earthen home

Day 5 - Civilisation & Architecture

(Don’t worry [or possibly do worry?], i haven’t forgotten about the History prompt for day 4. I just figured since I’m already pretty far behind, I might as well get to the interesting ones before i tackle the ones that are likely going to be longer, drier, and more involved)


In the western deserts of Vuatlieo many live in cave homes not dissimilar to the yaodong of northern China - typically of the sunken-courtyard variety but sometimes dug into the sides of cliff faces, or other freestanding features. Communities of these dwellings have existed in this area for thousands of years, each remaining within a single family that they support. In areas where the water table is too high to support such ventures, homes and other buildings are built of bricks of cut stone or sun-dried mud, covered over with stucco. Sometimes one comes across complexes of earthen homes, storage spaces and workshops build into the undersides of hanging cliffs or shafts dug by humans, connected by ladders and gently sloping wooden platforms - the settlements of the Xwalhabmenet and the Hwalzanmenet, two great peoples of the West prior to its assimilation by Vuatlieo.

In the central areas of Vuatleio, they favor housing made from stone or mud bricks stuccoed and painted in angular geometric designs of purple and green, of red and gold, rich and vibrant colors. Rooms are boxy rectangular prisms grafted onto each other in a  somewhat haphazard way, where two connecting rooms might have very different dimensions including ceiling height based on what the builder intended the rooms to be used for. Most houses like this are built on a single level, with multi-story houses being atypical. When they exist, attempts to correct for the uneven quality of the floor - the previous level’s ceiling - are essentially unheard of, leading to disconcertingly angular lumps in the surface people walk on. The central Vuatlieone folk don’t seem to mind it, though. Almost no home in this style has internal stairs, with access to the roof or to potential other stories being provided by ladders or stairs on the outside formed by successive wooden stakes being hammered into the wall, or by natural slopes of hills or other geological formations that the building may be built into. Roofs may be the same stuff as the walls, supported by internal braces of wooden beams, or may be formed of woven corn leaves and stalks, or of baked or fired clay tiles in imitation of the East. Garden areas or courtyards might be sectioned off through extensions of the walls, enclosing some area beyond the normal confines.

The East and the Northern islands are pretty similar in architectural styles, so they’ll be described together, here. They are characterized by white or off-white buildings of clay or stone or, for certain monumental buildings, marble, built tall and supported by pillars and arches. While rectangular floorplans are favored as in the Central and Western regions, circular or oval shapes are also common and are held to be especially noble. Second or third floors may project beyond the boundaries of the first, and be supported by columns of pillars which signify a semi-private boundary while still maintaining visibility in a way that walls cannot. Stairs can be within or without a building, and as aforementioned, roofs are typically made of red tiles of fired clay, but may sometimes instead be domes of glass or beaten metal. The East being where the Emperor of Vuatlieo resides, and where the Royal Palace and City are, the Eastern style is associated with class and artistic refinement, and thus families or organizations in other regions who have high status, or wish to appear to, may have their buildings constructed in this style.

The towers of Vuatlieone wizards are famous, visible against pretty much any Vuatlieone horizon, majestic and eccentric, drawing from multiple traditions within and without the country, often from styles that only exist within the wizard’s mind. They may see multiple resident wizards over the course of their lifetime (though rarely more than one at any given time), each with their own preferences for how a building should look, and thus accrue a layered shell of balconies, windows, walls of stone or wood or metal. Their main unifying traits are their considerable height - wizards are a secretive sort, who see use in ensuring that their only visitors are those desperate enough to climb several flights of stairs or magically gifted enough to levitate to the top - and the considerable cellars at their base, stocked with the restorative wines and spirits for which Vuatlieo is so well known.

The Vuatlieone chthonic tombs are labyrinthine constructions, some of the very oldest not only in Vuatlieo but in all the known world. Their aboveground portion can be deceptively simple, an earthwork mound in the shape of a  hemisphere or a long wedge or a pyramid, shored up where needed with marble or granite and marked with a devotional stele proclaiming the family or individual the tomb is associated with. An opening will lead to a staircase or downward-angled corridor which invites deeper into the tomb, and into the earth, where the complex truly begins. The dead, in the Vuatlieone folk tradition, are displayed sitting in niches along the walls, or on thrones or benches, or lying in repose on slabs; regardless of the specifics, they are open to the elements and not hidden away from the eye as they decay into skeletons, draped with funerary goods of beaded necklaces, torcs and bangles, and sometimes dressed in a curious sort of armor of beaten copper, or silver, or gold, which would have done little to protect the deceased in life but rather is meant to beautify the corpse, with breastplates that draw one’s eye to the heart, or helmets with elaborate flared headdresses that put one in mind of a peacock’s train. The hallways and open rooms of the tombs are supported by fluted columns. Statues or murals may be present to commemorate the individuals interred or specific evens in their lives, or to act as a focus for prayers to ancestral spirits residing within the tomb or underground more generally. While excavating space for their dead, the Vuatlieone sometimes broke into natural caverns or underground tunnels. While sometimes these were assimilated, in whole or in part, into the structure of the tomb, at other times the architects were content to leave the natural beauty of these spaces be, and would leave them as a vista for the dead and their visitors to view, or even wall them off (though over time not all of these walls have remained).

