Hakka Semi-Round House (Photograph)


This is what I describe as a ‘semi-rounded Hakka House’ designed to hold hundreds of people (in family groups), and even to accommodate livestock for long periods of time. This is basically a Hakka fort designed for defence and siege. Whereas in Fujian province (and elsewhere) the Hakka forts are fully rounded, in the Meizhou area of Eastern Guangdong, Hakka forts are semi-rounded. The rear of the structure (usually facing the base of a mountain or cliff, ect) is fully-rounded and ‘sealed-off’ so that no one can get in or get out. Natural obstructions such as mountains, hills or cliffs prevent an enemy successfully ‘massing’ and attacking the Hakka settlement from behind.  The front of the structure has multiple front doors allowing for ease of entry and exit in times of peace. However, a large moat has been dug immediately adjacent these front doors which also prevents a massed enemy directly attack the flat frontage of this building. Should Hakka people and grazing animals be caught in the open, the fact that everyone (both enemy and defender alike) must follow the edge of the moat gives a greater chance of making it to safety. The enemy will either have to traverse the deep moat, or circumnavigate its boundary whilst continuously receiving incoming fire from Hakka archers safely ensconced within the fortified structure. Should the enemy formations fall into disarray, the Hakka military (both mounted and on foot), would charge from the front of the structure and lay waste to the invaders. Sometimes a bridge-like structure could be lowered over the moat for a more efficient Hakka advance or retreat. The Hakka forts often contained extensive food and water stores prepared for emergencies and long sieges. Within the fort there is plenty of open spaces for people to move around in and animals to graze. As long as the external structures remained intact, even Hakka children could play carefree in the interior!

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