2014年1月9日 星期四

Tour to Fujian 2 Tulou at Yongding (福建之旅2 --永定土樓)


 The second day of the trip to my native province brought me to one of the most peculiar forms of architecture which has now been admitted as part of the UNESCO's cultural heritage. The tulou (土樓) of Yongding in Fujian Province (福建永定), a county administered by Longyan (龍岩市) in the south-west of Fujian Province bordering Tai Po County (大浦) and Mui County (梅縣) of Guangdong Province (廣東) at its south west. But in the Jin (晉) Dynasty (265-420 CE) , Yongding was part of Sin Lo county of Jin An Region( 晉安郡 新羅縣 ) and in the Sung  (宋) Dynasty (960 -1279), part of 上源杭縣 but in 1478 during the Ming (明) Dynasty (1368-1644), it was renamed Yongding (永定 ) and formed part of Ting Chau Division (汀州府 ) and Ting Chau Military Region (汀州道) but on 1st September 1049, it was placed under Longyan City (龍岩市)  after its "liberation" by the Communists, just one month before the  establishment of the PRC was proclaimed on Tian An Mun Square (天安門廣場) by Mao Tsetung.  Yongding is all hill country, fed by the Ting River (汀江) and its tributary the Yonding River (永定河), a 280 KM river which is the fourth longest river in Fujian, feeding, inter alia, Changding( 長汀) as well as Yongding( 永定 ) and Tai Po of Mui Chau, Guangdong (廣東梅州大浦). Its highest peak Mang Dong Yang (茫盪洋) rises to some 1450 M above sea level. The locals there speak the Yongding dialect  (永定話), a sub-dialect of the Hakka dialect (客家話).

These are the gates to the building where we would be taken by a special coach up to see the most famous cluster of Tulou's (土樓) in the county viz. those at Hung Hang Villlage (洪坑土樓群) under the township of Yongding County (永定縣湖坑鎮洪坑村.) ( the other tulou clusters in Fujian are those located at Nam Kai (南溪) Ko Pak( 高北)  and Chor Kai( 初溪). There are a number of tulou's in Yongding including Zhangcheng Lou( 振成樓) Fu Yu Lou (福裕樓 )、Fui Tsui Lou (奎聚樓 ) Kwang Yu Lou (光裕樓)、Yu Xing Lou (如升樓)、King Yang Lou (景陽樓)、Hing Shing Lou (慶成樓)、Fu Shing Lou (福興樓)、Yu Shing Lou (玉成樓) and Hing Fu Lou (慶福樓). Some of them went back to more than 600 years.eg. Zhangcheng Lou (振成樓) , Fu Yu Lou (福裕樓) and Fui Tsui Lou (奎聚樓 ) , which in 2001  were declared to be the 5th group of national heritage buildings. On 6th July, 2008, the Tulou's in the Hung Hang Village were declared a UNESCO's World Heritage Site and in 2009, all the other tulou's there were declared the 7th group of national heritage.The Wen Ying Tea (萬應茶) ( literally "Panacea Tea") of yongding (永定) has been declared one of the national  "intangible cultural heritage"  of China (中國國家級非物質文化遺產).

This is the building where we would get the tickets for the coach that would take us up. On the 3-hour journey from Amoy to Yongding, we were told that this hilly county is the ancestral home to quite a number of famous people in China including many politicians in Taiwan like Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄 born June 19, 1939), its former Interior Minister (1984-1988), Mayor of Taipei (1988–1990), Secretary-General to the President (1991–1996), and Chairman of the Kuomintang  (KMT) (2007-2009) and  Lee Teng-hui (李登輝 ) (born 15 January 1923), former Chairman of the KMT and President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 1988 to 2000 ; Annette Lu Hsiu-lien (呂秀蓮 b June 7, 1944), the former Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2000 to 2008, under Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the number 2 woman of the Democratic Progressive Party (民進黨) and one of th most vociferous advocates of the independence of Taiwan and a fierce feminist activist.The first attorney-General of the PRC Chiang Ting Shing( 張鼎丞)  also came from Yongding, which is also the home county of Wu Yichuan (胡一川), the pioneer of new style Chinese woodcarving; Aw Boon Haw (胡文虎), the founder of Tiger Balm Oil (萬金油)  and Cheng Shaoying  (鄭小瑛), China's first woman symphony orchestra conductor, who learned music first at the Central Music Academy in Beijing, then at the Conservatory in Moscow and became the first conductor of the orchestra of the China Opera House (中央歌劇院). In 1998, she returned to Fujian to organize the Xiamen Symphony Orchestra and has been its music director ever since, actively promoting classical music amongst the public and especially at the universities and giving regular concerts at the University of Xiaman and the Jimei University when she would also give talks about the music to be performed and for that reason a most popular conductor.

