Living in Caves in China



We often assume living in caves is from ancient days; however in north China there are hundreds of thousands living in caves yet today. Caves are warm in the winter and cool in the summer and are normally lined to keep out the moisture. Most are in Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces of northern China. Countryside caves as in the photo are usually dug out of a hill side. This one is south of Datong and inhabited by an elderly man who enjoys having visitors come to visit him. There are whole communities of cave villages that can be seen by train from Xian to Luoyang. Most however do not enjoy having curious tourists visit them in the countryside. On the outskirts of Xian you can visit some of these cave dwellers but it is becoming more of a touristy situation rather than a cultural visit. In Luoyang they have what they call an Urban Cave shown in the other photo. Above the cave is “ground level” and a large square hole is dug and caves are made off to the side for sleeping, eating, cooking etc. This cave was for a large family with several children who now live above the ground in mud brick homes. Their mother still lives in the caves as she has for the past 70 years. Her husband died several years ago and I go back to visit her at intervals. She celebrated her 92nd birthday this past year and is very hearty. I had visited her 10 years earlier and before I left told her I would be back in another 10 years and told her to take good care of herself…..she quipped back that she hoped I would still be alive!!! Another part of China Culture.  Click on photos for full screen.