Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

Twenty-two new sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and one deleted during Committee meeting in Christchurch Friday, June 29, 2007

Brief Description
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages, feature the Diaolou, multi-storied defensive village houses in Kaiping, Guangdong Province, which display a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms. They reflect the significant role of émigré Kaiping people in the development of several countries in South Asia, Australasia, and North America, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the close links between overseas Kaiping and their ancestral homes. The property inscribed here consists of four groups of Diaolou, totaling some 1,800 tower houses in their village settings. They reflect the culmination of almost five centuries of tower-house building and the still strong links between Kaiping and the Chinese Diaspora. These buildings take three forms: communal towers built by several families and used as temporary refuge, of which 473 remain; residential towers built by individual rich families and used as fortified residences, of which 1,149 survive; and watch towers, the latest development, which account for 221 of the buildings. Built of stone, pise (compressed earth), brick or concrete, these buildings represent a complex and confident fusion between Chinese and western architectural styles. Retaining a harmonious relationship with the surrounding agricultural landscape, the Diaolou testify to the final flowering of local building traditions that started in the Ming period in response to local banditry.

No comments: