Signet Residence: Kunming Natives’ Attachment on Living

Architecture as a branch of art, along with its own path of development, it reflects the changing of human history, and also becomes an important way to sniff human civilization information. Those architecture forms with local characteristics are key elements for us to study on historical culture, environmental changes, productivity level, economic development and other important information of certain regions. Thus different countries maintain their ancient buildings as a bridge to communicate with their ancestors, to study the architecture is also to learn from the past. Signet Residence as a traditional architectural form could be considered as a cultural heritage with Kunming characteristics.

Signet Residence was invented by Han and Yi people. And this form of building had been popular in Kunming ever since. According to the basic principle of this architecture, a Signet Residence Mansion should be with “3 two-storeyed houses ” “2 penthouses” and “1 porch of eight-Chi(Chinese traditional length-measuring, equals to 33 centimetres)” . The ichnographical version is nearly a square one, the 3 two-storeyed houses are higher while the 2 penthouses are lower, so the courtyard is formed. The eight-Chi-long porch is called the back seat, with the depth of eight Chi. And the name Signet Residence is given for the squared look of the courtyard.



Among three houses, the lower layer in the middle is often used as a reception room to receive guests, while hosts live in left and right lower layers. Penthouses are used for keeping livestock or as a kitchen. The higher layer in the middle is for ancestor worshiping or Buddha Chanting. Other rooms are used as guest rooms and storage rooms.

Nowadays, it is not common to see the Signet Residence in Kunming, but still one can find one or two places, which keep the “mark” of Kunming in Kunming Laojie (Kunming Street).