Grandparents’ House


Story of Grandparents’ House

Grandparents' House

This is a traditional house made entirely of wood. Standing about 30 ft tall, it was assembled together with ingenious fitting among wooden pieces. No nail was used in erecting this impressive house. The entire structure utilized an ancient technique of mortise and tenon. It was a mastermind assembled this house with intricate lego pieces! The mortise and tenon technique was developed as early as the Neolithic period (5000 BC) in China. This technique to be superior comparing to the modern alternative of using nails:

Village2 filled to be partitioned Grey Boundary

1. Mortise and tenon joints are sturdier. Pieces don’t rotate or wiggle as the exact types of tenon joints were carefully selected.

2. Mortise and tenon joints are easier to replace (used to be true when these traditional carpenters were abundant). Wooden pieces in question can be removed by hand and replaced. But when jointed together with nails, nails can be rusty and difficult to extract.

3. Mortise and tenon joints also allows the pieces to be transported easily.

4. Mortise and tenon joints do not sacrifice the integrity of wood. Using nails can cause the wood to split.


An Example of Mortise and Tenon. Now imagine house building w/ just this!


Mortise and tenon joints

Grandpa used to get up early in the morning, walked up the hill and enjoyed the mist in the morning air. He retained great physical health until his recent old age. He’s always very benevolent, and fond of his children visiting him. Many occasions I found him sitting on a wicker chair and watching Beijing or Fujian opera aired on TV. Local operas used to be the standard entertainment, often played in the village hall located next door.


Grandparents lived in their traditional wooden house complex ever since. Their neighbor, who used to occupied the left wing of the house complex, abandoned their residence, leaving the entire house complex to grandparents. So I was given free rein to explore the house complex since childhood.

At the backyard there’s a quiet spot on the 2nd floor wooden porch, facing the direction of the mountain. Several times I found myself there, two legs hanging off the porch and swinging in chill air under the tile roof, looking into the hill direction, gazing at how this little village extending by no more than seven houses in that direction, yet considering myself at the center of the very same  village!


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