Franz K. Huber, Caroline S. Weckerle, Elisabeth Hsu
March 14, 2017
The Shuhi of Muli County, Sichuan province, inhabit the Tibetan-Chinese borderlands. In this paper, we focus on Shuhi kinship practices that accord the house the importance it appears to have for the Shuhi themselves. We demonstrate that the Shuhi engage in kinship practices that are ‘hearth-oriented’ (Hsu 1998b: 67–99) in a dynamic process affected by the current political economic changes in reformist China and religious revivalism in Tibet. The ‘hearth-oriented’ kinship practices we discuss include issues of who among the offspring continues to live in the house of their parents, how places of worship in a house are oriented in relation to the physical environment and the divine landscape, and how practices regarding the naming of houses are changing from deictics of place to lineage and family names. Based on empirical data, gathered between 1996–2011, we show that there are significant differences in all practices, which reflect a Tibetan-Chinese gradient along the north-south axis of Shuhi settlements. But there are also striking continuities.