Dig the Ground to Make a Stove
Mulao people who have blood ties live in one village and only in some bigger stockaded villages and towns, the residents with other surnames or of other nationalities can be seen.
The houses of Mulao people are generally single-storey with tile roof and brick wall .The structure of cogongrass, bamboo and timber is very scarce. In some well-off stockaded villages, there are a few brick and tile storied buildings. The traditional architectural form is: the principal room is divided into the front and forward halls as well as the two rooms on the left and right sides. Digging the ground to make a stove features a big characteristic of the local-style houses. At Siba, Dongmen, Huangjin where Mulao people live in concentrated communities, it is abound with coals. To fully utilize the coals, Mulao people dig a hole in the ground to be a stove at the kitchen or hall, commonly called “Ground Stove.” It is extremely convenient and scientific household equipment for people to get warm, heat up water and make the cooking. It is simple to make a ground stove, which is generally built on either side of the hall door. Dig a large hole, build the stove bottom with brisk, then put on the grate. After that, build the stove chamber, with a depth of 0.33 meter and a diameter of 0.165 meter. Then put a water jar by the stove to conserve water, the jar mouth lying on the same level of the stove opening. Before the stove, dig a coal ash hole, which is covered with a movable board.
Each household of Mulao people has this kinds of ground stove, which is used extensively throughout the year. People only need to fill in the coal respectively in the morning and evening every day, and they will have fire to use at any time in a day. The heat energy spread to the ground through earth, and the water in the jar can keep certain temperature. So there is hot water available throughout the year. The stove fire conducts heat to the ground constantly, increasing the indoor temperature, so people feel quite warm even in the cold winter; when the spring comes, the stove fire can keep the room dry, and effectively prevent the food from going bad; in summer, it can dry the grain drenched by the rainwater; in autumn, people can bake the food such as sweet potato and radish on the stove surface.
There is a history of several hundred years for Mulao people to use the ground stove. In a book of Tian Rucheng in Jiajing reign of the Ming Dynasty, there is a record of Mulao people to “dig the ground to make a stove and burn white charcoal.” The white charcoal called at that time is just the anthracite talked about today. It fully demonstrates the intelligence and wisdom of Mulao ancestors to utilize natural conditions.