Earthen Houses (Tulou), Fujian Province

Proposed World Heritage Classification: Cultural Site
West Fujian Province

Earthen houses represent a vernacular architecture specific to Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong provinces following the flow of the Hakka people from central China to the South. As most Hakka resided in mountains, communal houses made of compacted earth were built to provide protection against bandits and wild animals. The older examples of this style of construction consist of interior buildings enclosed by huge peripheral ones holding hundreds of rooms and dwellers. With all the halls, storehouses, wells and bedrooms inside, the huge towerlike building functions almost as a small fortified city. Earthen houses are made of earth, stone, bamboo and wood, all readily available materials. After constructing the walls with rammed earth, branches, strips of wood and bamboo chips were laid in the wall as "bones" to reinforce it. The end result is a well lit, well-ventilated, windproof, quakeproof building that is warm in winter and cool in summer.

Over twenty thousand of these houses still stand today, ten of which are over 600 years old. The oldest one, “Fu Xing Lou” in Hu Le town, was constructed over 1,200 years ago and is regarded as a “living fossil” of the construction style of central China. The tulou located at the border of Yongding County and Nanjing County is the perfect example of this style of construction and it is here that there are most earthen houses. Most of the nominated properties are located in this area.

Outstanding Feature: Representative of a unique style of Chinese communal architecture


The Main Scenic Spots:

Yongding County, Long Yan City

Yongding County is located in the mountainous area of the Longyan City jurisdiction, in the western part of Fujian Province. There are many architectural designs of tulou in this area with a well-concentrated distribution of clusters. The most common designs are rectangular, round, triangular, pentagonal and octagonal. Other designs also include D-shaped and 日(the Chinese character for “sun”).

Individual Tulou:

 • Yongkanglou

Yongkanglou is located in Xia Village between Chuxi and Xiayang Town. It is an impressive building with white plastered external walls and an elegant interior with painted beams and carved pillars.

• Yanxianglou

Built during the Qing Dynasty and located in Nanxi. It is referred to as Fengzhi Dafu after an ancestor was bestowed with the honorary title of “honest man”. The interior has a luxurious layout and scholarly atmosphere, and the gate and fence were designed to imitate a dragon’s head and body.


• Zhenfulou

Zhenfu Tower is now a tulou museum owned by the county government, exhibiting designs, historical records and other relevant information.

• Huanjilou

Huanjilou was built in 1693, the 32nd year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign during the Qing Dynasty. In 1918 it withstood an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale and was used as the base by the Red Army of China. Due to its connections with the Red Army, the Earth House bombed during attacks by the Kuomintang. However, water from the moat near the gate extinguished the fire. A unique feature of this Earth House is the echo effect that reverberates around the building.


Tulou clusters:

• Chuxi Tulou

The Chuxi Tulou cluster includes five large circular buildings and ten rectangular buildings. All building names share the common word “Qing”, meaning “celebration” (such as Jiqinglu and Shengqinglu), which reflects the hospitable nature of the Hakka people.

Xhuxi Tulou

• Gaobei Tulou

Gaobei Tulou is located in Gaobei village, and includes the following structures:


Chengqilou: The biggest tulou in Yongding County following a very classical design with a large central hall.

Qiaofulou: Stands beside Chengqilou and houses the Yongding Tulou Cultural Museum, exhibiting building designs of historical value, and cultural artefacts. Wuyunlou: Built during the reign of Emperor Wanli in the Ming Dynasty over five hundred years ago, this is one of the oldest known earthen houses and is still occupied by people.

• Hongkeng Tulou

Hongkeng Tulou, located in Hukeng town, is the most concentrated of all earthen house clusters. Some of the house designs are unique, including the Zhenchenglou, Fuyulu (“Five-Phoenix House”) Kuijulou, and Rushenglou.

Nanjing County, Zhangzhou City

Nanjing County is located southeast of Yongding County, in the jurisdiction of Zhangzhou City. The Tianluokeng Tulou and Hekeng Tulou are the most classical designs.

Individual Tulou:

Huaiyuanlou, Heguilou

Tulou clusters:

Inside of Earthen House

 • Tianluokeng Tulou

This remote tulou cluster is located in Shangban Village, Shuyang Town. It is composed primarily of four round and one rectangular earthen houses, although some less prominent houses are oval-shaped.

• Hekeng Tulou

Located in Hekeng Village, Shuyang Town, this extremely extensive and impressive cluster consists of 27 earthen houses.


Hua’an County, Zhangzhou City

Individual Tulou:

Tulou cluster:
 Dadi Tulou

Fuyu Lou