Friday, September 4, 2009

Tulou 土楼

A tulou 土楼 or "earthen building", is a traditional communal residence in the Fujian province of Southern China, usually of a circular configuration surrounding a central shrine. These vernacular structures were occupied by clan groups.

Although most tulou were of earthen construction, the definition "tulou" is a broadly descriptive label for a building type and does not indicate construction type. Some were constructed of cut granite or had substantial walls of fired brick. Most large-scale tulou seen today were built of a composite of earth, sand, and lime known as sanhetu rather than just earth.

The famous Fujian Tulou, designated as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, is a small and specialized subgroup of tulou, and are known for their unique shape, large scale, and ingenious structure. There are more than 20,000 tulou in southern Fujian. Approximately 3,000 of them are Fujian Tulou, that is 15% of tulou belongs to Fujian Tulou category - by wikipedia.

We join the local tour to visit the tulou on one Sunday morning which cost us RMB180.00 per person by bus. This covers everything including transportation, lunch and entrance fee. The journey took us 2 hours to reach our destination. We started at 8.30 am and reached back Xiamen at about 5 pm.
Visiting tulou is a must if you are in Fujian or Xiamen. The scenery was beyond my expectation. The location is up at the mountains and it is impossible to visit this place on your own as you need to move from our place to another accompanied by a tour guide. The price we paid was worth the value of the tour.
What you see from the outside is totally a different picture inside. The first time I enter the tolou, my mouth open in surprise. It's amazing they have so many people staying in this circular building with multi storeys. The ground floor is usually the kitchen hall or a sundry shop. And the upper floors are the bed rooms. They even have a well for water consumption in each house.
In the center of those clusters are the playing area, a market place and places where they rare poultry. To me this place is very unique and you don't get to see them in any other places. There are many tulous in Fujian and we only visit one of the the villages.

12 comments:

Sunny said...

What amazing structures and so interesting.
Wonderful photos.
Sunny :)

Greyscale Territory said...

This would be an intriguing experience! I have never seen such structures before! I imagine living would be cramped, but also families would support one another! Wonderful photos!

bettyl said...

What an incredible world you discovered! I am intrigued and amazed by these dwellings.

mitt vattenhål said...

Interesting and spectacular buildings. Like the first photo a lot. Good with the following and the story about them

Christina, Sweden

Hilda said...

This is an absolutely fascinating post. I've never heard of a tulou before and one structure alone looks like it can house an entire clan! Wonderful mountain views from the village too!

Thank you for the very educational tour. Happy Sunday!

mantse said...

Tulou is really very impressive thing which lastime i have been there...

your introduction is great and looking forward to see more

Horsoon said...

Heard about Tulou, but never get the chance to experience it. Good pix and write-up!

Karen said...

Very interesting and informative post to go along with the photos. I had never heard of these structures before. They look like apartment houses.

mountain.mama said...

Wow, that is so unusual. Great post!

Meikah said...

Great WS entr: good shots, interesting story. :) Have a great week ahead!

JO said...

very interesting... lovely photos.

Thanks for sharing.


joarduo.com

Briana said...

Browsing through the Scenic Sunday meme and came to yours. Thanks so much for this awesome post! Those are wonderful, informative pictures, and the entire family found this very interesting.

I'm planning to join in very soon--what a wonderful group of photos. This may be the only way I get to see real photos from around the world!