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Tusi Chieftain Sites: Laosicheng Site, Hailongtun Site, Tang Ya Tusi Site and Rongmei Tusi Site

Date de soumission : 29/01/2013
Critères: (ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Catégorie : Culturel
Soumis par :
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
Etat, province ou région :
Yongshun County, Hunan Province; Zunyi City, Guizhou Province; Xianfeng County and Hefeng County, Hubei Province.
Ref.: 5809

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Laosicheng Site: N 28°59′52.4″ , E 109°58′14.5″ .

Hailongtun: N 27°48′00″-27°49′12″ , E 106°48′19.9-106°49′48″.

Tangya Tusi Site,:N 29°41'51.01" , E 109°00'36.27" .

Rongmei Tusi Site: N 29°56'16.4" , E 110°04'27.5"

Tusi Chieftain Sites consist of Laosicheng Site in Hunan Province, Hailongtun Site in Guizhou Province, and Tangya Tusi Site and Rongmei Tusi Site in Hubei Province.

1. Laosicheng Site in Hunan Province:
Laosicheng Site is located in Sicheng Village, Lingxi Town, Yongshun County, West-Hunan Tujia and Miao Ethnic Groups Autonomous Prefectures in Hunan Province, 19.5 kilometers away from the Yongshun county Center. As the center of the base of Tusi Peng, it existed for around 600 years from the fifth year of Shaoxing Reign in Southern Song Dynasty (AD 1135) to the second year of Yongzheng Reign in Qing Dynasty (AD 1724). Consisting of Laosicheng landscape, the central site and the surrounding remains, the Site has a total area of 25 square kilometers with a core zone covering over 250,000 square meters. It is the Tusi Site that has gone through large-scale archeological excavation in an all-round way.  
(1) The Central Site
It is nestled at the foot of Simian Mountain Ridge and by Lingxi River. The property consists of various zones for different purposes, ranging from the palace, government office, judicial court, residential community, education area, burial ground to religious and ceremonial places, which stand by themselves and get connected through lanes, streets and the river. It was a fully –functioning mountain city of an appropriate layout and pleasant scenery. The property also includes many well-preserved ancient buildings such as Peng Patriarch Temple, Jade Emperor Temple (Yu Huang Ge), Wengchang Temple, and Arch of Offspring (Zi Sun Yong Xiang Pai Fang), along with the old city wall, ancient streets, drainage system and Tusi necropolis. Laosicheng Central Site was an exemplary scenic mountain city in southwest China.
(2) The Surrounding Sites
The Surrounding Site spreads along the Lingxi River, consisting of 23 spots for leisure, military and religious purposes and ancient roads linking up these spots. The leisure spots include Bihua Villa, Fishing Platform and Stone Inscriptions; the military facilities include Qingjianwan Site, Chalaoyuan Site and Xiepu Government Office; the religious buildings include the Patriarch Temple and Jade Emperor Temple and the religious sites include the Temple of Guanyin and Temple of Eight Gods. The surrounding site together with the central site embodies harmony between politics and military, between man and nature.
2. Hailongtun Site in Guizhou Province
Hailongtun Site is located in Huichuan District and Honghuagang District in Zunyi City, Guizhou Province. Zunyi used to be called Bozhou in ancient times. Since the third year of Qianfu of Tangxi Emperor (AD 876) Tusi Yang served as local rulers in Bozhou to the 28th year of Wanli Reign of the Ming Dynasty (AD 1600) when the Ming Dynasty suppressed the rebellion of Tusi Yang and put an end to Bozhou Tusi, 30 Tusi Yang for 27 generations ruled the local area for 725 years. Bozhou is the central zone of Yang’s control from the end of the Tang Dynasty to the end of Ming Dynasty, boasting rich cultural heritage. The nominated heritage includes the core elements of Tusi Yang heritage, namely, the Hailongtun Site, Yangmacheng Site and Yang Tusi Burial Site.

