Tusi Chieftain Sites: Laosicheng Site, Hailongtun Site, Tang Ya Tusi Site and Rongmei Tusi Site
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
Yongshun County, Hunan Province; Zunyi City, Guizhou Province; Xianfeng County and Hefeng County, Hubei Province.
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
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) Hailongtun Site
(3) Necropolis of Tusi Yang in Bozhou
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 of Outstanding Universal Value
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.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
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.
Comparison with other similar properties
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.