A Visit To Fujian Earth
Photo taken at Fujian Tulou(Earth Buildings)
Four stories Tulou
My wife and I visited the well-known Fujian Earth Buildings (福建土楼) while attending my Nephew’s wedding party in Xiamen in October, 2014. The said Earth Buildings in Chinese called “ Tulou” (土楼), literally means “mud buildings”, is a type of Chinese Hakka rural dwelling in the mountainous areas of southeastern Fujian Province, China. They are various types of earthen structures made of soil, stone, bamboo, wood mostly built between 12th to 20th centuries. They also have wells and complex drainage systems. The outer walls are normally a meter thick with slits for pipe guns or other firearms. The entrance is bolted with heavy door. A Tulou can be four, five or six stories high; the ground level is for livestock and kitchen; grains and other food stuff are stored on the second level while the higher floors are for living rooms. A big Earth Building may take about 80 families with 600 inhabitants. With all the halls, storehouses, wells and bedrooms inside, the huge tower like building functions almost as a small fortified city. In fact, they were built to provide protection against bandits and wild animals.
There are around 23,000 Earth Buildings in Fujian Province. Of which about 360 are round shape and more than 4,000 rectangular shape in Yongding County(永定縣). We visited some rectangular and round Earth Buildings in cluster. Some of these buildings have been inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
"The Prince of Tulou---Zhenchenglo
We visited the following Earth Buildings or Tulou Cluster:
1.Zhenchenglou (振成樓):Nicknamed "The Prince of Tulou"(土楼王子), belongs to Hongkeng(洪坑) Tulou cluster. It is located in Hongkeng village, Hukeng township of Yongding County(永定縣). Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage 1113-002. It was built in 1912 by the descendents of a rich tobacco merchant.
Zhenchenglou is a double ring Tulou, its outer ring(外圈) is four stories high, total 184 rooms. The inner ring(内圈) is two stories with 32 rooms. The outer ring was partitioned into four segments according to “Eight Diagrams” ( Bagua concept,八卦) of Chinese Fengshui( 风水). Here we also can see the Western type of architecture such as some Greek columns at the ancestral hall, and the wrought iron railing at the second level corridor…. etc.
2.Chengqilou (承啟樓): Nicknamed "The King of Tulou"(土楼之王), of Gaobei Tulou Cluster (高北土樓群) at Gaobei Village (Gaotou Township) of Yongding County was built in 1709. Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site 1113-003 in 2008. It is a massive round Tulou with four concentric rings surrounding an ancestral hall at the center , the outer ring is 62.6 metres and four stories tall, 288 rooms, with 72 rooms on each level, circular corridor on 2nd to 4th floor, with four sets of staircases at cardinal points connecting ground to top floors.
The ground floor rooms are kitchens for family branches, the second level rooms are grain storage rooms, and the 3rd and 4th floor rooms are living quarters or bedrooms. The second ring of 80 rooms is 2 stories high, with 40 rooms on each level, the third ring served as community library, 1 storey with 32 rooms; there are 370 rooms in all. The 4th ring is a circular covered corridor surrounding the ancestral hall. If a person stayed for one night in each room, it would take him more than a year to go through all the rooms.
The ancestral hall is at the centre of Tulou. Chengqilou has two main gates and two side gates. At present, there are 57 families and 300 people staying there. We were told that at its heydays, there were more than 80 family and 600 people lived in Chengqilou.
3.Hingshinglou(庆成楼) is situated at Hongkeng Village(洪坑村), Longyan City(龙岩市).It was built in 1937. Longyan is my hometown, and this is my second visit to Longyan. My first visit was in 2001.
Geographically Longyan is situated at the west of Fujian China.Two hours driving from Xiamen and 80 km away from Yongding Earth Buildings Cluster.
Longyan is well-known as the “Home of Hakka People”( 客家祖地) ,because about 75% of its population is composed of Hakka people. Changting County(長汀県) is always referred to as the “Capital of Hakka People”(客家首府), while the Ting River(汀江) is known as the “Mother River of the Hakka People”( 客家母親河)
Hingshinglou is square in shape, 3 stories high. No window for the first and second story. A total of 4 staircases, 1 door gate, 1 well , and 1 ancestral hall.
Perhaps, the most attractive spot here is Yongding Hakka Folk Culture Village (永定客家土楼民俗博物馆).But, I only spent very short time there for taking pictures.
4. Jiqinglou(集庆楼): This is the largest round Earth Buildings and also the oldest in this cluster, built in 1419 during Ming Dynasty. It consists of two concentric rings, the outer ring building is four stories, with 53 rooms at each level. The outer ring has 72 staircases. The second ring is a 1 storey building.
5.Yunshuiyao Village(云水謡): I spent most of the time in this beautiful village . Both my wife and I enjoyed the peaceful life in the village. Along the banks of the brook are old banyan trees, ancient buildings and patches of farm land. A walk through the village will bring you back in time to the Chinese traditional rural life. This village has been a popular place for film making. The famous film “The Knot” (Yun Shui Yao) was shot here. The place was then changed its name to the present name of “Yunshuiyao”.
6.Huaiyuanlou(怀远楼): This four-storey round building was constructed in 1907. The foundation of the wall was rammed from large cobblestones from the river and a mixture of lime, clay and sand. The surface of wall remains clean and smooth in spite of the lapse of time. The ancestral hall of the building also serves as a private school. The beans, ridgepoles, doors, and windows in the entire ancestral hall are decorated with beautiful carvings and painting in the ancient style.
7.Heguilou(和貴楼): This is the largest rectangular earth buildings, measuring 3,000 square meters and 21.5 meters high. It is 5 stories high. It is also the tallest of the rectangular shaped earth buildings and most interesting of all, it was constructed on a swamp land and has been impregnable for more than 200 years.
Heguilou has been inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, as "exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization [in a] harmonious relationship with their environment".