Heritage China - CNTO

China Danxia

China Danxia

Brief Description

40aBrief Description China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds influenced by endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion). The inscribed site comprises six areas found in the sub-tropical zone of south-west China. They are characterized by spectacular red cliffs and a range of erosional landforms, including dramatic natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys and waterfalls. These rugged landscapes have helped to conserve sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests, and host many species of flora and fauna, about 400 of which are considered rare or threatened. 

Danxia receives world recognition from UNESCO

BEIJING, 2010 Aug. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to include the China Danxia Landform in the World Heritage List at its 34th meeting in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, on Sunday. The addition pushed the number of China's world heritage sites to 40, including 29 cultural heritage sites, seven natural sites and four cultural and natural heritage sites. "The Danxia Landform of China" is the general name of a serial nomination for World Natural Heritages. The nomination consists of six geologically-related Danxia Landform areas, which collectively feature outstanding universal values of Danxia geomorphology in Southeast China. "It is a thorny process for the Danxia Landform to be added into UNESCO's heritage list," Wang Zhiguang, deputy director of the construction department of Central China's Hunan province, was quoted by China National Radio as saying on Monday.

"It takes time for the panels from the World Heritage Committee to accept the new idea that six well-bound areas are applying for the world heritage status together," Cai Xiangfen, deputy director of the managing committee of Mountain Longhushan in Jiangxi province, said.

The six Danxia Landform areas are: Mountain Langshan and Mountain Wanfoshan (Hunan province), Mountain Danxiashan (Guangdong province), Taining and Guanzhoushan (Fujian province), Mountain Longhushan and Guifeng (Jiangxi province), Mountain Chishui (Guizhou province), Fangyan and Mountain Jianglangshan (Zhejiang province).

Danxia Landform, a unique type of petrographic geomorphology, could be defined as "landform consisting of red bed characterized by steep cliffs". The total core area of the landform is 73,945 hectares.

Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

About Kaiping Diaolou

During the Ming Dynasty [1368-1643], the area now know as Kaiping, was badly ravaged by bandits and natural disasters, especially floods. Some villages decided to protect themselves against bandits and flood by building multi-storey towers, i.e. Diaolou. In more recent times, Diaolou became a truly standard architectural feature of the villages of Kaiping. It provided protection against bandits and flood. Although some were used as schools, or storerooms, the Diaolou’s primary purposes were housing and defence.

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The upper floors were used as residences, with the lower floors designed with defence in mind. The walls were much thicker and stronger than the walls of ordinary residences, making it impossible for bandits to break through, or set them on fire. The windows of Diaolou are, for similar reasons, smaller than those of ordinary residences, and are protected by grills of iron bars or by iron shutters. The main entrance is protected on the outside by an iron gate and on the inside by an iron door. The doors and windows could, at any moment, be shut, to make the entire Diaolou an enclosed and shut-in defensible space, able to resist any attack from the outside, even an attack with firearms. Diaolou tend to have, on the four corners of the roof terrace, constructions which jut out from the building, forming totally or partially enclosed corner turrets (note: these are called locally “Swallows’ Nests”).

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The turrets have loop-holes facing outwards and firing ports facing downwards, that could be used to fire-on enemies entering the village. In addition, further loop-holes were provided on each floor of the Diaolou, to increase the places from which those inside could attack those outside.

Some rich families, to avoid problems of bandits hiding out and waiting for the cover of darkness to attack, would go into the towers every evening. These families would improve the defence capability of the Diaolou, while at the same time, ensure that everything necessary for a convenient and comfortable life was for inside the tower. It made it suitable for everyday use.

Taking into account their facilities and use, the Kaiping Diaolou can be divided into three broad categories: communal, residential, and watch towers. 

39e1) Communal towers were built at the rear of the village they served. Every village family, or every family from a certain section of the village, would contribute funds towards the construction costs of the tower. Every contributing family would then get a tiny room inside, to use as a temporary refuge should there be a problem of bandits or flood. These towers were built defensible and strong, but simple, with few decorations. Of the three categories of Diaolou, the communal towers are the oldest. They comprise about 26% of the Kaiping Diaolou. 

2) Residential towers also tended to be built at the rear of the villages. They were built by a rich family acting on its own. They combine the two main purposes of the Diaolou - residential and defensive - in an excellent way. Such towers were spacious and lofty, with rooms that interconnect. They were fitted out in a comparatively luxurious fashion, to make them convenient as living spaces. Styles of construction of such towers are numerous, and they were built with an eye to beauty and effect with much exterior decoration. To a basic design with adequate defensibility, details are added to make a beautiful and eye-catching ensemble, making them landmarks in the village. Residential towers are the largest category of Diaolou, comprising about 62% of the Kaiping Dialou. 

3) Watch towers were mostly built at the entrances to villages or else outside the villages, on the summits of hills, or on river-banks. They were built high and slender with broad sight-lines over the adjacent countryside. Mostly they were fitted out with searchlights and warning siren systems, so that they could spot quickly and easily any irruption of bandits, and warn the nearby villages. They were a necessary defensive structure for these surrounding villages. Watch towers were the last type of tower to be built. They comprise about 12% of the Kaiping Diaolou.

