Huaiyuan Lou Tulou; built in 1907
We’ve had discussions about Hakka culture in the past with several of our commenters being of Hakka ancestry, so I wanted to show some photos taken by Ted of tulou (土楼; 土樓) in Fujian province. 60% of Hakka are from the Xingning/Meixian area of Guangdong province and over 95% of overseas Hakka were originally from that region, but tulou exist only in Fujian.
Closeup of the couplet on the door of Huaiyuan Lou.
Looking out the door of Huaiyuan Lou in Changjiao village. On a valley floor surrounded by rice fields and mountains, this site was absolutely beautiful. Ted’s group was lucky enough to eat dinner here on the evening of Mid-Autumn Festival.
Hakka people were originally from the central China plain. Their ancestors migrated southwards several times because of social unrest, upheaval, and the invasion of foreign conquerors, since the Jin Dynasty (265-420). Subsequent migrations occurred at the end of the Tang Dynasty when China fragmented, during the middle of the Song Dynasty which saw massive depopulation of the north and a flood of refugees southward, when the Jurchens captured the northern Song capital, at the fall of the Song to the Mongols in the Yuan Dynasty, and when the Ming Dynasty fell to the Manchu who formed the Qing Dynasty. Some of these migrants did not want to reveal where they were from as under Chinese Laws, a crime of treason committed by one person is punishable by death upon the clan of that person up to nine generations. As the locals did not know where the migrants were from, they were referred to as ‘guest families’.
Looking out the Window of Hegui Lou.
Hakka people now are found in the southern Chinese provinces, chiefly in Guangdong, south-western Fujian, southern Jiangxi, southern Hunan, Guangxi, southern Guizhou, south-eastern Sichuan, and on Hainan and Taiwan islands, where there are television news broadcasts in the Hakka language.
Overlooking the Hekeng Complex.
Fuyu Lou, one of the more beautiful buildings in the Hongkeng Complex; they also offer a great lunch.
Set in the less desirable mountainous regions in Fujian, the Hakka designed these unique homes as a large fortress and apartment building in one in order to prevent attack from bandits and marauders. Structures typically had only one entrance and no windows at ground level. Each floor served a different function – the first hosts wells and livestock, the second is for food storage and the third and higher floors contain living spaces. Tulou can be found mostly in south western Fujian and southern Jiangxi provinces. tulou buildings have been inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Tianluokeng cluster also referred to as four dishes and one soup. Construction of these buildings began in 1796.
The defensive design of their buildings was wholly functional and reflects their status as “guest people”. There are three major styles, circular, square, and Phoenix which is multi-layered and multi-leveled. Also, Taoism played a central part in the construction of the buildings. A priest was called to select and bless a site before construction and, according to the tour guides, buildings often had two wells, yin and yang, balanced on a central axis.
Ancestral hall of Chengqi Lou.
During the Reagan Administration, the CIA mistook tulou for missile silos and sent an undercover fact finding team to check it out under the guise of a cultural tour!
Chengqi Lou completed in 1709 is one of the largest of tulou with 288 rooms and about 300 residents.
If you decide to tour this area, Ted recommends hiring a local driver rather than an organized tour, who have told their foreign travelers they could not enter several tulou that Ted had visited. Staying in a tulou can be a lot of fun but far from luxurious, so make sure your bed has a mosquito net, and a soft mattress is a plus.
Taxiacun in Southeastern Fujian Province about 3 hours west of Xiamen; there are small earthen buildings and tulou along the stream running through town. On the hillside above the town is an ancestral temple and stone pillars erected in honor of townspeople who passed the Imperial Exam.
Families lighting Kongmingdeng in Taxiacun.
Ancestral Hall of the Hegui Lou, a rectangular tulou built in 1732. The Ancestral Hall was the center of the tulou and of family life. Celebrations, meetings, weddings; any important gathering was held here.
An example of a typical Hakka family meal.
Hakka restaurant/crafts museum east of Miaoli, Taiwan. Some traditional handicrafts are displayed on the wall and balcony railing.
Hakka restaurant in Miaoli, Taiwan. This is very a very typical style for a family restaurant in this area of Taiwan; informal and relaxed.