Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses

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Jiarong Tibetans ( Gyarong Tibetans 嘉绒藏族) are one of the branches of the ethnic Tibetans in Kham.

Kham is one of the four Tibetan traditional regions which are listed below:
1) Ngari in the far west region of Tibet
2) U-Tsang in the central region of Tibet
3) Kham in the west of Sichuan
4) Amdo in Qinghai.

Today most of the Jiarong Tibetans live in Danba (Rongtrak), Jinchuan, Xiaojin (Tsenlha), Heshui (Trochu), Ma’erkang (Barkham), Wenchuan (Lunggu) and Kangding (Dartsedo). Except for a small number of Jiarong Tibetans living nomadic lifestyle on the high plateau  ( over 2500m ), most Jiarong Tibetans are farmers doing barley farming between 1800m and 2500m with fertile land and much more temperate climate.

Jiarong Tibetans are the descendants of the locals mixed with the frontier soldiers and migrant from Tubo Kingdom (618-842 A.D.).  Over its 200 hundred years of rule, the Tubo Kingdom was engaged in expanding its territory towards the east and took up large parts of the Tang Empire. But after the collapse of Tubo Kingdom, these soldiers were unable to return home and remained in regions now known as Qinghai and Sichuan including Danba.

They have some unique ways as a separate branch of the Tibetan ethnic group distinct from other Tibetans in the aspects of  their origin, housing, clothing, dining, custom, festivals,culture and a dialect of their own.

On October 19, we visit Jiaju Tibetan Village, a typical Jiarong Tibetan village, about 10 km north of the downtown Danba. There are a slew of Jiarong Tibetan villages in the surrounding mountainous areas. Jiaju Tibetan Village (甲居藏寨) with 270 Tibetan houses is oft-lauded as the most grandeur and beautiful.

Jiaju Tibetan Village

The village cascading from the hillside of the Kapama Mountains

When first seeing the village cascading from the hillsides of the Kapama Mountains down to the bottom of the Dajin River, we are still shocked at its beauty though we already have had some anticipation of the much hyped village in advance.

Some houses are clustered and some are perched separately in the green forested hill slopes with terraced agricultural fields.

Jiarong Tibetan Stone Houses

Some houses are clustered on the hill slope.

some are perched separately on the green forested hillsides.

Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses

some are perched separately in the green forested

The stone houses clinging to the forested mountain slopes, tier above tier

Tibetan Block Houses

The stone houses clinging to the forested mountain slopes, tier above tier

These Tibetan fortress-like houses are mainly made of stone and wood. These stone houses are built using the quarried stones with a tradition of Qiang people.

The stone houses once served as a defensive strong point against any enemy,  a kind of blockhouses popular in Jianrong Tibetan villages. The traditional Tibetan blockhouse has three floors.

Jiaju Tibetan Blockhouses

The traditional Tibetan blockhouse has three floors.

The top floor is often used for storing grain, corn and hanging clothes; the middle floor are the living rooms for human beings, and the first floor is the place for livestock and fodder.

Jiarong stone houses

The top floor is often used for storing grain

Jiarong typical blockhouses are square in shape with narrow upper side and broader lower side,  a style of quadrangle dwelling houses.

The walls are made by stones, enhanced by glutinous rice and slaked lime with white and black colors.

Jiatong Tibetan homes

The walls are piled up by stones, inserted by polished glutinous rice and slaked lime.

The Jiarong Tibetan blockhouses are flat-roofed except for glorious parapets in the four corners that are sometimes adorned with prayer flags.

The four upturned eaves are representative of the four sacred mountains in Tibet.

Jiarong house parapets

The spectacular parapets of Jiarong blockhouses

The massive stone houses have upper floors accessible by ladders, the only way into the vertical construction in the past.

Jiarong male Tibetan

The massive stone houses have upper floors accessible by ladders

Jiarong Tibetan homes  are all decorated with flowers. Galsang Flower is a must for local villagers. As the legend goes, no matter who you are , if you can find the eight-petal Galsang flower, then you can find happiness.

the eight-petal Galsang flower Jiarong Tibetan Village

The eight-petal Galsang flower

Our unnamed host of the Jiarong Tibetan home we have just visited poses for us to take a picture of him who is sitting by his house overlooking the mountain slope, smoking and enjoying his bucolic life.

smoking and enjoying his bucolic life

Smoking and enjoying his bucolic life

Any questions about Danba County and Jiaju Tibetan Village, just drop a line.

Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Chengdu Tour

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