On our way to Yongding, we passed through many open air fields full of rows and rows of  such carton paper made in Fujian because Fujian has lots of trees suitable for making paper pulp and rough quality carton paper which it'll use to pack its fruit and other native farm produce for sale to other parts of China.

These are some of the tulou's we saw on the way. Most of them are built in the form of either a square or a rectangle with very high walls and very small doors on the ground and small windows only at the top such that in case of attack, they can shoot arrows, pour down hot water or oil from such tiny openings. Their walls are quite thick and help insulate their occupiers from the summer heat and winter gusts. They are built by the Hakka people who moved there from Shanxi (山西), Honan (河南) during the unsettling dynastic wars and famines attending the ending of the Jin, the Sung, the Ming dynasties and during aborignal rebellions. They were originally all refugees fleeing from pillages during such wars and/or famines or were the descendants of the soldiers brought by the imperial generals despatched there from northern or central China to quell rebellions by warlords during the interregna between the end of the former and the establishment of the new dynasties or uprisings by the aboriginal tribes in Fujian.


Many of such tulou's are built on hilltops so that they could have a much better view of the surrounding country (their height by itself makes it more difficult for the bandits to attack them). Because there is not much flat land on some of the hill tops, to maximize the use of the available space, they are built in the shape of a ring. A ring-shape also has other advantages: they can have an ancestral hall right at the centre of the innermost ring of the three different concentric circles , thus helping to give the clansmen a sense of social, economoic and political unity as they emphasize the Confucian value of filial piety and respect for the elders arising from of their common ancestry.

Sometimes, you will find similar types of square or rectangular shaped houses around the circular tulou's built on more or less the same principles but not so compact or strong.

9/10ths of the land in Fujian are mountains. There are rocky mountains everywhere.

On both sides of the roads, there are rows and rows of terraces for growing tea. Fujian is one of the main tea-exporting provinces in China.

Once inside the entrance of ticket building, we found ourselves in the middle of a circle at the centre of which, we find a circular bagua ( 八卦, literally "eight symbols" or formally  "trigrams") , eight "trigrams" (爻) used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of all reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each trigram consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken," representing respectively yin (陰) or yang (陽). The trigrams are created in accordance with the principles of taiji (太極)  and those of wu xing (五行) or "five elements" viz. metal  or gold (金) wood (木 ), water (水) , fire (火) and earth (土) which give birth to each other and control each other (雙生雙剋).  Thus metal helps to produce water, water nourishes the earth, the earth nourishes wood, wood helps the fire and fire helps to produce metal but metal hurts wood, wood absorbs water, water extinguishes fire, and fire reduces everything on earth to nothing. The relationships between the trigrams are represented in two arrangements, the Potential or pre-manifested baqua(先天八卦) or "Fuxi" bagua (伏羲八卦), and the Manifested bagua (後天八卦)  or "King Wen" bagua (文王八卦). The way and the order the trigrams show themselves during divination (占卜) are thought to have implications in astronomy, astrology, geography, geomancy (feng shui) (風水) , anatomy, the family and  the fate of man and his relation to other men and to Nature. The ancient Chinese classic I Ching (易經) describes and interprets the meaning of the way the 64 possible pairs of trigrams (called "hexagrams") show themselves during such divination. The 64 combinations are derived from the original two poles of Yin and Yang as follows: 無極生有極 (太極) ; 太極生兩儀 (陰陽) ; 兩儀生四象 ( 少陰、太陰、少陽、太陽) ;  四象演八卦、八八六十四卦. ( ie. the Limitless (Wuji) gives brith to the delimited ( ie. the  Taiji  or Tai Chi ); the Taiji gives birth to two forms (ie. yin 陰 and yang 陽 ); the two forms give birth to four phenomena (ie. the lesser yin, the greater yin (equivalent to the Moon), the lesser yang, the greater yang (equivalent to the Sun).

