Category: Fujian Tulou.

About Fujian Tulou

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tianluokeng tulou cluster

Tulou (“earthen house”), mainly distributed across the southeastern part of China, namely Fujian, Jiangxi and Guangdong Provinces, is a large-scale civilian residential building built mainly with rammed earth and in a wooden framework. Stones are also used to a varying degree. Tulou is closely associated with several historic upheavals and great migrations in China and East Asia. Among the Tulou buildings of various descriptions, Fujian Tulou is the best-preserved with the broadest coverage, largest quantity and richest variety.

Fujian Tulou concentrates in the southwestern region of Fujian Province and a total of three thousands Tulou Buildings have been found across this province. The region is full of hills and valleys covered by bushy vegetation, enjoys subtropical and marine climate and rich rainfall. The Hakka and the Fulao, two branches of the Han nationality, live in the region, carrying forward the traditional customs of the Han’s and taking farming as their main mode of production.

The birth of Fujian Tulou may date back to many centuries ago. It first appeared between the 11th and 13th century (the Song and Yuan dynasties of China), developed between the 14th and 16th century (the early and mid Ming Dynasty of China), reached its peak between the 1th century and the first half of the 20th century (the late Ming and Qing dynasties and Republic of China period), and is handed down up to now.

Fujian Tulou is mainly built according to the concept of “round heaven and square earth” and in a certain scale to meet the needs of the whole clan living together and a sound defensive function. As an enclosed communal house with two or more storeys in double load-bearing design, i.e. rammed earth wall plus column and tie construction, it is mostly located in the mountainous regions, neighboring with streams, fields and gardens. Visitors may easily fall into a reverie and associate its delicate shape with mushrooms on the emerald plain or a fantastic UFO from the outer space. A large Tulou building usually houses a clan with hundreds of members. Thus, Tulou is also called a “bustling small city” or a “little kingdom for the family”.

types of tulou in Fujian

In terms of building style, Fujian Tulou can be divided into circular, square and mansion-style (five-phoenix building) ones, of which circular Tulou accounts for a large proportion. Therefore, Tulou was once uniformly called “the Earthen Round Hakka Building” across the world. The square ones have various types, such as palace style. In terms of the construction structure, Fujian Tulou has two main designs, one with corridors and the other with separate units.

(1) The Tulou with corridors is featured by corridors connecting the rooms on each floor. A household owns a room (equal to a bay in space) vertically on each floor. There are public stairways for accessing the rooms. An ancestral hall is built in the center of the courtyard, which may also serve as a study. This type of building is commonly seen in the Hakka community, which together with the Fulao community constitutes the two important branches of Han nationality in Fujian Province. It mirrors the high priority given by the Hakka people to the family cohesion.

(2) The Tulou building with separate units is divided equally into units with one household owning one unit. Each unit has its own entrance, inner courtyard and stairways connecting rooms on different floors. It is commonly found in the Fulao community in the Fujian Province, giving a full expression to the Fulao’s demand in privacy, independence and comfort while retaining the family cohesion.

In selecting sites, great importance has been attached to Chinese traditional Fengshui practices which emphasize a southern exposure, shelter from the wind and proximity to the road or river. Facing the south,most of the buildings are nestled among hills and streams, reflecting a harmony with nature. Some buildings are backed against hills or mountains and gather together as villages in picturesque disorder. With circulatory streams and lines of trees, crops namely paddies, fruit trees and tea trees, are planted on the terraced fields. The hilltop is fully covered by vegetation.

In scale, a Tulou building complex usually covers an area of over 1,000 square meters and has 3-5 storeys. For example, the nominated Chengqi Luo is composed of four concentric-circle shaped buildings, covering an area of 5376.17 square meters and possessing more than 400 rooms housing over 600 residents in its heyday. Among those buildings, the one in the outer ring has four storeys and a diameter over 3 meters.

In structure, the main building of Fujian Tulou consists of rammed earth outer wall, wooden framework inside, and the wall foundation made of stones blocks, cobblestones or slab stones. The ancestral halls within the buildings are tasteful and mostly adopt a combined style of “column and tie construction” and “post and lintel construction”. Most circular Tulou buildings have a two-side sloping roof of tiles; the square and polygon Tulou buildings have the overhanging gable roof or the hip and gable roof; and the mansion type Tulou mainly adopts the hip and gable roof.