(1) Hailongtun Site

It is the base of Bozhou Tusi Yang in summer and a military center in wartime, located in Hailongtun Village, Gaoping Town, Huichuan District, Zunyi City, Guizhou Province, 28 kilometers away from the city downtown of Zunyi.  The  center  of the  Hailongtun  Site  is on  the  Longyan  Mountain,  the eastern  branch  of the  lofty  Dalou Mountain. As early as in Song Dynasty, Tusi Yang built a citadel in the strategic place and expanded it in later years. Up to the late Ming Dynasty, it is a massive and well-fortified mountain city comprised of inner and outer cities. The inner city is built in the mountain with stone walls by taking advantage of the steep slopes and precipices. In front of the city are three passes that of Flying Dragon, Facing the Sky and Flying Phoenix; in the back are the Wan’an Pass, West Pass and Back Pass. Inside the city are found such facilities as the old and new government offices, residences, warehouses and barracks. The outer city is a basically closed stone wall stretching from the inner city to the front of the mountain. On the east and west sides of the outer city wall are the three Passes of Bronze Pillar, Iron Pillar and Flying Tiger, among which the Pass of Flying Tiger and the 36-step Celestial Ladder in its front are extremely steep.

(2)Yangmacheng Site

Located at the hill top of Yangmacun Group, Daqiao Village, Gaoping Town 5,000 meters to the east of Hailongtun, Yangmacheng Site covers about 2 square kilometers. According to historical records, it was first built in the end of Tang Dynasty and functioned till the end of the Ming Dynasty. It is a massive city site with the remnant wall about 6,000 meters long and 3 to 6 meters high. It is surrounded by 6 stone walls and gates. Except for one archway, the other five are corbel gates, older than Hailongtun. Inside the city sites remains of large-scale structures have been found, but their architectural layout is yet to be made clear through archeological excavation. It is city with a relatively flat terrain at the foot of the mountain as compared with Hailongtun, a city in the mountain.

(3) Necropolis of Tusi Yang in Bozhou

Five burial grounds of Tusi Yang have been discovered in Bozhou, including seven identified tombs of Tusi Yang and their wives, represented by Yangcan Tomb in Pingqiao Village and Necropolis of Tusi Yang in Mingzhuang Village. Yangcan Tomb located in Huangfenzui, Pingqiao Village, Shenxi Town of Honghuagang District, Zunyi City,  is  for  the  13th    Tusi  Yang  in  Bozhou  in  southern  Song  Dynasty  Yang  Can  and  his  wife,  the  largest stone-chamber tomb found so far in southwest China. The Necropolis of Tusi Yang in Mingqiao Village crosses two ridges of Mingzhuang Village, Gaoping Town, Huichuan District, Zunyi City, consisting of the tombs of the 15th Tusi of Bozhou Yang Wen (Song Dynasty), the 22nd Tusi Yang Sheng (Ming Dynasty), the 23rd Tusi Yang Gang (Ming Dynasty), and the 25th Tusi Yang Ai (Ming Dynasty). Archeological excavation has found they are either parallel double-chamber or multi-chamber large tombs of complicated structure and exquisite carvings, embodying the evolution of sophisticated tombs in this area.

3. Rongmei Tusi Site and Tangya Tusi Site in Hubei Province

(1) Tangya Tusi Site:

Located at the Tangyasi Village, Jianshan Town, Xianfeng County, Hubei Province. Since the sixth year of Zhizheng Reign of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1346) till the 13th  Year of Yongzheng Reign in the Qing Dynasty (AD 1735), 16 generations of Tangya Tusi served as local rulers there for 389 years. With adjoining Xuanwu Mountain in the west and the Tangya River in the east, the Site covers about 750 thousand square meters, running 1,200-plus meters from east to west and 600-odd meters from south to north. It features a terrain higher in the west and lower in the east. With a symmetrical layout along the east-west axis, the site is divided into three parts: the outer city, inner city and palace city. Clear-cut function zones form a convenient traffic network, marking various zones and courtyards, featuring an overall layout of “three streets, eighteen lanes and thirty-six courtyards”.

(2) Rongmei Tusi Site:

Rongmei Tusi Site is located in Pingshan Village, Rongmei Town of Hefeng County, Hubei Province. Rongmei Tusi Tian existed for 425 years covering 15 generations of 23 Tusi, lasting from the third year of Zhida Reign in the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1310) and the 26th  Year of Zhizheng Reign of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1366) when Rongmei Tusi Tian was respectively officially appointed by the Yuan Dynasty and by the Founder of the Ming Dynasty till Rongmei Tusi  was  abolished  in  the  13th   Year  of  Yongzheng  Reign  of  the  Qing  Dynasty  (AD  1735).  Currently,  the well-preserved  sites  include  the Noble  Mansion,  Central  Mansion,  South  Mansion,  Xiliu  City, Wanquan  Cave, Wanren Cave, Qingtian Cave, Tianquanshan Fortified Village, Xipingfu Fortified Village, Water-Fortified Village, Jiufeng Bridge scattered within an area of 44 square kilometers. The Noble Mansion first built during Wanli Reign in Ming Dynasty (AD 1573-1620), with its facade facing the street, features a three-entry courtyard built with stones, connected to the reading platform, performing stage, martial art stage and dungeon on both sides, covering about 500 thousand square meters. The mansion distinguishes itself by being built on the basis of a limestone cave.

