The little kingdoms inside earthen castles in China: Fujian Tulou

If you are in Fujian, you shouldn’t miss the change to visit Fujian Tulou, an undeniably one of a kind structure of dwelling in Fujian.
The little kingdoms inside earthen castles in China – Fujian Tulou
Fujian Tulou contains many bulky and strong earth buildings, which actually are houses made of clay of Hakka people and other majors in the mountainous area in Southeast Fujian, China.
“Tulou” is a Hakka structure, built by Hakka people and was expected to be a fortress, with the main purpose is to protect their family from the armed robbers in Southern China during XII century and XIX century. For that reason, “Tulou” only has one entrance, and there isn’t any window in the ground – floor. Since the entrance is the most essential part, it’s usually reinforced by stone and iron.
The walls were built by using already available materials like earth squashed with stone, bamboo, wood….and it can be formed up to 2 meters thick. Windows are made of sturdy pieces of wood, which are usually 5 to 6 centimeters thick, the exterior is also strengthened with iron plates.
A large “tulou” is normally 3 to 5 floors tall, in each “tolou” there are many rooms containing food, weapons, living room, altar…Beside the top floor of the building has small corners for surveying and also gun holes for self – protective purpose.
These earth buildings are as strong as imprescriptible fortresses. This had been proved in 1934, in a rising, a group of farmers took over a “tulou” to fight against their enemy. Nineteen bangers were shot straight into the building; however, tulou almost can’t be damage as those bangers could only cause small holes.
It’s really impressive that a “tulou” can contain 800 people belonged to 80 families. The center of the building is a large yard without roof, where has well for people to do daily activities and also organize family’s events such as funerals, weddings…… In some occasions, people will cook and bring their dishes to a big round table in the middle of the building, everybody will gather in order to chat and have a warm meal together.
There is mostly no social class discrimination or poor – rich segregation among the families in tulou since all apartments are the same, and things like trees, wells,…are collectivities.
Each “tulou” is considered as a village or a “little kingdom”. In contrast to the simple exterior structures, inside each “tulou”, the decoration is usually sophisticated, which made the building warm in winter and cool in summer. All rooms are well – ventilated to receive sufficient light, and can be earthquake – proof.
Nowadays, there are more 20.000 tulou spread across the mountainous area of Southeast Fujian, especially 10 of them are over 600 years old, which are regarded as the “living fossil” of Chinese ancient architecture.
A group of 46 “tulou” in Fujian was honorable acknowledged as World’s heritage in July, 2008.