FU­JIAN PROV­INCE

Tu­lou

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - LOCAL'S GUIDE -

Packed-earth struc­tures in China date back thou­sands of years, but Fu­jian Prov­ince’s tu­lou take the style to new lev­els. From above they re­sem­ble gi­ant dough­nuts and these mostly cir­cu­lar rammed-earth vil­lages cut a dra­matic form amid rice and tea fields in the prov­ince’s south. Built be­tween the 12th and 20th cen­turies and now UNESCOlisted, tu­lou were erected in clus­ters by Hakka mi­grants flee­ing the Jurchens and later the Mon­gols in north­ern China.

Us­ing com­pacted mud re­in­forced with river stones, bam­boo and wood, they built dozens of the for­ti­fied struc­tures, some reach­ing five storeys in height and able to ac­com­mo­date 800 peo­ple. In­side, court­yards were de­signed to max­imise nat­u­ral light, and were dec­o­rated in bright colours to be used as a com­mu­nal meet­ing space for fa­mil­ial clans. Some tu­lou re­main oc­cu­pied, but many wel­come vis­i­tors, with guides hap­pily show­ing you in­ter­nal fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing halls, shops, wells and schools.

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