger elaborately painted three lobed timber windows on the higher floors. The high wooden, shingle roofs is held in place with small stones and have large open breezy spaces under them. What is remarkable is that no nails are used in construction.

Timber is used lavishly for flooring, windows, doors, stairs, balconies, columns, beams, ceilings and other structural elements and for elaborate decorative cornices. A single log of wood with ledges cut on one side serves as a staircase.

The upper storeys boast remarkable woodwork with paintings seen frequently on the frames of the 3 lobed windows and on the ends of beams. Doors and windows are generally carved with traditional motifs Elaborately painted timber cornices are usually placed around the upper edges of the structure, just below the roof and above doors and windows. Windows and doors are also normally painted giving the houses a very festive appearance. Floral, animal and religious motifs are mainly used as themes for the colourful paintings.

The levels of a house are laid out in hierarchy starting form the ground floor and used for different functions:
The ground floor of the house is used for sheltering livestock and weaving of handlooms. The courtyard is an open space used that is utilized for various functions.
The living quarters and the kitchen are on the first floor as is the store and the family room. The altar will be on the top floor and usually has an altar with statues of the Buddha and the great gurus. This is the most important part of the house. Large open breezy spaces under the high shingled roofs, create the unique 'flying roof' characteristic, which is peculiar to indigenous Bhutanese houses.

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Additional Photos by Pinakie Kansabanik (pinakie_slg) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 213 W: 4 N: 126] (861)
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