Tulou roundhouse in Fujian province, China 10 Dec 2016

Posted on 10 Dec 2016
Tulou roundhouse in Fujian province, China

About this photo

The Hakka (kejia in Mandarin; literally “guest people”) are a Chinese people whose distinctive earthen houses – tulou – can be found in the borderland counties where Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian provinces meet. Communal entities, tulou are fortified against marauding bandits and generally made of compacted earth, bamboo, wood and stone. They contain many rooms on several storeys, so that several families can live together. The self-contained design is a common feature of Hakka dwellings (for example, the Hakka walled villages at Kam Tin in Hong Kong’s New Territories show these characteristics).

Tulou come in a variety of styles, and can be circular, triangular, rectangular, octagonal or other shapes. The extraordinary round earth houses range in size from the small scale (around 12 rooms) to the large (up to 72 rooms). Most are three storeys high, but the largest have up to five storeys. Some tulou stand independently, while others cluster into groups.

The roundhouses located in Hukeng near Yongding in southwest Fujian include the circular Zhenchenglou and a Five Phoenix House (Wufenglou), among others. Five Phoenix buildings tended to belong to Hakka officials and are more palatial than typical tulou.

China is a vast country and can be difficult to get around independently; Insight Guides' Best of China trip explores the unmissable sights. Talk to a local expert to plan your trip today.

About photographer

Jixin YU/Shutterstock