Fortress Culture


Typical Architecture in Guizhou: Fortress (Also, Tunbao or Tunpu)

by Live in Guizhou

PUBLISHED August 11, 2021 • 2 MIN READ

There are many peculiar ancient buildings in Guizhou, and one that I like very much is the fortress in Anshun. These houses are mostly characterized by their construction material – the stone. In the past, the fortress was built for military defence purpose, and all the buildings in the fortress formed part of this defence project. There are still many time – honored embrasures and fort barbettes standing in the villages.

Walk into Anshun: Fortress Culture

Anshun is 90 kilometers away from the capital city of Guiyang, and travelling between the two cities takes only half an hour with the high-speed train. Anshun is a typical karst city, known as the “City of Waterfalls”, “City of Fortress Culture”, “City of Indigo Dyeing”, “City of the West”, etc. The best- known Huangguoshu Waterfall is located in Anshun.
A special group is now living in Anshun — the fortress people. They are the descendants of the officials and businessmen that had come to the Yunnan and Guizhou provinces from Jiangnan area (the region south of the Yangtze River) during the Ming Dynasty for military or commercial reasons. Since then, over 600 years have gone by, but their language, costumes, architecture style and entertainment activities all remain unchanged. This peculiar cultural phenomenon is called the “fortress culture”. If you come to Anshun one day, I sincerely recommend you a trip to the fortress!

Dixi Opera

When in Anshun, surely you should experience the famous intangible cultural heritage here — the Dixi (Anshun Opera). Dixi performance is the most popular tourist attraction in Tianlong Fortress. The Dixi actors perform on the hour in the day and the venue is in the martial arts hall in the fortress.
Dixi is a martial opera originating from a military ritual carried out in the Ming Dynasty. The ancestors of the fortress people performed the ritual not for entertainment, but as a celebration for an expedition or as a technique to either raise the morale of the troops or to intimidate the enemies. All the plays tell heroic stories of loyal officials and patriots defending the country and are mostly performed with singing and dancing. The actors wear vivid masks and colourful dresses, carry battle flags on their back and hold halberds in their hands. With the accompaniment of a drum and a gong, the performers jump wildly and sing loudly with high-pitched voices, and the ancient battle scenes enfold before the audience.