The above Tusi Sites, being outstanding examples of the Tusi cities and architectures in southwest China, took great advantage of the natural geographical conditions and landscape in site selection, planning and construction.

Justification de la Valeur Universelle Exceptionelle

Tusi Sites are a unique witness to Self-ruled Tusi system, which is a special political system adopted by feudal Chinese emperors to govern ethnic minority regions by allowing local tribal leaders to inherit the official positions of the empire. When the system was practiced, the tribal leaders in southwest China appointed as Tusi ruled their tribes on the basis of the empire’s law and proprieties as well as local customs, contributing to the distinctive Tusi political and cultural tradition. The Tusi system embodies political wisdom in handling relationships among ethnic groups in ancient China, laying a solid base for today’s China, a unified multi-ethnic country, and providing insights for the world today on the governance of the multi-ethnic society. As the result and representation of the special political system, the Tusi Sites nominated for inscription on the world heritage list witness the birth, evolution, prosperity and perishing of the Self-ruled Tusi system. The site selection and layout of Tusi buildings have distinctive characteristics. While deeply influenced by Han culture and tradition, they generally showed respect for nature and local conditions.  Most  Tusi  palaces  were  built  along  the  hillside,  mixing  with  and  taking  advantages  of  local topography by making hills the main defensive elements. The Tusi sties tactfully integrated government offices, residential quarters, military fortifications and commercial and transportation facilities into fully-functioning cities within limited space in the mountainous area. They are exceptional examples of mountain cities in ancient China, boasting outstanding universal value.

Criterion (ii): Tusi Sites came into being under the unique Self-ruled Tusi System implemented by the central regime of the ancient Chinese empire in the areas inhabited by ethnic groups in southwest China. The city planning and design of Tusi buildings generally showed respect for nature and local conditions, mixing the influences of Han culture and features unique to ethnic minorities in southwest China, and reflecting the interaction and cultural communication between Han people and ethnic groups like Tujia people and Gelao people with a long tradition.

Criterion (iii): Tusi system was a policy and instrument for the central regime of Chinese feudal empire to address the ethnic problems in southwest China. It was the rudimentary form of ethnic autonomy, an important part of Chinese ancient institutional civilization. The nominated Tusi Sites not only carry the life experience of the Tusi who exerted significant influence in Chinese history, but also witness the transformation of the ethnic policy of ancient China from self-ruled system to Tusi system and then to the bureaucratization of native officers; they are the vivid proof of Chinese ancient ethnic culture and the long-perished Tusi institutional system.

Criterion (iv): The nominated Tusi Sites are typical mountain city sites playing the double role as the regional political center and the military fortress. They are outstanding examples of mountain cities built by ancient tribal leaders in defense of their rule. By taking advantage of the topography and terrain, the mountain cities saw wonderful combination between structures and natural landscape, building up a well-rounded mountainous defense system. They reflect the perfect integration between cultural and ecological environment, and can be regarded as outstanding examples of mountain cities and architectures between the 10th and 17th centuries.

Criterion (vi): Tusi Sites bear witness to many historic events between the central regime of the Chinese feudal empire and local leaders in southwest China as well as those between southwest China, the surrounding areas, and areas of east China. The above mentioned four sites are directly related to the significant historic events, including feuding warlords’ regimes in the end of Tang Dynasty and the period of Five Dynasties, Song-Mongol War during late Song Dynasty and early Yuan Dynasty, power change during the turn of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, and Anti-Japanese War, Pingbo War in late Ming Dynasty and bureaucratization of native officers in early Qing Dynasty, shedding light on the relationship between the central regime and local rule, one of the two paramount relationships in the political system of ancient China.

