Ancient Chinese houses – Early China

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Chinese mudbrick house out in the country with a tile roof

Outside a typical Chinese house

There were really two kinds of houses in ancient China. There were poor people’s houses (which is most of them). And there were rich people’s houses (there were not very many of these).

A house in China built of mud-brick with a tile roof

A typical Chinese house

Poor people’s houses were small and made out of cheap materials. They generally had just one room, made of rammed earth (like mudbrick). The roof was usually made of thatch. These houses were a lot like poor people’s houses in West Asia or Egypt or Greece, India, or Africa.

Rich people’s houses were much bigger. They had a high wall made of rammed earth all the way around them, with no windows and just one door, to keep the family safe. As soon as you went through this door, you would see another short wall in front of you. This was the screen wall, which kept people from seeing into your courtyard as they walked by, for privacy. All around the courtyard there were rooms. In a very fancy house there were two storeys, and there was a balcony on the inside of the upper storey overlooking the courtyard.

Inside the Chinese house
More Chinese Architecture

Bibliography and further reading about ancient Chinese architecture:

Chinese food
More about Chinese families
Chinese schools
Ancient China Home

By | 2018-04-18T09:54:12+00:00 June 4th, 2017|Architecture, China|2 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Ancient Chinese houses – Early China. Study Guides, June 4, 2017. Web. April 23, 2018.

About the Author:

Karen Carr
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. Dan April 20, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    not helpful needs more informaton

    • Karen Carr
      Karen Carr April 20, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      What information were you looking for? I’d be happy to answer your questions, Dan.

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