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Taoping Qiang Village

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Introdution
Taoping Qiang Village is situated in Taoping District, Li County (理县), and it is about 163 kilometers away from Chengdu. Taoping Qiang Village has the most well-preserved architectures of the Qiang People, and retains their pure and primitive cultures. Moreover, the village is the best example of Qiang-style architecture groups and it is called the "mysterious oriental castle" by experts.

History & Background
Founded in 111 BC, Taoping Qiang Village has a history of more than 2,000 years. In the Western Han Dynasty, it was called Guangrong County (广柔县), serving as an important pass and defense position. Through battles and wars, the village has still survived perfectly. Now, there are 98 households in the village.

Customs
Taoping Qiang Village seems to be the epitome of the thousand-year history of the Qiang people. The traditional habits have remained unaltered for ages, which are shown by the rural and idyllic life: from the children picking up the apples in the fields to the old men sitting at their gates dressed in the ethnic costumes, from the women embroidering to the men drinking barley wine.

Festivals
The most important festivals of the Qiang people are: Worshipping the Mountain Meeting (祭山会) (also called Climbing Around the Mountain Meeting 转山会) and Qiang Year Meeting (羌年会) (also called the New Year of Qiang 羌历年). The two festivals are held in spring and autumn respectively. In spring, the Qiang people pray for a good harvest and are thankful for the harvest their god gives them in autumn.

The two festivals are essentially connected to farming activities but are always full of a strong religious culture, which demonstrates the brilliance of the ancient culture.

Features of Architecture
Taoping Qiang Village is well known as the “mysterious oriental castle” because of its typical Qiang-style architectures and its complicated road structure. Also, it is the living fossil of the Qiang-style architectural cultures and arts which are perfectly preserved.

The Taoping Watchtowers of different heights and shapes stand in the village. They range from a few meters high to tens of meters high, and they are in the shapes of tetragons, hexagons or octagons. The architectural complex is the integration of stone towers and dwellings. They were constructed with earth, stones, hemp and wood, some of which were constructed only with earth and wood. The solidly built towers and houses are still in good condition after many earthquakes.

There are alleyways between the walls of the dwellings in the village. With some houses built over those alleyways, more alleyways have appeared, making the whole alleyway structure more complicated. Walking in the labyrinth of the alleyways, people feel themselves transcending time and space.

For the Qiang people, the building materials used are the earth and stones from the mountains and hills near the village. In general, they dig a square-shaped ditch of one or two meters in depth in the piece of ground they have chosen; next, they build the footing with big stones. Then, they use the yellow mud to cement the flagstones.

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