WHS: Tusi Sites, China

While we’re struggling through The Great Rebranding here, let’s carry on with our China visits; today we’re skipping over to Zunyi to take a day trip out to Hailongtun Tusi Fortress, the most impressive of the three places making up the inscription for the

Tusi Sites

Hailongtun Fortress


Distributed around the mountainous areas of south-west China are the remains of tribal domains whose leaders were appointed by the central government as ‘Tusi’, hereditary rulers of their regions from the 13th to the early 20th century. This system of administrative government was aimed at unifying national administration while simultaneously allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life.

The three sites of Laosicheng, Tangya and the Hailongtun Fortress combine as a serial property to represent this system of governance. The archaeological sites and standing remains of Laosicheng Tusi Domain and Hailongtun Fortress represent domains of highest ranking Tusi; the Memorial Archway and remains of the Administration Area, boundary walls, drainage ditches and tombs at Tangya Tusi Domain represent the domain of a lower ranked Tusi.

Their combinations of local ethnic and central Chinese features exhibit an interchange of values and testify to imperial Chinese administrative methods, while retaining their association with the living cultural traditions of the ethnic minority groups represented by the cultural traditions and practices of the Tujia communities at Laosicheng…

It’s a bit of a trick to get there, because the bus from Zunyi does not leave from the main bus station, and nobody there (or anywhere in intereior China, really) speaks a word of English…

… so if you don’t have any Chinese fluency it may take a while for you to sort out that the Hailongtun “bus” is actually vans that leave from the parking lot of the gas station a block down the road whenever they’re full…

… and wind their way through half a dozen mountain villages for the next three hours until finally winding up at the site entrance. Which is an adventure in itself, actually, tourists out this way are still enough of a novelty to be the talk of the town at every stop.

But you certainly do get to work the kinks out after that — the visit consists of climbing

Hailongtun Fortress

and more climbing

Hailongtun Fortress

and more climbing

Hailongtun Fortress

until you figure they didn’t actually need walls at the top at all,

Hailongtun Fortress

because you can’t imagine how anybody could climb all that way and be in any shape whatsoever to fight defenders at the top!


p dir=”ltr”>That’s pretty much all that remains to see, the buildings inside are mostly razed to the ground and being excavated so walls and the odd tower like that lead picture are about the most impressive. But they are in an extremely scenic setting, as you can see.

So, this is definitely one for the dedicated WHS connoisseur or history geek — MTP counts only 8 visitors so far — but if you’re looking for something distinctly different from the usual China tourist circuit, Zunyi and the Hailongtun Fortress are a couple days well spent indeed!

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I go places.

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