39fTaking the construction materials and methods into consideration, the Kaiping Diaolou can be divided into four types: those built of stone, those built of pounded earth [pisé], those built of brick, and those built of reinforced concrete.

1) Stone towers are the least frequently found. Most were built on knolls in hilly regions. Their walls were mostly built of cut-stone laid in courses, although some were built with natural field-stones. The stones were fixed in place with lime mortar. The inner floors of such towers were made with wooden planking and timber beams with most of them having roofs of a traditional Chinese gabled form. They tend to be built in a rather crude fashion. Stone towers represent about 0.5% of the total.

2) Pounded earth [pisé] towers are found mostly in hilly areas. They are a development of the ancient Chinese construction technique using earth pounded within planked frameworks. They mostly use clay, ashes, and pebbles or gravel, with crude sugar, and glutinous rice paste, mixed together to form the construction material. All these ingredients were mixed together, to form a material which could then be used for the construction. Pounded earth towers comprise about 5.6% of the Diaolou.

3) Brick towers are found in both hilly and flat-land areas. They use three types of brick: red bricks fired from local earths in the Ming period, blue bricks fired from local earths in the Qing and early republican periods, and recently made and imported red bricks. Brick towers comprise about 13.6% of the Diaolou.

4) Reinforced concrete towers are the most common. The concrete-slabs of these Diaolou are usually reinforced with “H” shaped iron girders, or iron bars. Floors are mostly of reinforced-concrete. Kaiping Diaolou built of concrete are the most numerous, comprising 80.4% of the total. 

The early twentieth century was the peak period for construction of Kaiping Diaolou. During this period the upper parts of the Diaolou were built with rich and ostentatious decoration. People vied with each other to import construction materials from overseas to make ever more lofty towers, ever higher ceilings, ever more lavish and beautiful decorations, and ever more columns with embellished inscriptions. With every face of every tower – built different and with a careful eye to the effect produced. In the construction of the upper parts, we can find some built with verandahs, some with terraces, some with retiring-pavilions, some with domes, some again with arches or castellation – every form possible to be built in concrete can be seen.

In a few cases, the builder of a Kaiping Diaolou brought the designs back from overseas in the form of plans drawn up on paper, or they used professional architects practicing in Hong Kong or Guangzhou [Canton]. However, most of the Diaolou were designed by local builders in the villages. Overseas Chinese (see point 2.b) came home to their ancestral village with pictures, drawings, or photographs of architectural details or decorations which had caught their fancy, and these, combined with the local vernacular building traditions, formed the inspiration for the local designers. 

The building of the Kaiping Diaolou and village villas mark the earliest significant adoption of Western methods of construction, advanced constructional techniques, and building materials in Chinese farming communities.

Note: Text are cited from the Application Dossier of Kaiping Diaolou and Villages, which was presented to UNESCO's World Heritage Center in 2006

Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

37aThe Koguryo Kingdom (37 BC - AD 668.) is believed to be the longest regime founded by an ethnic minority people in northeast China and it played a big role in the development of Northeast Asia. 

Though the kingdom collapsed over 1,300 years ago, relics of the kingdom remain in good condition. They include its capital city, fortifications, royal tombs and steles in today's Ji'an City, Jilin Province and the neighboring Huanren County of Liaoning Province. 

37bKoguryo has two cities, Guonei and Wandu, which are respectively located on a plain and the nearby mountain in Ji'an City. 

Its capital was originally built in Huanren in 37 BC, then called Wunu Mountain City. In AD 3, it was moved to Ji'an, called Guonei at that time, by the second Koguryo ruler. 

Taking advantage of the local natural environment, the imperial cities developed their defense works with unique ethnic features, setting a good example in China's architectural history. 

A number of cultural relics have been unearthed from the ruins of Guonei City, which is 2,738 meters in perimeter. They include a pair of jade earrings, 20 gold-plated arrowheads and large amounts of tiles with different kinds of decorative patterns. 

The most famous relic in Ji'an is the Haotaiwang Stele inscribed with 1,775 Chinese characters, which was erected some 1,500 years ago. Experts believe it shows the impact of Chinese culture on the Koguryo, who did not have their own written language by the time. 

Wandu City, on the mountain top some 2.5 km north of Guonei City, has seven city gates, forming the main defensive system in the region. 

37cIt was built in 198 and destroyed in 342. The city had served as a garrison city and twice as the provisional capital city. 

Statistics show murals have been found in 101 ancient tombs of the Koguryo Kingdom, of which 33 are scattered in Jilin Province and 68 in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 

The murals are rich in contents, including lives of the noble families, such as feasting, dancing, drama-playing and outings. The murals were drawn on stone walls covered with lime. 

Some of the earlier murals portray palaces, water wells, soldiers, maids, cattle and dogs, flowers and grasses and the sun and the moon. 

37dWhen Buddhism was introduced into China, the designs of lotus began to appear in tomb murals. 

