Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fujian Tulou,Misunderstood As Nuclear Reactor By FBI

Tulou has some other names, like Hakkas’ Earthen Buildings, The Earthen Buildings of Hakkas, Round-Dragon House, Round house.

A brief introduction
Tulou is a traditional communal residence of the Hakka and other people in the mountainous areas in southwestern Fujian, China. They are mostly built between the 12th to the 20th centuries. Tulou is usually of a circular configuration surrounding a central shrine. These vernacular structures were occupied by clan groups. There is something funny about it. It is not famous, until FBI and spy’s satellite found it and considered it as a kind of secret nuclear reactor in China for its unique look.

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.

Tulou are mostly located in the mountainous regions of Yongding County of Longyan City and Nanjing County of Zhangzhou City, both in the Fujian province of Southern China. 46 Fujian Tulou sites including Chuxi tulou cluster, Tianluokeng tulou cluster, Hekeng tulou cluster, Gaobei tulou cluster, Dadi tulou cluster, Hongkeng tulou cluster, Yangxian lou, Huiyuan lou, Zhengfu lou and Hegui lou have been inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, "as exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization, and, in terms of their harmonious relationship with their environment".

Effective Defense Function

Besides living, Tulou has some other Effective Defense Function for its special physics structure and building material. It can be used to defense against bandits, and play an important role in quakeproof, fire prevention, guard against theft etc.

The Most Famous Fujian Tulou

Zhengcheng lou

Zhenchenglou, nicknamed "the prince of tulou", belongs to Hongkeng Tulou cluster. It is located in Hongkeng village, Hukeng township of Yingding county. Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage 1113-002 It was built in 1912 by the descendents of a rich tobacco merchant. Zhenchenglou is a double ring tulou, its outer ring is 4 storey high, total 184 rooms, the inner ring is 2 storey with 32 rooms. The outer ring was partitioned into four segments according to Bagua concept of Chinese Fengshui.

Western influence is evident in the Greek style columns of the ancestral hall, and in the wrought iron railing of the second level corridor.


Chengqilou, nicknamed "the king of tulou", of Gaobei Tulou cluster at Gaotou village was built in 1709. Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site 1113-003 in 2008. It is massive rotunda tulou with four concentric rings surrounding an ancestral hall at the center, the outer ring is 62.6 meter in diameter and 4 storey tall 288 rooms, with 72 rooms on each level, circular corridor on 2nd to 4th floor, with 4 sets of staircases at cardinal points connecting ground to top floors. A big roof extending out ward covers the main ring. The ground floor rooms are kitchens for family branches, the second level rooms are grain storage rooms, and the 3rd and 4th floor rooms are living quarters and bedrooms. The second ring of 80 rooms is 2 storey high, with 40 rooms on each level, the third ring served as community library, one storey with 32 rooms; there are 370 rooms in all. The 4th ring is a circular covered corridor surrounding the ancestral hall. If a person stay only one night in each room, it would take more than a year to go through all the rooms[4]. The ancestral hall is at the center. Chengqilou has two main gates and two side gates. 15th generation Jiang clan with 57 families and 300 people live here. At its heyday, there were more than 80 family branches lived in Chengqilou.

Chuxi Tulou cluster

Located as Yongding county Xiayang township Chuxi village. Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage site 1113-001.


The largest rotunda tulou also the oldest in this cluster, built in 1419 during the reign of Emperor Yongle Ming dynasty. It consists two concentric rings, the out ring building is 4 storey tall, with 53 rooms on each level. The outer ring has 72 staircases. The second ring is one storey building.

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