Woodhouse: Last Manchu village of Changbai forest
By Meng Haiying
People's Daily app


Woodhouse, a listed wooden Manchu village in Northeast China (Photo: Meng Haiying)

Baishan (People's Daily) - The village of Woodhouse in Fusong County, Jilin Province, is the only existing Manchu wooden house village in Northeast China. It lies southeast of the Changbai Mountains, 25 kilometers from the western slopes. In 2013, Woodhouse was listed on the Chinese Traditional Village List by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. 

Simple, quiet and elegant, the scenery is like an ink painting scroll. It embraces the sunlight and white snow, surrounded by mountains and dense forest, which forms a land of idyllic beauty, a retreat away from the world.


Smoke curls up from kitchen chimneys. File photo 


The path through the wooden houses leads to a deep mountain forest. (File photo) 


Village house (Photo: Meng Haiying)

Since the 1980s, Cao Baoming, chairman of the Folk Literature and Art Association of Jilin Province, and Wang Chunxin, professor of the Department of Fine Arts of Tonghua Normal University, have visited the village to investigate the forest culture of Changbai Mountains. They have also written monographs to record and interpret its cabin culture in detail and in depth.

In Woodhouse, almost everything - from construction materials to articles for daily use - is made of wood. Wood has been integrated into people’s lifestyles.

The log cabins are commonly called “Mukeleng” in Chinese. The villagers remove the treetop and roots, and leave thick trunks only. They then slice off two ends with axes to flatten them and then pile up the logs. Afterwards, they spread mud and withered grass on the tree seams. When the wind blows, the special adhesive drys and hardens, tightly holding the logs together.


Cabin wall (Photo: Meng Haiying)

Wooden chimneys are selected and processed in an exquisite and complicated way, making them so durable they last for decades.


Chimneys (Photo: Meng Haiying)

The houses are covered with shingles generally from pine trees which are durable. The shingles are made by chopping wood into small pieces. There are grooves on the shingles to facilitate drainage.


Chopping wood to make shingles (Photo: Meng Haiying)

As an intact ecological village, Woodhouse has strong ecological and cultural characteristics. The villagers also have a conscious awareness of ecology and culture.


Woodhouse villagers (Photo: Meng Haiying)