In the early 14th century, Ming Emperor Hongwu sent detachments of troops into his empire’s west to quell truculent Miao rebels.
Their descendants still till a collection of fortified villages in west Guizhou, in many cases living in fortified towns the troops built.
🧵 1/5 https://t.co/qSi8VHpaaF
Hongwu sent troops to ‘tuntian’ 屯田 - garrison, settle and farm countryside to increase cultivation. The strategy was staple of Chinese dynasties for millennia, and later Republican and Communist governments.
Some villages like Yunshan 云山 nestle among karsts for defence. 2/5 https://t.co/1cbf6sTlYu
It was assumed the ‘tunpu’ (屯堡) villagers were ethnic minorities, until a Japanese anthropologist proved they’re a Han subgroup in late 19th century.
Tunpu villagers’ clothes, building style, and Dixi 地戏 martial opera all descend from Ming troops from the south Yangtze. 3/5 https://t.co/YqcQh7r0di
The most intact village, Benzhai 本寨, commands eight fortified hamlets across a valley east of Anshun.
Along with beautiful Ming siheyuan 四合院 mansions, the village also sports defensive diaolou 碉楼 watchtowers and walls almost 700 years old. 4/5 https://t.co/wvFJZv16Kz
Of course, they aren’t fossils - continuously inhabited for centuries, replenished with rebuilding by the Qing, Republicans and Communists (such as this school), while Cultural Revolution slogans stain walls.
And if you’re lucky, you can even get a passable Americano... 5/5 END https://t.co/9PwRSh1oHt
@thocpodcast if you ever want to go and meet some real Ming Chinese...