Heaven/Sky  Lake/Marsh  Fire     Thunder    Wind     Water     Mountain     Earth
天 Tiān            澤( Zé )    火( Huǒ) 雷 (Léi)   風 Fēng 水 (Shuǐ)  山 (Shān)    地 (Dì)

Another philosophical description of the source of the Baqua is attributed to King Wen of Zhou Dynasty (周文王): "When the world began, there was heaven and earth. Heaven mated with the earth and gave birth to everything in the world. Heaven is Qian-gua (乾掛), and the Earth is Kun-gua (艮掛). The remaining six guas are their sons and daughters".The Bagua is an essential tool in the most Feng Shui schools but such Bagua in Feng Shui can appear in two different versions: the Earlier Heaven Bagua,(先天八掛) being used for choosing tomb sites and building tombs and the Later Heaven Bagua (後天八掛) being used for the determining the design of the houses and furniture for the living.

A bagua map is a tool used in modern forms of Feng Shui to map a room or location and find out how the different sections correspond to different aspects in one's life, one's fortune and one's possible destiny. These sections are believed to relate to every area or aspect of life and are divided into such categories as fame, relationships and marriage, children and creativity,  people likely to help one and travel, career, inner knowledge, family and ancestors or health, and wealth or blessings.In this system, the Baqua map is intended to be used over the land, one's home, office or desk to find areas lacking good chi, (氣) and to show where there are negative or missing spaces which may need rectifying or enhancing in life or the environment. According to the Taoists, life arises from the manifestation of the accumulation of Chi (生者氣之聚). Chi may be understood in modern terms as "energy". A good life is one in which the various forms of energies (positive. negative factors in different strengths or concentrations) complement each other instead of working against each other to produce peace, equilibrium, balance, harmony and hence happiness.

I believe that the reason why the baqua symbol was placed in the circle at the inside court of the entrance building may be to emphasize the fact that all the tulou's are built in accordance with the principles as elaborated in the principles of Feng Shui eg. usually the tulous are built with their entrance towards either the south or the east, depending on the lay of the land and preferring to have their back against the hills and to have an unobstructed view of the sky and the mountain streams.

There are shops around the circle selling cultured pearls and other preserved Hakka food. Since the Hakka people were refugees on the run, they developed various methods for preserving unused vegetables during their trek across China in their journey of migration. Two of the commonest types of preserved vegetables used by most Chinese families are the Mei Tsai (梅菜) , made from the tender shoots along with the flowers of Chinese mustard or mustard greens (芥菜 ) by drying them in the sun for a couple of days, then seasoning them evenly with salt in an urn and then sealing them with big leaves of the same vegetable and then leaving them to ferment for about a week or ten days and then taking them out to dry in the sun. The  dried white turnips or radish (菜脯)  (called Takuan (沢庵) in Japanese and danmuji (단무지) in Korean) is made more or less the same way: by drying the radish in the sun for a few days, cutting them into big strips together with the skin, packing them into an urn with salt rubbed evenly on to their surface, sealing them  them up for two days, taking them out again to dry in the sun for another two or three days and then putting them back into the urns adding more salt, with a little sugar or other spices and then sealing them and letting them stay there a week or so. After that, they'll keep in open air for a long time. And they can be used as pickles for congees or make an excellent scrambled egg with such diced pickles. Its equivalent in liquid form, the spicy and sour preserved turnips (酸蘿蔔) bottled in vinegar, salt and sugar with or without chillis.


There were other shops selling arts and crafts and local wines, like the yellow wine (黃酒) drunk by the Hakka. .

The corridors to our coach


 An environmentally friendly vehicle for going up the mountain area. However, we were not taken up in these small vans. Since there were more than 20 of us, they gave us a special coach, all to ourselves.

We passed through more mountains whose terraces are planted with tea plants and on the lower ground with bananas. But because the weather was unusually cold this year, many of the banana trees were frozen to death. According to our guides, this hasn't happened for more than 20 years! The yellow patches in the photos are dead banana trees.

