House and home in the world outlook of different cultures

I am going to look at the Slavonic, Chinese and Madagascarian traditions concerning home. Slavonic because Belarus is a

House and home in the world outlook of different cultures



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The person who lays the foundation should be a young and strong man, but not too young as he will be unable to resist the power of the Earth which can take his life energy from him. The most important condition is that this person`s father must be alive, as on Madagascar there is a very strong cult of reverence of the father. People whose fathers live long are considered to have a very good destiny and any undertaking of theirs is said to be blessed.

4. A typical house, its orientation and structure.


A Slavonic village is oriented according to the Milky Way: the main street corresponds to it and lies in the direction from East to West. The houses are placed perpendicularly to the road, with their blind walls towards the North and windows towards the South. There are usually two windows looking at the road and two or three windows looking at the yard. The former two serve as the channels connecting people living in the house with the Sun (because these windows are the closest ones to the red corner), and the latter ones are said to connect people with the Moon. The number of the windows looking at the yard is three because they symbolize a traditional Slavonic family which consists of three generations of people.

A typical house is one-storey. The inner space of the house is divided into three parts, each of which has its own predestination and determines the life of the lodgers and the behaviour of the guests. The borders between the three zones are indicated by two tie-beams holding the ceiling. The space from the first to the second beam is for the people entering the house; here guests are received. The space from the second to the third beam belongs to the lodgers; here they work, eat, sleep. The third zone with the red corner is sacred. Here icons and other ritual objects are kept and the family prays the God. This is the horizontal structure of the house according to its length.

There is also the division of the house according to its width. The house is diagonally divided into the left and the right halves with the border passing from the hearth to the red corner. In the Slavonic world outlook the left side is considered to be the female side; here the hearth is situated. The right side is called the male side; this is the place for men.

Vertically the house has three levels; it is considered to be a microlevel model of the Universe. The upper level is for the gods; the lowest level for the late ancestors; the middle for the family. The garret is the place where spirits live, that is why there is a special window there for them to move in and out. The middle part of the house is for people to live in. The lowest part, including the threshold, the cellar and the place under the stove is the place for the dead ancestors, that is why the umbilical cord of a new-born child should be buried there (that of a girl near the threshold, that of a boy near the red corner).

A typical Chinese house is two-storey. The first floor is for the host and his wife; children live upstairs. The best form for the house is rectangular (gives success and constancy to the family) and square (gives stability). A house with more than four angles, especially if it is unsymmetrical, accumulates negative energy; a house in the form of a circle lacks stability and endangers the strength of the family. The best form for the area around the house is a regular one: a circle, a square or a rectangle. Unsymmetrical and angular forms are unfavourable as negative energy accumulates in such places. The way to correct such a situation is to hide the corners behind the fence. If the main entrance faces a sharp angle it is best to use another door or to build a porch. The best position for the house on the area around it is in the centre.

The direction in which the door or a window looks may be different. The family is free to choose any direction they prefer depending on what objects they pursue:

- the North if they want to live a very quiet and peaceful life;

- the South if they like an active way of life and often invite guests;

- the East is good for young people, especially creative ones;

- the West is the best direction for the families with children; it helps children grow happy and creative;

- the NorthWest is good for men they will be highly respected in the family;

- the SouthWest is good for women it makes the marriage stronger and strengthens the role of the mother in the family;

- the North-East helps good education;

- the South-East helps enrichment. [3; 38]

Thus we can see that there is not a single forbidden direction for the door to look in. Neither there is any for the windows: they may also look in any direction according to the rules stated above.

A typical Madagascarin house is two-storey and made of bricks. The roof is made of reed or flat tile. The walls are covered with red clay. The floor is earthen and covered with mats. On each floor there are two rooms: one larger and one smaller. One of the larger rooms is used as both the bedroom and the sitting-room. In the other room corn is stored.

The house is oriented according to the parts of the world. It should be directed from North to South. If it is directed from West to East, then the Nature will make the family leave the house sooner or later. All the doors and windows must look westward. If they look southward, the host is believed to become a wizard; if eastward, he will lose his wife; if northward, the house will inevitably be struck by a lightening.

The inner space of the house is also divided in accordance with the parts of the world. The southern part of the house is for the host; here he sleeps as it is believed to be the best past of the house. In the south-eastern part the basket with talismans is placed. In the eastern part the jar with drinking water is placed. In the western corner poultry is kept. The southern part of the house is the part of the material wealth; rice is kept there. The hearth is placed in the centre of the house or closer to the southern wall. Guests are received in the south-eastern part of the house.

5. The main zones of the house.


5.1. The zone of entrance.


The door is the place of entrance and exit. On the one hand, it symbolizes a border between the house and the yard, on the other hand, it ensures protection and access. The open door connects people with the world, the closed door protects the family from the outside invasion. Slavonic tradition pays great attention to this zone.

The closed position of the door is considered right. The door can be left open only if some extraordinary event has happened to the family if one of the members has died or has been born. In these cases the door is left open to give the way to the soul of the dying or a newborn person. During the funeral procession the door should be kept open until the body is carried out of the house. Then the door should be closed or even locked for the soul not to return. Those who come to take leave of the dead must leave through the same door they entered the house. In the wedding ceremony the door the door also plays an important role. The mother-in-law should close the door with her back after letting in the new-married couple so that the daughter-in-law will never leave the family.

There is also a rule for everyday life: litter should be from the remote wall to the door, i.e. from your space to the space of strangers. Only at the funeral it should be swept from the door to the centre of the house.

The door as a protector can be decorated with a horseshoe, a knife, needles and other objects usually used to protect oneself from negative energy. After a funeral, a wedding and a christening the door should be washed with holy water to wash away the energy of a large number of guests.

The threshold also belongs to the zone of entrance. It symbolizes the border between the world of living people (the house) and the world of the ancestors (under the house). There are definite rules of behaviour concerning this zone:

- people should avoid talking or giving something over the threshold so as not to worry the ancestors;

- unmarried people should not stand or sit on the threshold, otherwise they will not get married;

- pregnant women should not sit on the threshold for the delivery not to be difficult;

- after the christening the baby is put on the threshold to be accepted to the family by the ancestors;

- the bridegroom carries the bride over the threshold so that the ancestors do not object to the entrance of a new person into the family;

- before leaving home for some other place a person should take a seat on the threshold to get the protection of the ancestors in his trip;

- strange and unusual things that may appear near the threshold must not be touched, as they can have been brought by people who wish to do something bad to the family. [2; 519]

According to the Chinese tradition, the stream of positive energy Chi enters the house through the main door. Any obstacle in front of the door prevents it from entering, so the space here should be empty. If the obstacle cannot be removed away, the door should be painted the colour corresponding the part of the world it looks at. The colours are: black for the North, green for the East, red and orange for the South, white for the West. The space before the door should be brightly lit.

The space behind the door should be enclosed for Chi not to leave the house if the back door is directly opposite the main entrance. There should not be other doors, leading to the rooms, in the same wall as the main door or directly opposite to it. If there are, they must be kept closed.

If there is

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