Behind these walls

Updated: 2013-09-04 10:40

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

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Behind these walls

Inside of the Yanyi Enclosed House at Yangcun township in Longnan county, Jiangxi province.[Photo/Provided to China Daily]

Behind these walls

The Guanxi New Enclosed House is a fine example of enclosed houses in Jiangxi province.[Photo/Provided to China Daily]


Enclosed houses, which are mini-fortresses built in southern Jiangxi province, are architectural treasures that are invaluable to historians studying the lives of the Hakka people. Zhang Zixuan reports.

Dubbed the "Ancient Roman Castles of the Orient", more than 600 enclosed houses in southern Jiangxi province still stand today, testament to the history of the Hakka people, who migrated here from Central China and built these mini-fortresses to defend themselves against local outlaws.

First built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and improved on in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the enclosed houses are boxed in and well protected by triangular fence walls.

Behind these walls

The Hakka enclosed houses are spread among several counties in Jiangxi's Ganzhou. There are 376 enclosed houses scattered in Longnan county, which feature the most diverse range of shapes.

The Guanxi New Enclosed House, for example, is the biggest, most versatile and best preserved among the 27 enclosed houses in Longnan county's Guanxi township.

Constructed between 1798 and 1827, the 7,700-square-meter rectangular complex belonged to Xu Mingjun, a Hakka merchant originally from Shandong province who ran a lumber business during the Qing Dynasty.

The building is nothing like the local buildings in southern Jiangxi province. The rectangular house is built adhering to the same principles as houses built in the Central Plains area, where the Xu family was originally from.

At the center is the ancestral hall, which divides the symmetrical left and right sides of the building.

The lower, middle and upper halls were used by the landlord and servants for a variety of functions. There are also guest rooms and a family-owned theater.

Behind these walls

Behind these walls

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