Settlements at the bottom of the valleys. In this photo, we see some round tulous in yellow at the center of the surrounding houses in white

The terraced hillside all planted with tea bushes

as well as on the intermontane plains

Tea and bananas, ( dead now from the cold) and on the roadside mandarin orange

Every available patch of hillside is cultivated

 A whole valley of terraces. In the background is another famous Fujian plant: bamboos. Its shoots can be eaten and the body of the bamboo makes excellent scaffolding material.

Our first closer look of a round-shaped tulou just by the side of the road we passed 


Our tour guide made a special request to the chauffeur to allow us to stop on the way to look at a famous tulou cluster: the Tianluokeng Tulou cluster (田螺坑土樓群).

A view from afar  

A closer view by zooming in

The closest view. We were told that there would be a celebration by the Wong clan there and that previously, tourists would be allowed to see their interiors but there are now some unresolved disputes between the village chief of this tulou cluster and the government on  how to split the gate receipts. So no tour groups can go inside now except with the special permission of the village chief. This cluster is popularly called "4 dishes and 1 soup" (四令食送一湯) because there are 4 round shaped tulous with one square tulou.

After we got down from our coach, we had to walk some steps up to the road leading to the village. At the entrance to the village, we found many ladies  and men selling locally grown fruits like haddock, pomelo, pummelo, pommelo, or lusho fruit, papaya and wild beehives.

We had to walk through a street some two to three hundred feet long with shops and stalls on both sides.

Another roadside stall selling pomelos, mangoes, bananas etc.


This stall sells dried perimonsa some local biscuits, snacks and candies. 

This is a slice of the wild bee hive. You can see the wild bees still stuck there on a typical bamboo mat tray.

This one sells models of the round-shape tulou and some Fujian wood carving of Buddhas  and pixiu ( 貔貅) a kind of mythical greyish-white beast with the head of a dragon, the body of a horse but with the feet of a kilun (麒麟) (another mythical beast), the shape of a lion with ability to fly, believed to be able to suck dry the blood of monsters and transform it into wealth, the 9th son of the King of the Sea, the Dragon King (海龍王), with power to drive clouds and stop rain , being charged with the duty of administering thunder and with surveillance duties in heaven to prevent harm which may be done by monsters and evil spirits and also the spreading of plagues.Legend has it that since it's a big eater, it often needed to excrete and one day it did so and dirtied the palace of the Great Jade Emperor (玉皇大帝) who in his anger tried to slap him on the face but since he moved whilst trying to to avoid the big slap, the punishing hand of the Great Jade Emperor landed instead on his anus which was thereafter sealed. Hence his big belly is full of gold and jewelery which could only go in but never come out .Thus  it's believed that those who wish to get rich must touch his buttocks. According to the book of Chronicles (史記), Huangdi (黃帝) had directed those tribes which had trained tigers, leopards, bears, and pixiu (tribes having such beasts as their totems, pixiu being the totems of two different tribes)  to help him defeat another tribal chief Chiyiu 蚩尤  at the Battle of Ban Chuan 板泉之戰 . So when Emperor Chouwu ( 周武王)  fought King Zhou (紂) of Zhang Dynasty (商), it was reported that his warriors fought "like tigers and pixiu" . Thus in olden days, there was a custom not only performing the dragon dance and the lion dance which we still see nowadays but also of doing the pixiu dance. Even in popular Buddhist worship, the  Bodhisattva of Hell is portrayed as riding on a pixiu-like beast called Listening to the Truth (諦聽). According to The Book of Shang《尚書·牧誓》篇, the pixiu belongs to the "tiger family". According to 《索隱》:「《爾雅》雲「貔,白狐」」, it's a white fox. According to 晉代郭璞「《書》稱猛士如虎如貔。貔蓋豹屬」. According to 陸璣疏:「貔似虎,或曰似熊,遼東謂之白熊。」It's like a white bear. But according to《說文解字》:「豹屬,出貉國。」, it's rather like a leopard. According to popular belief, the beast is the 9th son of the Dragon King of the Sea (海龍王) and looks like a golden toad, with a big mouth which feeds on jewelery but has no anus, symbolizing its ability to garner wealth without relinquishing any.  According to such opular belief, probably invented by those who make or sell  stone or jade or wood or metal version of pixiu for a living," Touch it once, your fortune will be good, touch it twice, money will rolling in, touch it thrice, and you'll rise to the blue clouds (ie. become a high government official) )  “一摸貔貅運程旺盛,再摸貔貅財運滾滾,三摸貔貅平步青雲" But many Feng Shui masters often mistake it for 辟邪 ( which originally refers to white dog and white chicken which are said to have the capacity for helping us avoid bad luck and evil things). There are a total of 26 forms of pixiu and 49 avatars but through the ages, the form of pixiu has stabilized and nowadays, it's often portrayed as having the head of a dragon, the body of a horse, with scaled legs, a beard under its chin, with short wings upon its chest, with two horns (but nowadays, it's rare to find one with two horns), curled up tail, bulging eyes, protruding fangs with its beard trailing over its chest to its back. Sometimes, it's portrayed as having an ancient coin on its lips. If it has one horn, it's female and is called 貅 or 天鹿 (天祿)  but if it has two horns, then it's male and is called 貔 or 辟邪 (literally "evil destroyer " ) . It is believed that when a pixiu is placed on the girders of a house or upon its roofs, it would help ward off all kinds of evil spirits and if placed at a suitable spot in one's office, it will help bring in wealth for its owner. But since the pixiu is a creature of heaven, if one is a dishonest person, then placing its image in one's office will not have the effect of bringing in fortune for its owner . 

