As you may know Shao Ping and I have recently been traveling through China, visiting friends in the main. We traveled to Xiamen, Fuzou, Shanghai and the surrounding areas. We were also able to visit the incredible Tulou [土樓] of Fujian Province. They are protected UNESCO heritage sites. The word tulou means earthen building or earth building.
The first three photographs in this post feature interior shots of a Fujian Tulou. They were built by the Hakka people as a defensive, fortified structure. My wife in Shao Ping is Hakka. The tulou are usually inhabited by a related clan group. The families live out their lives within the circular tulou. Some of these tulou are rectangular in shape, others are oval.
The photograph below shows an exterior shot of the same tulou as well as an adjacent building. Life reverberates in and around these interesting buildings. There are people washing clothes, having a smoke, playing with children and cooking lunch.
Pictured below is the Tianluokeng tulou cluster [田螺坑土楼群]. This remarkable grouping of buildings is located in Fujian province, Zhangzhou City, Nanjing County, Shuyang Township in southern China. This cluster consists of a square earth building at the center of a quincunx, surrounded by four round earth buildings. Actually one of the round buildings is oval. You can explore its location here. Unfortunately tourism has overwhelmed this particular cluster has been overwhelmed by the impact of tourism. There are many stalls selling souvenirs and other trinkets.
The photograph below gives an indication of the earthen characteristics of the structures. They are quite beautiful. If you ever visit the tulou of Fujian province see if you can visit one or more of the structures that are not on the main tourist beat. Luckily we were able to do so.
Pictured below is one of the oldest tulou in China. It is the Yuchanglou tulou [裕昌樓 ]. It was construted in 1308 during the Yuan dynasty by the Liu family clan. It is one of the oldest tulou in China. The outer ring of this tulou is 36 metres in diameter and it consists of five stories. There are 50 rooms on each floor.
As the Wikipedia entry for this tulou indicates, “each of the 25 kitchens on the ground floor at the back half of the circle has a private water well beside its stove. This is the only tulou in all Fujian with such convenient water supply”.
There is an interesting web site, based in Taiwan across the straits, that graphically sets out the tulou of Fujian province. The site is titled 福建省旅遊局 : 世界文化遺產_福建永定土樓、南靖土樓、華安土樓.