Hakka heritage stages a show of force

Updated: 2011-02-11 07:47

By Mu Qian (China Daily)

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Hakka heritage stages a show of force

Verve of Tulou features life in tulou and the Hakka culture of Fujian province. Provided to China Daily

Since the tulou - the earthen communal houses of the Hakka people - were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008, they have become iconic attractions of Southeast China's Fujian province.

Those who aren't able to visit can still come to understand and appreciate its cultural essence through the stage show Verve of Tulou, created and performed by artists from Fujian's Yongding county.

The Hakka built the province's tulou between the 15th and the 20th centuries. The Hakka people is said to have migrated as war refugees from Central China. Yongding, which hosts 20,000 of the structures, has since come to be known as the "hometown of tulou".

Characterized by their circular - occasionally square - floor plans, tulou are usually several stories high and face inward toward a central courtyard.

A tulou is usually home to a single extended family, or clan, which may number up to 800 individuals.

The buildings are accessed through a single entrance and have no windows facing the outside on the ground level - security measures to keep out bandits.

According to UNESCO's description of tulou, "they stand as exceptional examples of a building tradition that exemplify a particular type of communal living, as well as a type of structure built for communal defense. They are an outstanding example of human settlement that harmoniously blends with their environment."

This is the essence that is captured in the presentation of tulou and Hakka culture in Verve of Tulou.

The show also portrays the development of the tulou and the Hakka migration that brought them to Yongding.

The five acts that present about a dozen Hakka songs and dances, and feature traditional attire, offer a holistic presentation of life in the county.

Hakka heritage stages a show of force

It also conveys the story of the Hakka diaspora overseas.

After their migration to Central China, many Hakka emigrated across the globe, with most moving to Southeast Asia, North America and Europe. This chapter of their legacy is represented in the show's Overseas Traces act.

Since its 2009 premier, Verve of Tulou has toured the provincial capital Fuzhou and Xiamen city, and has also been staged in Taiwan, where it aroused powerful feelings of nostalgia among the many Hakka residents.


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