In layout, circular and square Tulou mainly includes the outer ring and the inner courtyard where one or two wells stand. Circular Tulou mainly consists of a 3-5 storied enclosed rammed earth building in the outer ring and an inner courtyard enclosed by one or two-storied circular buildings in one or three rings. In the Hakka community, a one-storey ancestral hall is usually built at the center of the complex. Thus the whole complex is lower inside and higher outside. In the case of the square Tulou, a quadrangle is enclosed by a building complex on four sides, sometimes with a single-storey ancestral hall at the center. An outer courtyard is enclosed with one-storey supporting rooms facing the main building complex. In the case of the mansion-style Tulou, an outer courtyard is enclosed by low wall in front of the façade of the building and a gatehouse is built on either side for access. The whole building complex is lower in the front and higher in the back. Tulou almost always has a clear central axis. The central axis of circular Tulou runs through the main gate, ancestral hall and the back lobby. This is especially clear in square and mansion-style Tulou. The lobby, main gate and main building are all set on the central axis flanked by wing rooms on the left and affiliated buildings on the right in strict symmetry. Each and every storey of Tulou possesses a clear-cut function. The main building of circular and square Tulou with corridors is usually utilized in the following ways, i.e. kitchens and dining rooms on the first storey, barns on the second, and bedrooms on the third or above. In addition, the ancestral hall and side corridor usually are used as classrooms. The rooms on the first storey in the main building of Tulou with separate units are used as utility rooms, the rooms on the second storey are used as bedrooms, and the rooms on the top storey are barns. Moreover, a concealed corridor is built along with the wall to make a joint defense easy.

In terms of function, each storey of the main building has its own concrete function, for example, the rooms on the first storey are used as kitchens, dining rooms and utility rooms, the rooms on the second storey are used as barns, and the rooms on the third storey are living rooms. In addition, the ancestral hall and side corridor usually are used as classrooms.

The structural stability, defensive functions and the drainage system are fully taken into consideration when the buildings are designed. They meet the needs to have the whole clan live together, fend off enemies and educate the youngsters. In addition, it is warm in winter, cool in summer, and can protect the residents from strong winds and earthquakes.

In terms of structural stability, the outer wall of Tulou tapers in the upper part which is only two thirds or even one half of the thickness at the bottom. This fully ensures the overall stability of the building. Meanwhile, the base of the wall, 1-2 meters above the ground, is comprised of stone blocks, slab stones and cobblestones for the purpose of protecting the wall from soaking by the underground and surface water. The eave of the building projects further to protect the rammed earth wall from rain.

As for the defensive function, there are no windows on the first and second storeys, while the holes for shooting are placed on the external wall above the second storey. The watchtowers projecting from the wall on the highest storey are used to watch for enemies. The door leaves are mostly made of hard board, sometimes covered with iron sheet, and a water trough is set on the top of the door to protect the building from fire attacks by the enemy.

The drainage system of Tulou is complete and well arranged by taking into consideration the topographical factors and flow of streams. There are some main drainage ditches along the main gates of Tulou, which radiate to the outside. There are access holes to facilitate any repair on the ditches. The concept of Fengshui is also taken into consideration in the design of the main drainage ditch. A straight-line discharge is avoided, which, according to the Fengshui practitioners, means that the owner can hardly accumulate wealth and luck within his house. Fujian Tulou also points us to the profound Chinese culture. A large amount of horizontal inscribed boards and couplets as well as the ancestral halls within the building mirror the concept of respecting ancestors and valuing education. Traditional folkways are found in every aspect of the Hakka life, such as the celebration of birthday and festival, wedding, funeral, folk art, code of ethics, domestic discipline exercised by the clan’s leaders, religious belief and clothing as well as cuisine. The cohesion, mutual help and enterprising spirit within the clans give full expression to the rich culture and well demonstrate the local customs and the patriarchal clan system.

The nominated property represents an outstanding example of “Fujian Tulou”, including Chuxi Tulou Cluster (Fujian Tulou-1), Hongkeng Tulou Cluster (Fujian Tulou-2), Gaobei Tulou Cluster (Fujian Tulou-3), Yanxiang Lou (Fujian Tulou-4) and Zhenfu Lou (Fujian Tulou-5) in the Yongding County, Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster (Fujian Tulou-6), Hekeng Tulou Cluster (Fujian Tulou-), Huaiyuan Lou (Fujian Tulou-) and Hegui Lou (Fujian Tulou-9) in the Nanjing County, and Dadi 30 Tulou Cluster (Fujian Tulou-10) in the Hua’an County, Fujian Province.