But the pixiu is called here, "money bringing frog"!

This is the famous Chengkai Lou (承啟樓) a really big round-shape housing compound where more than 600 people live inside, built in 1308 BCE during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1402). 

A closer view. One can see how high the walls are compared to the height of the people below. It's a 5 storey-structure with 54 rooms on each floor. The edifice tapers upward towards the top so as to provide a firmer and more stable structure as the lower parts will have to bear more weight. The upper floors  and the best rooms there (closest to the stairs, most sun, best ventilation, best views, furthest from possible attack by enemies which had to mount most steps and risk being intercepted by younger people living lower down,  corresponding best physically to their social status) are reserved for the older people, with the oldest living on the top floor. As you go down, the age of the population gets younger. That's because the highest floor is furthest from the water vapor on the ground as older people will tend to get rheumatism. Another reason why the old is accommodated there is that the air up there is the cleanest because all the windows of the round structure are open only at the top two floors and they are designed in such a way that there will always be a window open on the corresponding opposite side of the external wall so as to create a draught for better air circulation. The walls are really thick, more than 6 feet at the bottommost part! They are made with dry mud, rammed hard and compacted together with a concoction made from glutinous rice pulp and lime mixed with wild honey. They are built on a foundation dug out from the ground and then filled in first with little pebbles, then with  bigger pebbles or roundish rocks and then covered over with rammed mud, all easily available local materials. Inside the high protective walls the actual living quarters are built with fine quality wood, their weight being supported by wooden girders buried deep inside the thick external mud walls. The kitchens are built in the round courtyard, where they would also build some houses with fired green bricks. The ground floor and first floor are usually used for storage and as work area and only the upper floors are used as actual living quarters. Inside each round tulous, there are a number of wells. Thus the round tulous form a compact fortified housing complex for communal living by members of the same clan

A plaque showing that the buildings have been declared a national heritage building since 15th June, 2001.

Outside of the circular structure, there is a stone wall as the first line of defence for the first round tulou opening to the outside at the end of the entrance road.

Outside of the circular main building and not more than a few tens of feet away is the village school. To the Hakka people, only two matters are important to the menfolk: to cultivate the land and to study and for the ladies, to help look after the menfolk, the elders and to produce and then feed, clothe and train children in social interaction and manners. To the Hakka people, many of whom are the descendants of imperial officials sent to Fujian to administer the land or to maintain law and order as soldiers. it's most important to educate  the young because only the educated are eligible to take the imperial examinations, which at that time was the easiest and perhaps the only way to social and political advancement. Imperial officials enjoyed not good salaries and material wealth, they were also respected by all the common folks, more than 98% of whom were illiterates. In those days, only imperial officials were allowed to build an ancestral hall for their clan and thus to show off to the other families how successful their clan was vis a vis the other clans.. 


