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At home with Hakka legacy

By Zhang Yue  (China Daily)

08:52, April 12, 2012

Zhencheng Lou, a Hakka tulou in Fujian province, was added to the World Heritage List in 2008. (Luo Shanxin / for China Daily)

Lifelong resident didn't realize his family's tulou was architectural gem

To Lin Rigeng, his house had only been a home.

Until the tourists kept showing up.

"I didn't realize that it was in fact a world historical treasure until I found more people coming to visit it," Lin said.

The building is a prime example of tulou architecture, a large circular communal building representative of Hakka culture in Fujian province.

Though there are 23,000 such buildings in Yongding county, Lin owns one of the most famous, Zhencheng Lou, also known as "The Prince of Hakka Tulou".

Lin's grandfather, who became the richest businessman in Yongding selling tobacco cutters, built the tulou in 1912. It took the family nearly five years and the equivalent of 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) today to complete the design and construction of the four-story building.

It consists of 208 rooms around a central courtyard, covering nearly 5,000 square meters.

It made the World Heritage List in 2008.

"It's one of only two structures in China following the design of the Eight Diagrams, the other being the Temple of Heaven in Beijing," said Lin, 61, proudly.

But Lin didn't know details like this back in the 1980s even though he had lived in the building since birth.

"I'm the least educated person in my family," said Lin, who only finished primary school, while his siblings are all university graduates.

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