Déclarations d’authenticité et/ou d’intégrité


The four nominated Tusi Sties serving respectively as the political and military centers of Yongshun Tusi, Bozhou Tusi, Tangya Tusi and Rongmei Tusi before late Qing and late Ming Dynasties remain the same sites today. And nestled deep in the mountains, they have been little affected by the outside world, with the authenticity of their locations and orientations well preserved. Archeological excavation has found the layout and structure of the abandoned city remain the same as before, and the ground building remnants as well as building materials are the same as before. The underground relics were excavated in a scientific way to avoid the least damage to the site’s original form. Thus the authenticity of the form, design, building materials and objects is ensured. As a product of Tusi system, the Tusi Sites have all along been used by Tusi before their being abandoned. After the sites were abandoned, they didn’t go for other purposes including tourism. Therefore, the authenticity of their functions is preserved.


The nominated Tusi Sites include the sites proper and their settings. Though the ground buildings in the cities mostly collapsed and ruined in fire, the structure foundations are well preserved, with the floor plan clearly seen. What is left with each Tusi Site is more than a solitary city, but comprises a complete system including the central town site, related sites, Tusi offices and Tusi tombs, citadel and the surrounding defense facilities. Military establishments of the Tusi Sites are constructed in the centers of all Tusi-ruled areas, mixing into the local terrain and topography and contributing to typical landscape cities or mountain cities. As they are located in remote areas, the Tusi Sites are little affected by urbanization and modernization, boasting of well-preserved landscape. The nominated sites inclusively contain the city structure, surrounding environment and landscape layout constituent of the Tusi heritage, and thus give a panoramic view of the political and cultural features of Tusi system and encapsulate all essential elements underscoring their outstanding universal value.

Comparaison avec d’autres biens similaires

Tusi Sites fall in the cultural heritage category of “site”, with their core value as physical evidence for the perished Tusi system. The nominated four Tusi Sites are typical and representative as compared with the other Tusi Sites in southwest China; of distinct features each yet interrelated with other sites of mountain cities in east Asia; and unique in representing special tradition and political system as compared with mountain cities and castles in Europe and America. Hence, the nominated Tusi Sties boast outstanding universal value of world heritage.

1. Comparison with Other Tusi Sites in Southwest China

1.Tusi system is a widely-practiced political system in southwest China during ancient times. There were more than 3000 Tusi at the zenith of the Tusi system during Ming Dynasty; however, most of the Tusi sites leave no trace now. Among the remaining Tusi sites, Laosicheng and Hailongtun Tusi Sites enjoy the longest history, the highest grade and the largest scale, and boast of the biggest variety of cultural heritage. Moreover, they have direct or indirect bearings on major historic events. So they are most representative of Tusi culture in southwest China.

2. Comparison with Other Mountain City Sites in East Asia

Ancient Koguryo Mountain City in China has been inscribed onto the World Heritage List.. Compared with it, the nominated Tusi Sites are also mountain cities built of stone including stone tombs, but they existed in different times and featured different cultural traditions. Compared with the Diaoyucheng in Hechuan District, Chongqing, China, the nominated Tusi Sites witnessed mountain city construction at a much earlier stage. Tusi Yang from Bozhou, the builder of Hailongtun, was the mastermind of the anti-Mongol mountain city system like Diaoyucheng. But Diaoyucheng only served as a garrison during wartime whereas Hailongtun was the long-term base of government offices of Tusi and evolved to be the local leaders’ fortress to confront the central regime of the Chinese feudal empire.

3. Comparison with Mountain City Sites in America and Europe

Among World heritage sites, Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu and Slovakia’s Spis Castle are comparable to Tusi Sites. Both located in the mountains and with stone as the main building material, the Tusi Sites and Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu both witnessed special culture and tradition that have perished. However, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu served as the venue for aristocrats to have leisure and religious activities, as is sharply different from the center for political activities and military operations as well as the important battle ground the Tusi Sites functioned as. In comparison with Slovakia’s Spis Castle, they both were citadels for military purposes established to defuse uncertain factors; they both suffered intrusion of Mongolian army; they both kept improving themselves; they both were owned by families and had close bearings on the surrounding environment; and today they both are cultural sites. But they are different in the following aspects, i.e., each Tusi site was owned by the one and sole family while Slovakia’s Spis Castle saw changes of its owner; and Tusi Sites are witness to a special political system which has little to do with Slovakia’s Spis Castle.