Along the eastern borders, at the shores of the great lakes, the particularly destitute, humble or pious may live in the massive shells of deceased snails which have washed ashore; these are cramped and, in terms of weight, relatively light, such that particularly strong winds may blow them over or even carry them some distance (including into the water, where the resident will likely drown). It’s this lightness of shell that is an asset for the structure’s other use, that of the carriage for carts drawn by aavexhãonon, the large birds that act as steeds and beasts of burden in certain southern and southeastern areas of Vuatlieo, and who lack the strength to pull heavier wooden carts for a useful distance.


The buildings in Hambry are overwhelmingly constructed of wood, with sparing use of iron or ceramics or stone for nails, hinges, tile floors, etc. Accordingly, fires are a very serious problem which can cause tremendous loss of life and property damage. However, in most of Hambry, stone is too scarce, difficult to access, or poor quality to be a realistic building material for most people. Use of stone is reserved for the rich, the priesthood, and communal warehouses, these last being built entirely of stone in the hopes that they withstand fires that lesser buildings do not. Somewhat ironically, the main place where stone is an economical building material for most people is one of the poorest places in the empire: the Nivan highlands, up on the slopes of the mountains and the hidden valleys where they make a rough living herding yaks and cattle for their meat and for dairy products that make their way through all the Nivan astral-trail system to be deeply embedded in southern continental cuisine.

In the Nivan lowlands, the thin and scraggly grasslands and black sand beaches that lead down to the steel-grey ocean, many live in villages made from clusters of an enormous root vegetable, woody and bitter, which are hollowed out and then covered with woven roofs supported by short wooden stakes. These are typically one-room, with a hollow in the center of the room for a metal bowl (and insulating cloth between the bowl and the substance of the root) to built a fire for cooking, light, heat, etc. Other housing solutions unique to the region include the discarded shells of snails that the famous great crabs of the Kymnutari Ocean feed on, much like the ones in eastern Vuatlieo, but formed into a large cone, rather than a simple round shape. These are somewhat heavier than Vuatlieone shells, but further held down with magical stones, incised with runes by a wizard, and possibly also restrained by nets nailed into the ground with great pegs.

The kansiuq of the south have mastered the art of defensive architecture; covering their island beaches with rough-cut spiked logs, giving their fortress walls a beard of the same, placing tall towers at the corners of their towns from which enemies can be seen for miles around. The wood used is typically pine or cedar, and not always particularly well finished - visitors or soldiers stationed at kansiuq settlements often come away complaining of splinters. To some degree this is alleviated by wall hangings of furs and skins (the product of the kansiuq diet, in which meat features prominently) which may be painted, an artistic medium of the kansiuq which may convey stories about the Hambric state religion, famous kansiuq and foreigners of history, or naturalistic scenes.

In the Zrii isles, city-fortresses are built in shells of iron and Zrii metal, in the shape of truncated pyramids with pentagonal bases, off of which many semi-open promenades and boardwalks may project into the warm northern waters or along beaches. These can be tightly shut in the summer and fall months in which tropical storms are common. Inside, iron and Zrii metal are still prominent building materials, but also the jungle hardwoods, and soft carved stone. Light is provided by narrow windows in the city-fortress shells, but also by gas fires. Gardens in cup-shaped structures outside the cities were once exercises in patience and continual rebuilding, annually ravaged as they were by weather, but now trade with Vuatlieo for resilient glass in large panes that the Zrii islanders don’t have the technological expertise or facilities to create themselves is much easier (if not much less expensive), meaning that many of these gardens are now greenhouses of sorts.


Szaomngba is a land of nomadic horse-riders, and so much of their architecture is based around the tent or somewhat more permanent (though still ultimately temporary) ger. The truly permanent settlements that they have make use of the volcanic stone basalt which is plentiful in that place, as well as tuff and the wood of the black walnut tree; roofs of stone, copper or bronze are common, as are domed roofs, which may be ornamented with weathercocks, spires, cupolas, or devices meant to strain the volcanic ash of Red Mountain out of the air and collect it in reservoirs for the residents’ use. These devices may also stand free in the countryside, their ash collected by travellers. Szaomngba mortuary architecture is superficially similar to Vuatlieone practices but differs in a number of crucial ways. The mound aboveground is typically meant to enclose the entirety of the tomb; though in practice most specimens have at least one chamber sunk a significant ways into the earth below. The mound is formed of a frame of wooden beams surrounding a (series of) room(s) built of wooden planks, surrounded by heaped stones packed with earth. 

#home #inspiration. 🌸 finally receiving my own pennies + am already envisioning a cosy #earthen #nest to build! probably a lil #cob dwelling in the midst of a green alive #forest… a magical home-base to always come back to in between travellings and to set #roots at some point! for now, i have the #vision. it’s how it all starts… manifesting it into being, all in divine timing! 🍃🌿🐾🍄🌻and i have a feeling that a beautiful tribe will gather there… om!

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don’t wish upon the stars, so uncaring and far away. tell them not of your dreams and desires, for their home in the cold, dark vacuum is no place for these slivers of your heart. wish upon the sand and the waves, the trees and the glades, the sky and the hay; such things are earthen and close to home. they will understand.