Chinese and Western peasants homes.

Jul 2017
Even in India, for well built peasant houses, the windows used to be made of wood. There would be two small square or rectangular wooden pieces that could be held together or opened depending on how the house ladies wanted it during different times of the day

The design with the centre empty and buildup all around it, as discussed in this thread as one of the prevalent designs in China, was very common in India as well. This type of design has something to do with 'vaastu' (feng shui)
Mar 2014
In Northern Europe windows for peasant houses were not that prominent. Window would let not only light but cold inside. All buildings had opening in the roof to let smoke out that let a bit of light in. One small window covered with animal bladder would let a little bit of light in.
Feb 2011
Homes in Northern China dealt with the cold by using the "kang", which is basically a type of indoor heater built into the home that doubles as a giant bed. Residents would do pretty much everything on the bed, to the point of putting a table on it.

Tang dynasty excavation of the "kang", excavated in Hebei:

You can see the smoke ducts leading to the chimney (烟囱) here at the bottom:

地面上分布有柱洞和柱顶石。南北长9.55米,宽6.5米以上(西部已被破坏),残存深0.45米, 门宽2 米(照1)。

Translation: There are post holes and stone column plinths distributed in the surface area. It has length 9.55 meters from North to South, width of over 6.5 meters (the Western section have been destroyed), the remains are 0.45 meters deep, and the door is 2 meters wide (Picture 1).

Source: 河北崇礼发现唐代火炕(组图)

The same source also shows an excavation of kangs dating to the Han dynasty, excavated in Dongheishan:

However, based on the small size of the buildings, and using the standards for judging other ancient buildings [San Martino and Poggio del'Amore and single room buildings of Greco-Roman cities] these buildings weren't probably meant to be permanent homes of peasants. I'm assuming it's for military personnel as this place was a military base from the Warring States period.

From 2007, January 17's "Chinese Cultural Relics News", pg 2 regarding the above Han dynasty kangs excavated in Dongheishan:

遗址以西汉中晚期—东汉早、中期遗存最为丰富, 计发现房屋基址16座、墓葬16座、灰坑341座、灰沟8条、道路3条、水井7眼和灶

The ruins are from mid-late Western Han to early Eastern Han. The ruins of the middle period are the most plentiful. Among them is the discovery of 16 building bases, 16 tombs, 341 pits, 8 ditches, 3 roads, 7 wells, and 2 stoves. The 16 building bases are divided into three types: ground constructions, shallow pit buildings with kang, and half pit housing.

地面建筑一座,破坏严重,屋内南北长12.2、东西宽6.1米,内部有踩踏痕迹,踩踏面下为黄白色垫土,门道位于房屋东部南侧,宽0.6米,房屋墙体残留底部的土坯痕迹, 土坯用黄褐土制成,一般长0.5、宽0.3米,时代为西汉中期。

There is one ground construction building, heavily damaged. Within the wall it is 12.2 meters North to South, and 6.1 meters wide East to West. There are footprints inside. The footprints are on yellow and white paddy soil. The door is located on the building’s Eastern side towards the South, with a width of .6 meters. The building’s bottom section of the wall have left traces of earthen bricks, the earthen bricks are made out of yellow and brown soil. They are usually .5 meters long, and .3 meters wide. It dates to the period of the mid-Western Han.

带火炕的浅地穴房屋11座,其中双室4座,单室7座。单室面积在10—12平方米,火长3—3.5、宽0.5—0.8米,有2或3条烟道,烟道宽0.2—0.3米,用黄褐土筑成, 地势由灶口一侧向烟囱一侧逐渐升高,顶部高出地面0.2—0.4米,有的烟道上面还残留有铺设的薄石板。根据炕体平面不同形状,可分A、B、C和D型。

There are 11 shallow pit buildings with kang bed-stoves. Among them there are 4 buildings with two rooms, and 7 buildings with 1 room. Those with 1 room have an area of 10 to 12 square meters. The kang have length 3-3.5 meters, and width .5-.8 meters [2.1 square meters area]. They have 2-3 smoke ducts. The smoke ducts have width .2-.3 meters, and are constructed out of yellow brown soil. The terrain gradually rises from the side of the stove to the side of the chimney. The area at the top is above the ground by .2 to .4 meters. Some of the smoke ducts still have residuals of thin stone slates. Given the different shapes of the kang bed stoves, they can be seperated into A, B, and C shapes.

It should be noted that the Kang is still used at present day in many rural homes in the North:

The Koreans used a much more advanced version called the "Ondol", which heats the entire floor of the house instead of just the bed. But because of this I'm not sure if people with ondols would be considered everyday peasants.
Last edited:

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
There were a few materials that were used for windows throughout Asia. They are all translucent so they let in plenty of light. They include: paper, horn, oiled parchment, sheets of alabaster, and stretched animal intestines.
Mar 2015
Excavations might not verify presence or absence of windows. These are in walls above ground, so if upper parts of walls are destroyed, the foundations might show no trace of windows. Since one opening is necessary - door to get in - the interior lighting might rely on door left open.

Also, I´ve heard of approaches of split doors - upper part of door can be left open separately, as a window. Is this known in China?