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Weiwu in Southern Jiangxi Province


The distinctive "tulou", or "earthen buildings", of Yongding in Fujian province made the list - its unusual historical structures were included in UNESCO's just-released World Cultural Heritage list. In the bordering Jiangxi Province, there exist equally excellent, yet lesser-known, examples of similar "Hakka" residential architecture.

One ideal destination is Longnan county, a verdant and scenic region in the south of Jiangxi province, located in the heart of the area inhabited by the distinctive Hakka peoples.

The Hakka, or Kejia in Mandarin, are a subgroup of the Han Chinese people who live primarily in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian. Their ancestors settled there centuries ago, often to escape wars, natural disasters and severe persecution in their homelands in central China.

The name Hakka means "guests". Today Hakka communities are scattered all over the world.

The Hakka culture is especially famous for the unique architecture of its ancient residential buildings. The homes in Longnan, called "weiwu" or "wei," are usually taller and more rectangular in shape than similar structures in Yongding, the UNESCO heritage-site.

More than 500 Hakka weiwu are scattered across southern Jiangxi, with some 370 found in Longnan. The country is aptly known as "the land of Hakka weiwu".

First built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the fortified houses in Longnan were designed to allow residents to defend themselves in the event of wars and frequent clan conflicts.

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