The Formation and Development of the Fujian Tulou

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


Tulou is unique among all ancient residential architecture because of its unique form, grand scale, abundant cultural intension. More and more domestic and foreign scholars are studying Tulou especially after Tulou became World Cultural Heritage in 2008. Most studies focused on the Tulou artistic value and cultural value.

However this article tries to interpret the development of traditional dwellings from another aspect. First, this paper introduces the basic information of Tulou: time of Tulou appearance, architectural image of Tulou and reasons behind the form. Second, research in different periods of Chinese historical background including politics, policies and big events. Try to find out how these factors influence the formation of Hakka culture and Tulou building. Tulou, as Chinese traditional local-style dwellings, first appeared in 11th century along with Hakka people migrating to Fujian province. Architectural style and Hakka culture reached peak in the end of the 19th century, then started to decline in 20th century. After 2008, Tulou began to restore vitality with boom in tourism industry in Fujian. During this whole period, China also suffered several different historical changes: the end of the Qing Dynasty , the Republic of China era, World War II period, civil war era, 10 years of the Great Cultural Revolution in China, the new period of reform and opening-up. So in this essay I will explore: 1. Whether the formation and development of Tulou are associated with these historical background? 2. How did these politics and policies affect Tulou development on architectural and cultural level? 3. By collecting and organizing detailed charts and data which could explain each big historical events clearly, I could use them as my research tools to analyze and come to my own conclusions. Third, the government has formulated a series of Tulou protection and redevelopment policies after it became World Cultural Heritage. The aim of policies is to realize protection and redevelopment of Tulou by developing cultural tourism industry. Taking Er'yi Tulou for example, I will detailed explain what changes happened to it because of these protection policies.

Key words: Tulou, World Cultural Heritage, Traditional dwellings, Politics, Policy


Chapter 1: Introduction-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1

1.1 Background and motivation----------------------------------------------------------------------------------1

1.2 Research goal-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1

1.3 Literature review--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1

Chapter 2: Research on the formation of Tulou--------------------------------------------------------3

2.1 The time of Tulou formation----------------------------------------------------------------------------------3

2.2 The place of Tulou formation---------------------------------------------------------------------------------3

2.3 Tulou formation of reason-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3

Chapter 3: Research on the development of the Tulou from from 1900 to 1949---------5

3.1 the condition of Tulou from 1900 to 1949----------------------------------------------------------------5

3.2 the social and historical background from 1900 to 1949-------------------------------------------6

3.3 Analyze on Tulou development according to historical and social background----------11

Chapter 4: Research on the development of Tulou from from 1949 to 2008-------------13

4.1 the condition of Tulou from 1949 to 2008--------------------------------------------------------------13

4.2 the social and historical background from 1949 to 2008-----------------------------------------13

4.3 Analyze on Tulou development according to Chinese political policy from 1949 to 2008----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17

Chapter 5: Research on the protection and redevelopment of Tulou from 2008 until now-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------20

5.1 policy of heritages protection in China and exploitation strategy of Fujian Tulou tourism-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------20

5.2 Development of Tulou Building Heritage---------------------------------------------------------------22

5.3 Factors influencing the development of Tulou tourism--------------------------------------------32

Chapter 6: Conclustion------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------36

BIBLIOGRAPHY:---- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------37

Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Background and motivation

Fujian Tulou is the unique local-style dwelling house. It has been hailed as an unique large rammed earth dwelling in the world. Tulou caused the boom of academic discussion especially after it became World Cultural Heritage Heritage. Tulou is worth researching not only because its unique form, special layout among mountains but also because it represents culture of Hakka people. Now research on aesthetic value and architectural value has been already very deep. At the same time China has never been a country lack of history. Since the appearance of Tulou until now, China has experienced vagaries of historical events and totally different styles of policies such as National Protection Movement, Warlords Wars, World War II, Great Leap Forward, Great Cultural Revolution, the reform and opening-up policy... All these policies and events have great influence on our country. So what I want to analyze is that how these historical events and policies could influent the evolution of traditional dwellings and are there any special signs left on all these dwellings belonged to history. At the same time more and more heritages became World Cultural Heritage in China. In the aspect of tourism development and heritage protection, heritage tourism industry could be a main way to protect cultural heritage, establish regional ecology and cultural environment, promote local economy. I choose Fujian Tulou, local dwellings as the object of study mainly considering the special dependent relationship between Tulou building and Hakka people. Try to explain the process of Tulou development according to historical events and policies then find a way that could match Tulou tourism development and sustainable development.