The couplet outside of the village school reads "The warning of its eye-catching discourse reaching out across the seas. The reed pipes the strings and bamboo flute spreading delight within the hills."  (醒世文章警海外. 蘆管絲竹樂山中" ) The couplet expresses well the wishes of the villagers. The Hakkas have got the spirit of adventure in their blood. (Many of their descendants have settled overseas in 80 countries in all parts of the globe, to Taiwan, to South East Asia, Europe and north America. According to a survey done in 1994 by the Hakka clansmen associations all over the world, there were 65 million Hakkas all told, more than 4.5 million of them overseas and by 2011, they estimate the total Hakka population has grown to 12 Million) But those who stay behind can still find delight in their music made with instruments like the wooden shawn (哨吶) a kind of Chinese trumpet with a high pitched sound invariably used by them during marriage and funeral ceremonies  since the Ming dynasty, the string instruments like erwu (二胡) and and bamboo flute. Many of the Hakka people here were the descendants of imperial officials who came to administer Fujian during the previous centuries or former court officials who came south during the Sung and Ming Dynasties when China was affected by attacks first by the Jin (金人) a branch of Manchu's  and then by the Mongols (蒙古人).

An aerial view of the 5 ring structure (photo from internet) 

The outermost ring. It can be seen that the houses are built on a raised platform. This is to facilitate drainage. There are a total of 4 storeys. The higher the generation ranking, the higher one lives.

Looking up

The top floor, all done in wood: the rooms, the stairs, the corridors, the eaves, the the beams, the girders.

 There are partitions in the circular courtyard too. The kitchens are to the right of the photo.

To see the ancestral hall, we had to pass through three circles of brick buildings deliberately built with maze-like interconnecting passages so as to confuse intruders unfamiliar with the entry and exit points amongst the buildings in the inner circles.   


 between each circle of buildings, there are corridors.

No space is wasted: spaces beneath the staircase is used as storage space 


Even the walls of one of the staircase is used for displaying wooden handicraft. Each such round-shaped tulou has 4 to 5 such staircases.

 Another one of the corridors. The building inside are built with good quality fired green bricks.


Previously, the ground floors are used as kitchens and storage and the first floor as storage and/or working area and the only the 2nd, 3rd or sometimes the 4th floors are used as residences. Now that there are so many tourists coming to see the Fujian Tulou's especially after Premier Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) saw it a few years ago, many of the families have converted the ground floors into family type shops or would place whatever they want to sell outside their own alloted room.

Some of the families who do not need to use their rooms for storage convert them into formal shops

  This one sells tea

 This one sells herbal tea made from treated mandarin oranges

This one even has a tea tasting room

There is a sky window on one of the small cubicles

It houses a well . In the olden days, as far as possible, each family would have their own well

But times have changed, there is now piped water supply

In the round courtyard, there is a small private courtyard, very nicely decorated. Does that belong to the village chief? It was George Orwell who said famously: all are equal, but some are more equal than others.


 The houses on the second rings are much smaller and their corridors correspondingly narrower

 part of the second ring of houses

The 3rd rows of building. One can see that the corridors outside have become narrower and narrower but there are still open sewer which guides the dirty water towards the outer part of the building


Others would continue to use their allotted space as a kitchen and dining room

Outside the door of some of the houses are joss-stick holders nailed to the walls

With time, some of the old green bricks have been replaced by poorer quality yellow bricks

At the innermost ring and right at the heart of the 4 outer rings is the ancestral hall. In China, not every family is entitled to have an ancestral hall. Whether and if so, how many structures each family is allowed to build is strictly governed by Chinese rites which has been codified into law.  Only those clans one of whose member is an imperial official has the right to erect an ancestral hall. In Sung dynasty, the rules were relaxed slightly such that those clans who intended to build an ancestral hall and who could prove that within the 5 previous generations, they had been an imperial official, would be given permission to build an ancestral hall at the place where they were then residing.

