From Singapore Haw Par Villa to Chuxi Tulou in Fujian

Updated: 11 Nov 2008
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Hakka people were once guest settlers of Western Fujian and Eastern Guangdong. Hakkas are a unique ethnic group of Han Chinese originally from around the Yellow River area, who later migrated south to avoid the chaos of war centuries ago. Due to hostility towards the new immigrants, many were forced into the mountainous regions.


It was these inhospitable mountains that have forged the formidable culture of this unique Han people. They built their root on the land they chose to settle. They bound their families of grandparents, sibling and offspring and built mega dwellings, Tulou to house, encircle, and protect themselves. While they were doing this, some of them also continued to search for wealth else where outside China and brought back bacon from land afar to cherish their commune.


Many of these ancient tulou are named after famous people built by returning Hakkas.
It is this culture and traits that Hakka are so successful in many parts of the world, especially in South East Asian countries.


Stretching from Nanjing, Yongding, Longyan of Fujian to Meizhou in Guangdong, this guest settlers of the area built huge communal houses called Tulou or rammed earth buildings. They built temples, artifacts and theme parks to worship, commemorate and educate.


Singapore Haw Par Villa and its China legacy


Har Paw Villa in Singapore



Hubao Villa (Har Paw Villa) in Zhongchuan Village at Chuxi Tulou Cluster


The Hakka not only built their famous mega structures at the land they settled in Fujian and Guangdong, they also built meaningful structure where they sought wealth. Haw Par Villa in Singapore is one of them.


Built in 1937 by the Hakka entrepreneurial and charismatic Aw (Hu) Boon Haw for his brother Boon Par, Haw Par Villa is the quintessential house of Chinese folklore. Described by various visitors as "fascinating, delightful, bizarre and entertaining", Haw Par Villa is like no other place in the world.


Twenty-five clusters of original statues and figurines replicate Chinese mythology characters like the Laughing Buddha and the Fu Lu Shou (Taoist deities). A must-see exhibit is the Ten Courts of Hell, featuring the ten steps of judgment before reincarnation. Literal and leaving nothing to the imagination, the statues and sets immortalise moral values and Chinese cultural heritage for generations to come.


Haw and Par, their ascendants also built other similar mega cultural artifact at their hometown, the Zhongchuan Village. This ancient scenic spot is located at Chuxi Tulou Group, Xiayang town, Yongding county in Fujian province.


At Zhongchuan Village, you can find the stone carving of twelve animal signs erected during Ming Dynasty. This is the cultural relics that are well preserved and left behind by this powerful Aw or Hu clan. The animal sings figures with the Ming Style dressing are 2 meters high and weight about 2 tons.


Here, you can also visit the famous Hubao Villa (Haw Par Villa), the hometown version of the 2 brothers. You can learn about the grand history of various tulou and their constructs, enjoy the local customs, have a bath in the Xiayang Hot Spring, and taste the Hakka foods.


Hakka legends - Aw Boon Par (1886 - 1944) Aw Boon Haw (1884 - 1954)
"That which is derived from society, should be returned to society" Aw Boon Haw's motto 

There are many Hakka leaders both in Politics and in Business around the world.


The Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par Family Clan (The Hu Clan)


Most of the residents at Zhongchuan Village have Hu as their surname. It is this Hu clan that the two brothers have made famous outside China. Though the population of the whole village is less than 3000, the number of overseas clan members are more than 20,000. This is what Hakka people are famous for, their formidable culture which bind them together living under one roof as clan commune, sharing and educating their offspring. It is this clan communal spirit that makes them thrive under hugely diverse and adverse environments.


This is a revered ancient village of overseas Chinese hometowns much praised for its civil and military achievements. The celebrities in Zhongchuan have been received and honoured by three dynasties and five generations of leaders in China. The Queen Mother of Ci Xi met the great tin miner Hu Zichun. President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek met the patriotic leader of overseas Chinese Wu Wenhu, Chairman Mao Cedong of new China met artist Hu Yichuan, President Deng Xiaoping met diplomatic ambassador Hu Chenfang, Chairman Jiang Cemin met the News Queen Doctor Hu Xian.


The Hakka people are esteemed in academic distinction and moral behaviour and used to honouring praiseworthy descendants. The academic honour column is the product of cultural and spiritual realisation. Only these places which have famous or intellectual persons can create Academic honour columns in front of ancestral halls.