1.2 Research goal

The purpose of this paper is to study the relationship between different policies of China, historical background of China and the whole process of Tulou development as typical local dwelling house. Discuss are there any other factors could have a significant impact on the form and the fate of heritage buildings except design itself. Even in the process of heritage protection and redevelopment, which factors have the most influence. On the one hand so far domestic research of historical heritage protection and redevelopment mainly focus on famous traditional dwelling building such as Beijing Hutong, quadrangle courtyard...So I choose Fujian Tulou as my object of study in order to rich historical relics empirical cases. On the other hand, research of Tulou mainly focus on structure, local culture of Tulou. There are few research papers of Tulou buildings on policy, politics, historical background aspects. Tourism industry of historical heritage could be a way to protect and redevelop Tulou building. So this topic could also rich the content of Tulou research.

1.3 Literature review

This thesis is written using three series of research tools. The first series is that about modern history of China and Chinese architecture history. These books includes 'From the opium war to the may fourth movement' by Hu Sheng which elaborates on the entire development of China in that period. ' Modern History of China' by Lin Zengping which I used especially for writing chapter two about big events happened during that era. ' the turbulent times' by Wang Nianyi which I used for chapter three to explain influence of the Great Cultural Revolution. ' Chinese Architecture History' by Liang Sicheng which helps me better understand traditional dwellings.

The second series of books are all that about Tulou. The book I used especially for introduction and chapter two was 'Fujian Tulou' by Huang Hanmin which introduced history of Fujian Tulou in detail. 'The Living Style Chang of Eryi Tower in Hua'an Country' by Yang Lin was also used for an case study of Tulou protection and redevelopment.

The third series of research tools I used the most. These are many maps in different eras, charts and data of big historical events. These resources include maps of warlords distribution, charts of Tulou distribution, charts of Fujian development condition after the reform and opening-up policy, traffic maps of Fujian and Yongding country which is famous for Tulou in 1990,1999,2014, maps of tourist propaganda of Tulou. All these information can be used as my research tool to analyze the condition of Tulou and background of society trying to find out deep relationship between dwellings and policies.

Chapter 2: Research on the formation of Tulou

2.1 The time of Tulou formation

It is a common saying that Tulou first appeared in 11centuries. However there is no evidents (historical documents, existing buildings) to prove this speculation. According to the historical document called family tree of Guo, the first Tulou building was constructed in 1371 which is validated by historical experts and the existing oldest Tulou was in Hua'an country now called Qiyun Tulou which was recorded on the plaque in the building.[1] From 14th century, Hakka people had been modifying Tulou to make it more and more suitable for people living together according to natural environment, materials and social background.

2.2 The place of Tulou formation

Most of Tulou buildings are located in Yong Ding City according to data and literatures.[2]

Since Chinese economy mainly depended on agriculture at that time, little low and smooth lands could be used as ploughs because there are many mountains in this area. People had to use as less areas as possible to create more living spaces. Hakka people chose to live in big family groups and build higher buildings than traditional houses.( At that time, traditional houses were just two-story such as quadrangles, cave dwellings... but Tulou was more than four-story.) [3]

2.3 Tulou formation of reason

Tulou is famous for its unique roundness form. Shigeki Keiichiro, Japanese architect marveled at Tulou, said: It looks like UFO landed in the mountains. So we can see the roundness form is the mainly identity of Tulou. However, why Hakka people designed it as roundness is always questioned by tourists. The common view is that the need of defence function. However there's a lot of historical buildings in the world hadn't been designed in roundness form but they also had perfect defensive effect and survived until now. Another view is that Chinese traditional culture 'round heaven and square earth' influenced Tulou form. But it is also unconvincing, quadrangles, cave dwellings, Yunnan Yikeyin...they are not in roundness form but all derived from Chinese traditional culture. So after comparing the square building with roundness building, There are several advantages of round building: 1. corner rooms in square building have no daylight and are disturbed by stairs, no corner rooms in round building. 2. no differences between each unit in round building, it is easy for equal distribution. 3. wood components in round building are more unified. 4. construction method of roof in round building is much easier than square building. 5. round building has better earthquake resistant behavior than square building. 6. round buildings fit the shape of mountains very well, so they have broader perspective for defending. They are not only easy for constructing also save materials (materials in the mountains are quite precious).Local people made conclusions from practical work. That's why they chose round building as their home.[4] However, it is an evolutive process from square buildings to round buildings that structure and functions tended to be reasonable. Survey of Yong Ding city also proved that square Tulou buildings came out first, then after almost one century Hakka people started to build round Tulou building.[5] So we can see there's no doubt that round Tulou buildings were very likely to be the continuation of Tulou development.

[1] Huang Hanmin, Listen to the Call of 'Earth Building in Fujian', (Architectural Creation Press, 2006), p58-59.

[2] Gao Yaling, On Landscape Protection of Earthen Buildings of Ancient Villages in Fujian, (Thesis of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, 2012), p12.

[3] Ibid., p15-16.

[4] Huang Hanmin, Fujian Tulou, (Haixia literature and art Press, 2013), p56-58.

[5] Huang Hanmin, Fujian Tulou, (Haixia literature and art Press, 2013), p58.