Archeologists believe Koguryo cultural relics are of great historical value. The unique city structure represented by Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City heavily influenced the construction of later Koguryo capitals, while the Koguryo tombs provided outstanding examples of the evolution of piled-stone and earthen tomb construction. They demonstrate human creative genius in wall paintings and architecture.

The Historic Center of Macau

The Historic Center of Macau

38a'The Historic Center of Macau' is the product of over 400 years of cultural exchange between the western world and Chinese civilization. The architectural heritage, predominantly European in nature, stands in the midst of traditional Chinese architecture in the historic settlement, providing contrast. It is the oldest, the most complete and consolidated array of European architectural legacy standing intact on Chinese territory. 

The settlement of Macau by Portuguese navigators, in the mid-16th century laid the basis for nearly five centuries of uninterrupted contact between East and West. The origins of Macau's development into an international trading port make it the single most consistent example of cultural interchange between Europe and Asia.'The Historic Center of Macau' coincides with the heart of the western settlement area, also known as the 'Christian City' in history. 

The emergence of Macau with its dual function as a gateway into China, and as China's window onto the world, reflected a relaxation of certain restrictions combined with a degree of open-mindedness that offered a creative way to supplement China's vassal-state trading system and marked a turning point in the history of both China and Europe. 

38bPeople of different nationalities came, bringing their own cultural traditions and professions, permeating the life of the city as can been seen in both intangible and tangible influences. Since the mid-16th century, Macau has developed a visible dual culture which continues even now, and this cultural accommodation is seen in the city's history, administrative structures, as well as in physical features like architecture, gardens and public spaces. 

'The Historic Center of Macau' is a living representation of the city's historic settlement, encompassing architectural legacies interwoven in the midst of the original urban fabric that includes streetscapes and piazzas, such as Barra Square, Lilau Square, St. Augustine's Square, Senado Square, Cathedral Square, St. Dominic's Square, Company of Jesus Square and Camoes Square. 

These major urban squares and streetscapes provide the linkage for a succession of over 20 monuments, including A-Ma Temple, Moorish Barracks, Mandarin's House, St. Lawrence's Church, St. Joseph's Seminary and Church, Dom Pedro V Theatre, Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, St. Augustine's Church, 'Leal Senado' Building, Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple, Holy House of Mercy, Cathedral, Lou Kau Mansion, St. Dominic's Church, Ruins of St. Paul's, Na Tcha Temple, Section of the Old City Walls, Mount Fortress, St. Anthony's Church, Casa Garden, the Protestant Cemetery and Guia Fortress (including Guia Chapel and Lighthouse). 

On July 15, 2005, the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a cultural property at the 29th session of the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Historic Monuments of Dengfeng

Historic Monuments of Dengfeng

Brief Description

Fragments of pottery vessels dating from around the year 9000 BC found at the Xianrendong (Spirit Cave) site, Wannian County, in the province of Jiangxi represent some of the earliest known Chinese ceramics. The wares were handmade by coiling and fired in bonfires. Decorations include impressed cord marks, and features produced by stamping and piercing.

The Xianrendong site was occupied from about 9000 BC to about 4000 BC. During this period two types of pottery were made. The first consisted of coarse-bodied wares possibly intended for everyday use. The second being finer, thinner-bodied wares possibly intended for ritual use or special occasions. There is archaeological evidence suggesting that at some point both types of wares were produced at the same time.

The Center of Heaven and Earth

36aBEIJING, Aug. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Shaolin Temple, the famed 1500-year-old cradle of Chinese Kung Fu and Zen Buddhism, is just one of the 11 ancient historical sites in Dengfeng of Henan Province added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites during its 34th session in Brazil Sunday morning (Beijing Time). Also known as "The Center of Heaven and Earth," the collection of monuments is a kaliedescopic testimony to the history of the middle kingdom and its scientific, religious and cultural achievements, according to Lü Wei, the director of the WorldHeritage Office of Dengfeng.

          Landscape in Dengfeng.(Photo Source: Xinhua)     

"Dengfeng was considered the center of ancient China, and therefore it served as the capital and cultural center of many dynasties. Disciples of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism based here to advance their religious cultures. Because of this historical background and architectural significance of Dengfeng, we call it 'the center of Heaven and Earth,'" said Lü. Among those listed is the Dengfeng Observatory, China's oldest and best preserved. Dating back to 13th century, the structure contains the remains of an astronomical observatory built in 1037 BC by the Duke of Zhou. Other sites registered include the Songyang Academy (484 AD), the 1,500-year-old Pagoda of Songyue Temple as well as the country's oldest existing ritual structures; three pairs of towers (Taishi, Shaoshi, and Qimu) built during the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD)

"The historical monuments of Dengfeng have passed through so many dynasties. They have witnessed the architecture changes of middle China, have the longest history, are the most diversified in style and have the richest cultural significance," Lü added.

Since 2004, the Dengfeng government has been preparing their application for World Heritage status, and in the meantime carried out many protective measures, including site improvements and implementing a monitoring system as well as passing historical protection laws and regulations…