According to the primary statistics of the family tree of Zhongchuan, since Ming and Qing Dynasty, among the people whose surname is Hu, there are 5 Doctorates, 16 civil candidates, 14 military candidates, 123 Gongshen, 288 Xiucai, 564 supervisors and 108 bodyguard officers in Zhongchuan. This is regarded the evidence of civil and well-known family.


This "one family has five doctorates", "four Sima in three generations", "four masters in a house", "five professors among seven sons"...The good name is handed down from generation to generation.



Map of Zhongchuan Village, CLICK to enlarge


Famous Tulou in Zhongchuan Village


1) Fuzi Tulou


Fuzi Building, built around the year of 1735 (Yongzhen, Qing Dynasty), locates at Zhongchuan Village Xiayang Town. Fuzi building has 2 floors. Its first floor has about 40 rooms, the second floor is divided into 5 living units in 2 groups(southern and northern groups), by a T-shaped laneway which was called "Tianjie(sky street)".


It's a fantastic rectangular building, about 21.5 meters wide and 47 meters height, the layout of its building plan resemble the Chinese character "富". Fuzi Building is really a superb works of art, unique in its matchless structure, marvelous fireproofing function, beautiful layout and profound cultural significance.


2) Jiqing Tulou


Jiqinglou, the largest rotunda tulou also the oldest in this cluster with a history of 586 years, built in 1419 during the reign of Emperor Yongle Ming dynasty. It consists two concentric rings, the out ring building is 4 storey tall, with 53 rooms on each level. The outer ring has 72 staircases. The second ring is one storey building.

Actually, its rational layout and design adopt the traditional Chinese Practice of Feng Shui (Geomancy), such as the Eight Trigrams, which is described in the Book of Changes. Amazingly, without an iron nail, the Jiqing Tulou has withstood all kinds of severe weather for about 600 years together with the rammed earth wall which is 2 meters thick. Therefore, it enjoys a high historical, architectural, scientific and artistic value.


Jiqing Tulou is possessed of many favorable functions living by clansman, for safety, windproof, quakeproof, fireproof, damp proof, well-ventilated, well-lighted, instructive, warm in winter and cool in summer, with most living facilities attached to it. This one Hakka Tulou can house a small community.


Chuxi Tulou Cluster



Chuxi Tulou Cluster near Xiayang Township


To see these master works of the Hu clan, first, you need to get to Chuxi, near Hukeng Township. Zhongchuan Village belongs to this cluster of tulou in Chuxi. Chuxi Tulou Cluster is located in the Chuxi village, Xiayang Town of Yongding County in Longyan City, Fujian Province. It consists of 5 round earth buildings and 31 square earth buildings, which makes up an important part of Fujian Earth Buildings that have been recently added in the World Culture Heritage List. It is inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage site 1113-001.


Chuxi Tulou Cluster is famous for its museum. This is the Tulou cluster that houses the biggest Tulou and Hakka folk museum in China. In the most complete Hakka's folk-custom museum of China, there are more than ten thousands folk-custom cultural relics. From here, we can know about the historic origin of Tulou or earth building's construction and Hakka's folk-custom. 


How to get there



Map of Fujian Tulou Clusters, how to get to Chuxi Tulou Cluster, CLICK map to enlarge


There is no direct public transport that serves the Tulou Group in Chuxi from Xiamen. The long distant buses that connect Xiamen to Yongding drop passengers off Hukeng, the nearest junction to Chuxi. From there, you can hire a taxi or a motorbike taxi. The distance is still some over 30kms away and takes about an hour to get there.


However, if you like hassle free travel, Apple Travel can organize tour of Chuxi Tulou Group. Their experienced driver has been to this part of Tulou cluster many a time. The ideal group in a trip is between 4-6 people, and ideal length of trip is 2 days 1 night stay. Usually, the starting point of the trip is from Xiamen. Apple Travel can also organize your flights from anywhere inside or outside China.


SOURCE: Apple Travel





Apple Travel Xiamen Office (Main Office)
Address Shop 18-20,Guanren Rd (behind the Marco Polo Hotel)
361006 Xiamen,
Fujian Province, China


Reservations: (86-592) 5053122/ 5074177
Fax: (86-592) 5052948
Office Hours: Mon. - Fri. 08:30-18:00 Sat. 09:00-18:00 Sun. 13:00-18:00

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