Taoping Village---Home to Qiang People

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Taoping Village, located in Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, 170 kilometers west of Chengdu, is the best-preserved village exclusively inhabited by Qiang ethnic group. Built in 111 BC, this ancient village has survived 2,000 years of erosion and stands well today. Its maze-like manner and durable architecture have earned it the moniker "the ancient castle in the East."
 
Labyrinthine arrangement
The village has eight gates and 31 interconnecting lanes leading to each household in a maze-like manner. Villagers say that during wartime periods these lanes provided a form of defense as they were used to move supplies and plan ambushes. The loopholes left in the walls along these lanes are evidence of the village's warlike history. As one senior villager recalled, "As long as there were sufficient food reserves, we could defend our village for years."
 
On a nearby mountain stand two nine-story buildings, Diaolou in Chinese. Standing 20-30 meters high averagely, Diaolou used to be of great military significance at times of war. A perfect combination of mechanics and aesthetics, Diaolou has for centuries stood firm though the region was frequently stricken by earthquakes.
 
Qiang house
The Qiang people built their homes from stone, earth and timber, judging all measurements by eye, rather than designing scientifically; yet all buildings have stood firm, straight and long. The Qiang houses usually have five stories. Livestock is kept on the first floor, and the living room, bedrooms and kitchen are on the second and the third. The fourth is used for storage and the fifth is a place of worship where white stones are arranged upon which sacrifices are offered.
 
The living room on the second floor has a wooden floor, and several wooden pillars supporting the roof. The focal point of the living room is the fireplace, made from stone slabs, where a fire burns the whole year round. The fireplace is also where family and friends gather to celebrate weddings, births and festivals.
 
Another fascinating feature of Taoping village is its complex and highly effective water supply network. Subterranean channels run beneath each street, enabling water to be fetched simply by lifting a stone slab. The sound of running water pervades, yet not a drop is in sight.
 
Qiang dress and ornamentation
Qiang people have a strong aesthetic sense, as can be seen from their daily dress and ornamentation. They sew their own garments and footwear and embroider them with various motifs. Women's wearing, from hats to shoes, is elaborately decorated with floral patterns, sometimes giving the impression that the scent of flowers emanates from the clothes.
 
Tourism information
Festivals: The Qiang New Year falls on the first day of the tenth lunar month. Celebrations last three to five days, during which sacrifices are made to the god of the heavens, the god of the mountain and the god of the village.
 
Food: Qiang people like medicinal dishes, particularly soup, that have specific functions for body organs.
 
Taboos: Qiang households should not be visited when a family member is sick, or if the wife is pregnant. Stepping over the fireplace is also a taboo.
 
Shopping: Qiang women excel at embroidery, and the embroidered wallets, handbags and local costumes make ideal souvenirs and gifts.
 

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