Comments on Fujian Tulou by the World Heritage Committee
The Fujian earthen buildings are the most representative and best preserved examples of the earthen houses of the mountainous regions of southeast China. They are recognized as exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization, and, in terms of their harmonious relationship with their environment, an outstanding example of human settlement.
The earthen buildings, mainly distributed in the high mountains in south and west Fujian, are famous for unique architectural style and long history. They include the Gaobei Earthen Building Complex, the Hongkeng Earthen Building Complex, the Chuxi Earthen Building Complex and the Yanxiang Building and the Zhenfu Building in Yongding County, the Tianluokeng Ear-
then Building Complex, the Hekeng Earthen Building Complex and the Guilou Building and the Huaiyuan Building in Nanjing County and the Dadi Tulou Complex in Hua’an County in Fujian Province.
The Fujian earthen Buildings, first built in the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties, are exclusive large-scale rammed earth residential dwellings in any of the world’s mountainous areas. To meet the communal living and defensive requirements, they were built on narrow stretches of level ground using local naturally occurring materials such as earth, timbers and cobbles, according to a unique system. The result was economical, solid, defensive and beautiful. Varied in shapes, they are divided into round structures, square ones, five-phoenix buildings, concave, semi-round and those in the shape of the Eight Diagrams. Of the total, the round and square buildings are the most common, forming a strong contrast with the surrounding natural sights but still being in harmony with them.
The round buildings, putting emphasis on defense, are usually extremely large, some even having 72 bays. Customarily, the bottom floor was used as dining room and kitchen, the second floor as storehouse, and the third as living room and bedrooms. The Yongding House, round in shape, has become the archetypal symbol of the Fujian earthen houses as a whole. The square buildings are most prevalent, usually with a high square wall or at least one that isapproximately square. Other buildings are arranged along the wall, and these buildings are in the same style, some even having six storeys. They use wooden floor boards, ridgepoles and girders and are covered with a tiled roof.
A common characteristic of houses is the long construction period which usually lasts two or three years. The resulting structures are proof against wind, water and earthquakes. Another characteristic is the extremely regular structure; the rooms, for example, are of the same size and stress their actual effect. The building also attaches great importance to the selection of location and number of dwellings.
Website of Hua’an Tulou: www.tuloutours.com
Website ofYongding Tulou: www.fjtl.gov.cn
Tourist Information Transport
There are trains heading for Zhangzhou and Longyan from Guangzhou. One can also hire a car or take a bus to reach Yongding earthen houses from Xiamen. Taxis ply between the scenic spots. The road conditions in Nanjing and Yongding counties are good; most highways are blacktop.
The most characteristic dishes of Zhangzhou are based around seafood. The local people steam the prawns, red crabs, eels and clams to keep the original flavor and make them succulent, tender and tasty. The cuisine in Longyan is based around Hakka dishes and snacks, featuring fresh, fragrant and pure flavors, although the dishes do tend to be a little salty and oily. The Dry-Steamed Hetian Chicken Slices of Changting, the Shuan-jiupin of Liancheng, and the Stewed Pork with Dried Vegetables of Yongding are always popular.