The diaolou 碉楼, strengthened houses of villages of Kaiping (province of Guangdong), built on several floors, testifies a nice and complex fusion made of the Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms.
They are reflecting the significant part which played the emigrants of Kaiping in the development of several countries in South Asia, Australia and North America at the end of the XIXe century and the beginning of the XXe century, as well as the strong links which remained between the emigrants of Kaiping and their ancestral houses.
The site registered at the UNESCO includes four groups of diaolou, ie some 1 800 house-towers within their villages.
These sets represent the apogee of almost five centuries of construction of strengthened houses and reflect the always strong links between Kaiping and the Chinese diaspora.
There are three types of buildings: Community towers built by several families and used like temporary refuges, which are 473 today; residential towers built by rich person families at residential and defensive ends, 1 149 of them being preserved, and the towers to be on the watch, which were the last built, are 221.
Made of stones, and of ground associated with other elements and compressed, of bricks or concrete, these buildings symbolize the complexed and successful fusion of the Chinese and Western architectural styles.
The function of each floor is rational: the ground floor is intended for the breeding of the poultries; the first floor is used for the principal functions of the house, for example the rooms to be slept, the living room and the kitchen; the second is a zone intended for the secondary functions, equipped with rooms to sleep and deposits; the third is used to make dry cereals; and the fourth floor is a crowned space, especially intended to preserve the white stones, venerated by Qiang. The floor of the living room of the first floor is made of wood, with pillars which support the ceiling and help to support the higher floors; walls in wood boards separate the rooms. There is a niche crowned in the living room; it is the place where all the family offers the sacrifices. Indeed, Qiang are animists and keep also the tradition of the worship of the ancestors.
The most important place in the living room is the hearth. It is made with long stones and fire burns permanently. On this fire draws up a support with tripod where one can deposit pans and containers of water.
Harmoniously integrated in the surrounding agricultural landscape, the diaolou represent the development of local traditions - born under the Ming dynasty - of which the aim was to defend oneself against the bandits.
Edited by Liu, 01 July 2007 - 04:08 PM.