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inside tangwu.JPG

Living Room


These ethnic groups have distinctive furniture styles and traditions reflected in the furniture and fixtures in the living room or tangwu. The primary living and dining areas are found on the ground floor in this vernacular home. Typically composed of wood, the furniture in this home is sometimes embellished with beautiful carvings and painted design.

These traditional homes' interiors also serve as a window into the cultural practices of the various local ethnic groups. The Tibetan, Bai, Naxi, and Han are only a few of the ethnic groups in the area that have distinctive dwelling quarters that reflect their cultural traditions and ways of life. The living room, or tangwu, is one of the main living areas in these homes and serves as the family's main gathering place, as well as a variety of other functions like entertainment, socializing, and leisure.


The tangwu contains a large cabinet with several auspicious symbols carved into it. It is named chagam in Tibetan and occupies the entire rear wall. Most Tibetan households include a large cabinet of this kind in the main living area, some families have the cabinet as its own furniture piece and stand alone. Some have this cabinet custom-made into the wall, which becomes part of the wall. This cabinet was used to display cookware to demonstrate that the family is equipped to host many guests. Stacks of plates or big pots are displayed. Serving visitors on a regular basis is both expected and celebrated in the majority of Tibetan communities. In this way, the display cabinet functions as both a status symbol and a means of welcoming guests into the house. In most Tibetan homes, this type of center cabinet would typically have carvings and paintings of Buddhist symbols, such as the eight auspicious symbols.


 Instead, a large number of the paintings and carvings on this particular cabinet are distinctly Han and have secular expression, symbolism, and representations of the natural world. The reason is that the Bai people are highly assimilated into Han culture, and this cabinet was made by Bai carpenters from Jianchuan county, the subject matter of the carvings is a reflection of that. Furthermore, the cabinet looks like a miniature version of the house with three identical bays and the heads of an elephant and a dragon on the front.

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