ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hakka Tulou in Fujian Province, China

Updated on November 24, 2010

The Hakka Tulou villages peppering the landscape in southern Fujian province offer an interesting insight into a particular subculture in China.  The Hakka (Kejia) people are Han Chinese, though some mistake them for a minority group, due to the notion that they have kept themselves separate from the cultures surrounding them.  

The tulou structures spread across the lush hills of southern Fujian are remarkable for the unique architecture.  The countryside is often breathtakingly beautiful, and driving over a hill to be greeted by a cluster of these round buildings is really an amazing experience.

A Brief History of the Hakka in China

The Hakka are a group that migrated from central China to the south toward the end of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). They left their home in central China in three main movements, due to natural disaster and famine, political upheaval, and invasion from northern enemies. As they settled into their new homes to the south, they maintained much of their own culture, and continued to speak their own language, eventually causing them to become known as the "guests" (客家人, Kejia ren — Hakka in their own dialect). There are pockets of Hakkas spread all over southern China (and Southeast Asia as well), with nearly 60% of China's Hakka population said to be located in Guangdong Province. Even so, the Changting region in Fujian province has come to be known as the center of Hakka culture, largely due to the tulou settlements there.

While the Hakka people were known to maintain a distinctive culture and language even many centuries after settling into their new homes, it is interesting to note that there are several groups of Hakka. Each has a slightly different version of the language, and there are variations within cultural practices of the Hakka from region to region in China (and even from town to town in some parts of China and Southeast Asia). So, while they have remained separate, there is still some evidence of the influence of the region within the various groups.

Whatever influences may have crept in from the cultures of the places into which the Hakka people settled, they still hold an intense loyalty to the Hakka clan itself. When meeting a fellow Hakka, it is typical to greet them as "of my own people," even if they come from a different thread of the Hakka tribe. This loyalty within the clan played a significant part in the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864), in which large numbers of Hakka followed the dynamic (and at least somewhat deranged) leader Hong Xiuquan, a fellow Hakka.

Fujian's Earth Buildings

The Hakka who settled in Fujian province in southeastern China built an amazing series of "earth buildings" (土楼,tulou). These tulou are round structures, usually standing in clusters of five buildings, with one standing in the middle, and the other four surrounding it. This layout is often referred to as "4 dishes and a soup," because when seen from above, it looks like dishes laid on a table.

The round structure of the tulou is designed for defense. With thick earthen walls upheld by wooden braces, the tulou stands from 3 to 5 stories high. Each building only has one entrance, a wooden door reinforced by iron. The larger structures can house up to 80 families.

Hakka tulou villages can be found in various parts of Southern Fujian, mainly clustered in Nanjing County, spread in villages along the Jiulong River, including Shuyang, Meiling, Chuangchang, Nankeng, Kuiyang, and Hexi. The group of tulous at Yongding is one of the biggest and best preserved.

There are more than 20,000 tulous in Southern Fujian, with the oldest being more than 700 years old. No one knows exactly when the first tulou was built, but those that remain today bear testament to the intriguing tale of a group who has refused to let go of its own cultural identity, choosing to remain forever known as guests.

© 2010 Shelly Bryant
photos courtesy of Samuel Chong


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Shelly Bryant profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelly Bryant 

      9 years ago from Singapore and/or Shanghai

      Thanks, china man.

      I've been to Wuyishan before. Is your partner from that area?

      Fujian is a nice place. The weather is so pleasant, the landscape so pretty, and the food is good too.

      I got to visit my godchildren's "lao jia" while in Fujian, traveling with them, their mother, aunt, and grandmother. It was really nice to do so. One of their relatives said he thought I was the first "lao wai" to visit the village, which is kind of funny to think of. It is a little village on the coast near Putian, a couple of hours' drive from Fuzhou.

    • profile image

      china man 

      9 years ago

      Very interesting and informative - next time I am in Fujian I will be sure to look them up. My partner is from the north of Fujian and she is "She" people (pronounced shur), we also plan to find the village of her grandparents and can do both. Good hub and nicely written.

    • Shelly Bryant profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelly Bryant 

      9 years ago from Singapore and/or Shanghai

      I enjoyed writing it up, too.

      Thanks for reading, and for the comment.

    • earnestshub profile image


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Fascinating information that is new to me about China. Thank you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)