The plaque above the ancestral hall at the center of the rings of buildings: both brothers were appointed as officials in this clan

 The plaque shows that someone in this family must have been a calligraphist

This clan also worships the Koon Yin, which is a popular Buddhist god worshipped by most ordinary Chinese folks

This gentleman is having a cigarette at the side of the shrine whilst making a frame with bamboo fibres in preparation for some kind of celebration

He is cutting the strips into small strips with just a hacking knife

Time to go 

The foundation of the mud wall: smaller pebbles at the bottom, bigger rocks on top and on top of that again small pebbles with spaces between the bigger rocks and holes in the wall to allow water seeping down from above to pass outside of the walls.

At intervals on the exterior wall, you find these poles sticking out. They are there to provide space for expansion and contraction of the wall so that the walls won't break with either expansion with heat and contraction in cold weather.

Also at regular intervals, you find these open slits: they are there for the same purpose. The bamboo there will keep the slits from closing. Bamboo fibres are the strongest natural fibres man can find: they have remarkable flexibility and power to rebound. It's features like these which help keep the external wall intact even during earthquakes.

The form of allowing the energy to disperse are quite varied. This is another way. They use wood, bamboo, reed and other materials to create room for expansion to relieve vertical and horizontal pressure caused by earth tremors. 

We see here that they have inserted wooden planks, bamboo strips to give the wall a kind of flexibility they would not otherwise have so that the thick mud wall is better able to absorb shocks and tremors. 

The tiny windows close to the roof of the ring housing complex

The couplet at the exit of Zhangkai Lou starting with the characters Zhang (承) and Kai (啟).   

We also visited a square type tulou in the same village next to the Shija Lou( 世澤樓) .

It looks as if they've got some one in this clan who is a good calligraphist

The inside of the square compound. All the kitchens are in this yard. where poultry are kept. We're told that normally, the residents would stock up food sufficient a 3-month siege just in case of attacks by marauding bandits or hostile armies. 

 This one is also four storey high

The stairs are also made of good quality wood. There are holes on the vertical faces of steps. Perhaps that is to allow for better ventilation of the store room underneath the steps?

This girl is sorting out the tea leaves for packing

Every family seems to be selling more or less the same kind of things, peas, tea leaves

This one also has a tea  tasting room

Here they sell Hakka wines too

Even paintings done on wooden planks

The artist's tools of trade

This family emphasizes how honest they are 

Life here seems quite leisurely. They do not appear to be too concerned about business. They seem to take the attitude that "If you buy, fine. If you don't, that's fine too!" I's so very different from the attitude of the Indians who would pester you incessantly but will not feel offended if you don't respond.

The dogs here, seem to take the same attitude

They've got small houses in the courtyard too.

A mix of the new and the old: cloth shields on bamboo poles and plasticized canvas or plastic sheets for better cover

 A staircase leading to the first floor : quite narrow.

This is their ancestral hall

 The old and the new both enjoying the sun: life itself!

The way out

Another memorial claiming that they're now in the Quinness Book of Records as having the most number of old Tulous : more than 3000 in the whole of Fujian. But only 46 of them qualifies as world cultural heritage in 2008. 

A pond where they get the water. It is a rule that every tulou must be built around a water source, either close to a stream or some wells.

There is only a tiny space between the eaves of the round and the square houses

Another view of the narrow space between the two houses.

On the exterior of the former village school, the flower bed is now used to dry the mustard greens (芥菜). This is the first part of the process: sunning them so that they turn soft. The next step will be to place them into an urn with salt and sugar so that they would ferment for a couple of days before they will be sunned again and then salted, seasoned and sealed again. After about 10 to 15 days, they will be sunned again as "mei tsai" (梅菜) often used to prepare a famous Hakka dish called 梅菜扣肉 or mei tsai with braised fattish pork or steamed mei tsai with pork (梅菜蒸豬肉)

More vegetable and other seeds left to be sunned in the open air

And on the grass too

The sun dried skin of the mandarin orange is used as a spice and also as a cure for sore throats.

 This is sand ginger (沙薑)

But there are also some flowers too in the open space outside the compound


Some yellow carmellia

 And some white ones

 We're on our way back now

    They're beating the candy with a huge wooden hammer to make the sugar more chewy. I bought some: delicious!

 All kinds of native farm products for sale on the way back

All kinds of tea leaves for sale

 And even cultured pearls!

                                                        pearls being polished

handwoven cloths in all kinds of colors

                                                        African or Indonesian?

 Cowboy hats for sale too! Is that globalization?