Architectural features of houses are frequently loaded with meanings expressing fundamental values embedded in social relations. The symbolism of such features is a convenient starting point for exploring the organisation of social life. Among the Na of Yunnan province house symbolism raises a range of questions relating to the character of gender relations and the universality of marriage. The qualitative cultural factors structuring gender interactions are analysed by drawing on perspectives from role analysis. Finally the quantitative behavioural consequences of these interactions are documented.