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Nations & Customs
Heated Kang (a heatable brick bed in North China)
03/05/2011 14:19:56    Author : kathyby66@gmail.com    Browse : 3051

eated Kang (a heatable brick bed in North China)

Heated Kang is a kind of common heating equipment in the residence of northern China and the Manchu also introduced it into the imperial palace. The Shengjing Imperial Palace is mostly equipped with heated Kang even with several in one room which not only serves as the warm bed for sleeping and seating but also keeps the room warm by heat emanation.

The traditional residence of the Guandong Manchu in the past was always the "pocket" type house with its door facing east but not in the center. The room near the door was the kitchen, the eastern rooms were connected together by two or three and the heated Kang in South-North direction is as long as the room, which was commonly known as "connected two-Kang" or "connected three-Kang". Since the Kang was used for sleeping and sitting, it was more than five chi wide and was also known as the "North-South Kang" or "opposite Kang". The west Kang in the opposite was narrower and it was used for placing items. The open space between Kang was called "house floor". In fact, most of the indoor space was occupied by Kang, so people"s indoor living was mainly on the Kang. When a guest came, the host would invite him to sit down on the Kang, people there had meals, read or wrote on the Kang, and children also played on the Kang.

Wanzi Kang (South-North connecting Kang) is closely related to the civil customs in northeastern region. The large family in the past when several generations lived together, the elders always lived in the south Kang which is quite warm for facing toward the sun. Its warmest "Kang head" place (the side close to the stove connected with the Kang) was for the host with the highest seniority or the honored guest and the north Kang was for the sleeping and sitting of the juniors of the family or for drying food. West Kang was usually not for people to live. In the Manchu Nationality, West Kang was a special place because the center of the west wall was the place for worshipping the "memorial tablets" (spirit tablet), so only sacrificial utensils and sacrifices could be placed at the west Kang. Other sundries could not be placed here and the arbitrary trampling, sitting or sleeping was forbidden.

The main function of the heated Kang was to make the house warm. Since the Kang was heated by the cooking stove, once cooking food or water, the Kang would keep warm. For protecting from the cold winter, some people built the flue underground which was known as "heat floor" or "underground Kang". In the particularly cold winter, the room temperature can be increased by adding more fire in the stove. In the outside, it was cold and freezing while inside, it was as warm as the spring with the Kang and the floor emanating heat successively.

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