The 39th session of the World Heritage Committee met in Bonn, Germany on June 28th and announced on July 4th that three of China’s Tusi heritage sites were approved to be added to the World Heritage List.
Hailongtun Feilong Pass
The above mentioned sites are the ruins of Hailongtun castle in Guizhou province, Yongshun in Hunan province and Tangya in Xianfeng County, Hubei province.
Hailongtun castle is the oldest, largest and best preserved Tusi city in China. It had served as a military citadel, government offices in feudal China and a temporary imperial palace for high-level dynastic officials visiting the region.
The Hailongtun castle is located on the top of Longyan Mountain in Guizhou province, which is surrounded by steep precipices and cliffs on the north, east and south sides and stands 1,350 meters above sea level.
The Hailongtun fortress, built in the late Southern Song Dynasty (1257), was a complete defense system built with heavy boulders and had been in service for generations, especially after a large-scale expansion by Yang Yinglong, the last Tusi of Bozhou, during the Wan Li Era of the Ming Dynasty (ca. 1595-1600). Nine entrances, wide enough for a horse to gallop through, were connected by a 10 kilometer stonewall. A suspension bridge was built outside the city gate and hung above deep trenches.
The castle includes a well-equipped architecture complex: administration offices, living quarters for the Tusi, handicraft factories, military facilities as well as water wells. Its design not only meets the purposes of military defense, but also creates convenient living for the Tusi who resided there.
The castle was almost reduced to ashes during the Pingbo battle in 1600. Although most of the wooden buildings were burnt down in wars, the surviving stone structures are well preserved and are now recognized as World Heritage sites. Little known by the outside world during Tusi’s reign, it is Guizhou’s first world cultural heritage site and the 48th in China. The recognition will attract more attention to China’s Tusi culture.