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Ming Village Fortress
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The tunpu (village fortress) in Anshun, Guizhou, was built in the Ming Dynasty for military use. Today, it retains its original style and pace of life.



The tunpu (village fortress) in Anshun, Guizhou, was built in the Ming Dynasty for military use. Today, it retains its original style and pace of life.




Originally constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as fortresses, tunpus, echo a certain military function.


When the first Ming emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang, came to power, the army and locals in Anshun constructed villages as military sites. Each village included forts, sentries and toll gates.


In those days, soldiers spent most of their days working as farmers. It was only in times of war that they were called to unify and repel an enemy. People living in the tunpus were forbidden to marry people of other ancestries. Even after the passage of hundreds of years, residents of the tunpu retain their traditional Ming lifestyles, clothing and hair styles.




Main tunpu


Tianlong tunpu


The most popular destination for tunpu tourists in Anshun is Tianlong tunpu. Since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Tianlong has been the tunpu with the most armies and post houses.


A Ming-style teahouse is located at the entrance of the village. Waitresses there dress in Fengyang Han clothes, a style of clothing which originated in the Ming period, and is named after Zhu Yuanzhang's hometown, Fengyang County, Anhui. A performance hall is lcated behind the teahouse. Visitors can see local performances there.



Entering the lanes of the village, you will see barracks. Jiudaokan Lane is typical of the village, because it crosses through a narrow, low gate porch with fire holes along the walls.


The mountains around the Tianlong tunpu are almost an archive of historical buildings. Ancient ramparts and the castle-style Wulong Temple are all national cultural relics. A Ming-era factory where soldiers produced weapons is in the rear of the mountain. Beacon towers, battlements and sentry posts dot the landscape.


Yunfeng Tunpu


Yunfeng tunpu is the most complete military defense post, built with stone gates and towers.


Yunshan tun is one of the spots. It is located in the canyons of the Yunjiu Mountain. The only way into the village is a twisting, stony stairway. Long walls were built besides the gate to connect it into the cliffs of the mountain.


A stony main street crosses the village from east to west. There are drama stages, a temple to the God of Wealth, ancestral temples and traditional Chinese medicine stores.


Residences and blockhouses are connected by twisting lanes and built into the mountain. The tunpu is built to be an ironclad defense.




Spots to see


Drama stage


The remains of the Jiangnan drama stage lie alongside Donghua Street in Yunshantun tunpu. It is the widest point along the street. There used to be a couplet hanging on both sides of the stage which said, "People's lives are changeab, and everyone's life, no matter who you are, is like a rama."The stage is mainly for festive lantern operas, as well as for chuanju, or Chuan Opera. Locals often invite Chuan opera troupes to perform for a month or two in the village.



Tunpu museum


The Tunpu Museum opened last May. It houses materials, pictures and items to teach visitors about traditional tunpu culture, including folk culture, clothes, food, architecture and tools.


Folk art - Dixi (earth opera)Dixi is a kind of open-air performance enjoyed by the tunpu dwellers. Performers sing, recite, act and fight. Most of the popular operas are about historical stories set before Ming Dynasty, like wars between Chu and Han, the Three Kingdoms period and Fengshen Yanyi, a Ming novel about the battle of celestial beings to seal away evil.


The masks used in Dixi are typical of folk art in central Guizhou. Performers wear the masks on their foreheads, and dress in long gowns and battle skirts, with flags on their backs and weapons in their hands.


Dixi is considered a living fossil of Chinese opera, and has been performed in foreign countries including France, Spain and Japan. There are more than 300 Dixi troupes in Anshun.


What to eat


The tunpu boast a great assortment of truly traditional foods. People eat ciba, gaoba and baoguba made of sticky rice, their main staple. Non-staple foods include preserved ham, sausage, bloodcurd, dried, salty vegetables and dried fermented soybeans. All the foods are perfect for long-term storage.


The food traditions of the tunpu originate from army cooking. Soldiers lived a turbulent life, and it was inconvenient for them to cook. Instead, they salted and smoked vegetables for storage.



Where to stay


There are no hostels in most of the tunpu. Your best bet is to live in Guiyang, capital city of Guizhou, which is not far from the tunpu.


Guizhou Shengfeng Hotel (five star)


Address:No 69, Shenqi Lu, Nanming District

Tel: 0851-5568 888

Price: 540 yuan


Guiyang Lihao Hotel (four star)


Address:No 115, Ruijin Bei Lu

Tel: 0851-6521 888

Price: 398 yuan


Guiyang Ruijin Hotel (three star)


Address: No 62, Ruijin Nan Lu

Tel: 0851-5209 999

Price: 186 yuan


Getting to the tunpu


Most tourists travel to the tunpu from Guiyang. The bus and railway station has buses to Anshun. A ticket is 15 yuan, and it takes about two hours.


In Anshun, take a bus from the stadium stop to Qiyanqiao Town. A ticket will cost about two to three yuan. Qiyanqiao Town has tractors to take visitors to see the Yunshantun tunpu.


To reach the Tianlong tunpu, first take a bus at the stadium stop in Guiyang to Anshun Nan Station. The ticket price is 25 yuan. Next, take a bus to Tianlonglukou for 5.5 yuan.


(Beijing Today April 6, 2007)


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