Fujian Tulou

Fujian Tulou, or “Fujian earthen buildings,” are unique rural dwellings found in the mountainous regions of southeastern Fujian Province, China. They are particularly associated with the Hakka people and were mostly constructed between the 12th and 20th centuries. Here are some key characteristics and notable examples of Fujian Tulou:

  1. Architectural Features:
    • Fujian Tulou are typically large, enclosed, and fortified earth buildings, often rectangular or circular in shape.
    • The walls are made of thick load-bearing rammed earth, reinforced with materials like stone, bamboo, and wood.
    • These structures can be three to five stories high and can house up to 800 people.
    • Smaller buildings are often enclosed within the larger ones, creating a compound-like structure resembling a small fortified city.
  2. Construction:
    • The outer walls are formed by compacting earth with stone, bamboo, and wood, creating walls up to 6 feet thick.
    • Reinforcements like branches, wood strips, and bamboo chips are added to increase strength.
    • The design provides excellent ventilation, lighting, and insulation, making the buildings comfortable in all seasons.
  3. Defensive Design:
    • Tulou usually have only one main gate, guarded by thick wooden doors reinforced with iron plates.
    • Gun holes are present on the upper levels for defensive purposes.
    • The sturdy construction and strategic design made Fujian Tulou resistant to attacks from bandits, providing security for the inhabitants.
  4. Notable Examples:
    • Chengqi Lou: Known as “the king of tulou,” this massive round tulou in Yongding County has four concentric rings surrounding an ancestral hall at the center. It is one of the largest and most impressive examples of Fujian Tulou.
    • Zhenchenglou: Nicknamed “the prince of tulou,” this double-ring tulou in Hongkeng Village, Yongding County, is notable for its architectural grandeur and Western influences in design.
    • Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster: This quintet cluster in Nanjing County features a unique pattern of five tulous arranged in a “four dishes and a soup” layout, with a square central building surrounded by three round tulous and an oval one.
    • Yuchanglou: Located in Shuyang Town, Nanjing County, this five-story tulou built in the Yuan dynasty is renowned for its zigzag wooden post structure and longevity.
  5. UNESCO World Heritage Status:
    • In 2008, UNESCO inscribed 46 Fujian tulou sites as a World Heritage Site, recognizing them as exceptional examples of communal living and defensive organization harmoniously integrated with their environment.
    • These sites include various clusters like Chuxi, Tianluokeng, Chengqi, and others, showcasing the diversity and cultural significance of Fujian Tulou.

Fujian Tulou exemplify a distinctive architectural tradition and communal lifestyle, reflecting the historical and cultural heritage of the Hakka people in Fujian Province. They continue to attract visitors worldwide for their unique charm and historical significance.