Danba County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan is known as the “country of thousands of watchtowers”. The ancient watchtowers here are majestic and magnificent, and have survived thousands of years of wind and rain. In 2008, Tibetan watchtower construction techniques were included in the “Second Batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List”.
ancient fortress on the plateau
Danba County is located on the southeastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where there are large-scale and various types of ancient watchtowers.
The ancient watchtower is a multi-functional building. It is built at the back of the house and connected to the residential house. It is generally used to store goods and defend against bandits. It is built in the center of the village and is used to protect the village and tribes. It is built on the dangerous road (ài), and it is used to block the enemy’s attack in the war.
Ancient watchtowers are generally built at the intersection of rivers and ditches. They are narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. There are four-cornered, five-cornered, octagonal, and thirteen-cornered types, with heights ranging from 10 meters to 50 meters. Its construction history can be traced back to the Qin and Han Dynasties, mainly to protect the village from being invaded and cope with the battles between tribes. It can be described as an ancient fortress on the plateau.
stone for room
The traditional Tibetan stone masonry skills represented by the ancient watchtowers in Danba County are called “stacking stone skills”. Watchtowers, the secret of ancient watchtowers still standing after thousands of years lies in this.
So how did the local ancestors “build a stone into a room”?
It turned out that the ancient watchtowers were built by specialized Tibetan masons, and most of the materials used were locally sourced, mainly local rubble, wood and soil, but to achieve “three good”, namely: good stone quality, good wood, good soil viscosity . During the construction, the schistos were piled up layer by layer, the inner and outer walls were built with large stones, and the cores of the walls were filled with small stones. Selected pure yellow mud with strong adhesion and good toughness is mixed and poured into the stone crevices as a binder. After the yellow mud dries, the stone can be firmly glued together.
Today, the existing Tibetan watchtower construction techniques in Danba County have become a living fossil of Tibetan history and culture in the area, with unparalleled historical, cultural and scientific value. The ancient watchtower is not only a symbol and evidence of the diligence and wisdom of the local ancestors, but also a precious wealth of the Chinese nation!
Knowledge Expansion: China’s “Diaowang” – Zeng Daguan Diaoyu
Zengdaguan Watchtower is located in Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. The stone wall is 0.85 meters thick. The height of the watchtower is 49.5 meters, which is equivalent to the height of a 20-storey building. It looks thinner and narrower than ordinary ancient watchtowers. Zengdaguan Diaoyu is a wood and stone structure, with well-chosen materials, neat masonry, sharp edges and corners, and exquisite craftsmanship.