Wattle and Daub Houses

Native American Indians
Wattle and Daub House surrounded by a palisade (fence)

Wattle and Daub Houses

The Wattle and Daub House was a typical structure used as a shelter or house style that was built  by many tribes of the Southeastern cultural group who made them their homes.

As can be seen in the picture a single wattle and daub house, and large villages, were surrounded by a palisade for defense purposes.

Learn about the structure and the interior of  the Wattle and Daub Houses with pictures and images together with facts and information about the tribes who used them, including the Cherokee and the Creeks.

What is Wattle and Daub made out of? Definition of Wattle
What does the word Wattle mean? Definition: The word 'Wattle' refers to a method of construction called 'wattling' by which vertical wooden stakes, or wattles, are interlaced or weaved with branches, twigs, stalks, vines, cane or bark strips to forming the a lattice framework of the wall of a house.

What is Wattle and Daub made out of? Definition of Daub
What does the word Daub mean? Definition: The word 'Daub' related to the substance made from a combination of materials such as wet soil (mud), clay, sand, lime, chalk dust, animal dung, plant fibers and dried grass which was used to coat the framework of a wall when building a shelter or basic style of house. Substances such as clay was a binder that held the daub together, materials such as sand and earth gave the mixture bulk and stability, the addition of a material such as dried grass or plant fibers helped to hold the daub mixture together and and provided flexibility.

What is a Wattle and Daub House? Definition
What is a Wattle and Daub House? Definition: A Wattle and Daub House was a type of construction using a pole or stake framework intertwined with branches, vines and twigs (wattle) and covered with mud (daub). The roof was either covered with  cane mats, thatched with grass or shingled with bark. The word 'Daub' derives from the Old French 'dauber' meaning to "to whitewash, plaster". Wattle and Daub houses were a common type of construction in 16th century Europe and the colonists and settlers gave the same name to this similar type of Native American Indian house.

Who lived in a Wattle and Daub House?
The Wattle and Daub House was commonly used as a shelter and home by some of the Native Indian Tribes who inhabited the grass covered prairies of the Southeast. The names of the tribes who lived in the Wattle and Daub style houses included the Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee people. The tribes lived in the regions of the present-day states of Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Alabama and wanted permanent homes to suit their farmer-hunter life styles. The Wattle and Daub Cherokee lodge was called an 'asi'.

Wattle and Daub Villages
Some tribes, such as the Cherokee built sturdy palisades (fences) around their villages providing protection for the people of the village from attacks by hostile enemies. The villages consisted of between consisting of 30 - 80 wattle and daub houses together with a large meeting house. As many as eight people might share this type of house. Villages were almost always located beside some type of water source such as a spring, creek, or river. Their houses were built close together and usually grouped around a central square or plaza where important ceremonies, rituals and dances were performed. Every large village had a stickball (lacrosse) field. A Wattle and Daub was durable and would last between 10 to 15 years, when it would be replaced by new structures. Building and house took cooperation and forward planning in order to prepare the materials required for the construction.

How was a Wattle and Daub House built?
The following steps provide information on how to make a Wattle and Daub house. The size of a house ranged from 8-10 feet tall and 12 - 14 feet across. A typical dwelling would have about 5 people living in it. The process and method to build a typical Wattle and Daub house was as follows:

  • The building of the Wattle and Daub house was planned in advance and building materials were collected
  • The timbers for the the main poles were saplings (young trees), cut to the correct size and stripped of branches and bark
  • The poles were about 3-4 inches thick, straight, and about 6 foot in length
  • The posts were about set about 8-12 inches into the ground and about one foot apart
  • Long, flexible sticks, or 'wattle', was then weaved between the posts
  • A space for a small, low door (about 4 feet high) was left and door posts added. There were no windows
  • The Daub mixture was then prepared in roughly equal proportions. The materials for the daub were thrown into a small pit and people mixed them by stamping on them, adding small amounts of water until the correct consistency was made
  • The daub was then 'plastered' across the frame and left to dry
  • The roof structure was either thatched with grass, shingled with bark or covered with cane mats
  • A central fire pit was built into the floor area and a smoke hole was left in the roof to let in light and air and let out smoke

Wattle and Daub Houses

  • Interesting Facts and information about the Wattle and Daub Houses
  • Definition, pictures and description of the Wattle and Daub Houses
  • Built as a shelter and house style by tribes of the Southeast cultural group
  • Fast Facts, pictures and description of the Wattle and Daub Houses - Exterior and interior
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Native American Indians

Wattle and Daub House Interiors
The interior of the Native American Wattle and Daub Houses included a central fire pit and a large pot for cooking the family meals. Beds made of cane were located on the floor consisted of dried grasses that were covered with animal hides. The beds were used as seats during the daytime. Woven mats or deerskins were occasionally used as floor coverings. Possessions were stored in woven baskets. The fire constantly smouldered in the hearth, which made the windowless Wattle and Daub house smoky and dark.

Native American Houses
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