An example of Tulou cluster

Fujian Tulou-6: Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster
Tianluolceng Tulou Cluster is in the Shangban Village of Shuyang Town in Nanjing County, Fujian Province. 6|] kilometers from Nanjing County, it sits on the slope of the Hudong Mountain, 787.8 meters above the sea level. The building cluster consists of one square Tulou. three circularTulou buildings and one oval Tulou, namely Buyun Lou, Zhenchang Lou. Ruiyun Lou, Hechang Lou and Wenchang Lou, all standing intact. According to statistics in 2005, 111 households and 464 people lived in the Tulou. all ofwhom belong to the Huang Clan and live mainly on farming.

Three sides of this Tulou Cluster. i.e. east, north and west, are surrounded by mountains and the south is a large area of terraces. As to the choice of this location, China’s construction and designing concept Fengshui is followed with emphasis on adjusting layout to local conditions. The five buildings stand along with the mountain up and down in a strict order. Rings of Tulou buildings and terraces echo with each ot.her and form a brilliant picture. ln a bird-eyes view, the five building seems like a plum flower in full bloom or a flying disc landing on the ground, fomring a wonderful picture combining artificial and natural beauty. One could not help marveling at the strikingly beautiful scene.

In May 2001, this Tulou cluster was announced among the fifth batch of “the major historic sites wider national protection.” In November 2003, the village was listed among the first batch of famous historical and cultural villages.

plane view of Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster

Buyun Lou

buyun lou

This Tulou, at the center of this cluster, was built during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1662-1122). Facing southwest. the square Tulou occupies an area of 1050 square meters and has a floor space of 1,393 square meters. This building is of wood-and—earth structure with its bearing wall made mainly of raw earth. The base wall is 1.15 meters thick and the thickness decreases 0.1 meter layer by layer. Adobes are used for the separating walls, cedarn boards for the floor and door, and pine trees for the stairways. The 3—storey building (11.93 meters high) is of the corridor design. The first floor is used as kitchen rooms, the second floor as barns and the third floor as bedrooms. Each floor has 26 rooms. The whole building has four stairways and on the top of the Tulou are four openings for shooting.

Zhenchang Lou

zhengchang lou

The circular Tulou, west of Buyun Lou, was jointly built by the Huang’s in 1930. Facing southwest, it covers an area of 916 square meters and the floor space 1,232 square meters. The 3—storey building is 11.53 meters high and 33 meters in diameter, with the corridor design. Each storey has 26 rooms. The whole building has two stairways, one main gate and one well. The wall is 1.2 meter thick at the bottom. The inner courtyard is paved with cobblestones.

Ruiyun Lou

ruiyun lou

The circular Tulou. southeast of Buyun Lou, was jointly built by the Huang’s in 1936. Facing southwest, it covers an area of 1,063 square meters and has a floor space of 1,176 square meters. The 3-storey building is 11.2 meters high and 35 meters in diameter, with the corridor design. Each storey has 26 rooms. The whole building has two stairways, one main gate and one well. The wall is 1.2 meters thick at t.he bottom. The inner courtyard is paved with cobblestones.

Hechang Lou

hechang lou

This circular Tulou, east of Buyun Lou. was initially built as a square one between the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the begiruiing of the Ming Dynasty (c.a.l354). However. it was burnt down by robbers in the 1930s and was rebuilt into a circular wood-and-earth Tulou in 1953 by the Huang’s on the original site. The rebuilt Tulou faces the southwest. covering an area of 1,263 square meters and having a floor space of L653 square meters. The 3—storey building is 12.3 meters high and 33 meters in diameter. with the corridor design. Each storey has 22 rooms. The whole building has two stairways, one main gate and one well. On the top of the Tulou there are four openings for shooting. The wall is 1.2 meters thick at the bottom. The inner courtyard is paved with cobblestones.

Wenchang Lou

wenchang lou

The oval building, southwest of Buyun Lou, was jointly built by the Huang’s in 1966. Facing southwest, it covers an area of 1,288 square meters and has a floor space of 2,210 square meters. The 3-storey building is 11.8 meters high, with the corridor design. Each fioor has 32 rooms. The building has corridors coruiecting rooms on each floor, two stairways, one main gate and one well. On the top of the outer wall of the Tulou there are three watch holes and four shooting openings. The wall is 1.2 meters thick at the bottom. The iruier courtyard is paved with crushed stones.

Category: Fujian Tulou