Well Tower Culture of the Dai Minority

A Short Buddhist Pagoda in Menghaiman

46 Sweet Underground Water

The Dai people love water. Their villages are generally constructed beside waters; they also build wells beside their villages to supply drinking water, water for washing and for splashing during the New Year. In general, the ground nearby a well is quite spacious, and wells often situate in front of the villages or beside the villages. Wells may have some distance to the villages for the sake of sanitation, and the Dai people also construct drainage trenches to keep the underground water clean. The Dai folks are quite fastidious about the design and decoration of their well terraces, protection fences and covers; and thus, they often construct quite peculiar well towers with local colors. Beside the gate of a well, they may provide a dragon statue to show the nobleness of the well; or decorate the well with elephants or peacock sculptures to express happiness and luckiness. The Dai people believe that the holy and clean water is endowed to them by the local god, Nan Tuo Na Ni; in order not to let the holy water dry up, based on their religious beliefs, they construct well towers of various forms to bailment their best wishes.