When someone says Hakka we always remember only one thing, that is, Hakka Noodles that are served in Chinese restaurants in India. But Hakka has a wider influence and it goes beyond Chinese Kitchens. In fact, Hakka in Chinese means guests and is used to refer a member of a people of SE China who migrated from the north during the 12th century. Since they were migrants, locals always called them, Hakka meaning guests or those who do not belong to that region or locality. And the architecture practiced by them is known as Hakka Architecture. And that architecture which has been in practice for more than 400 years is now dying. Today there is only one person who knows this architecture in whole of South East China. Do you know who is he is?
Yes, he is an ordinary person without any formal training in architecture. His name is Li Minghua, a 56 years old person who masters the knowledge and skills to build and fix traditional Hakka houses. He learned carpentry and craftsmanship at age of 14. It is not an exaggeration if someone says that the burden of saving and promoting the art of traditional Hakka architecture is now entirely on his shoulders.
There are about 30,000 earth buildings, dating mostly from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, in the Fujian Province, southern and eastern China. Hakka houses are typically designed for defensive purposes and consist of one entrance and no windows at ground level. The largest houses covered over 40,000-sq.m and it is not unusual to find surviving houses of over 10,000-sq.m
Hakka houses are built using local materials. The walls are made with lime, clay, and sand mixed with brown sugar, egg white, and sticky rice. After fermenting for 15 days, the materials are mixed with cobblestones and tung oil before they are rammed into thick, solid walls of the enclosures as a kind of protection against invaders while providing accommodation. Built on a base of stone, the thick walls of these unique buildings are fortified with cobblestones and wood, and their layout incorporates the tradition of feng shui.
As this Hakka architecture is unique in the world, the State Bureau of Cultural Relics of China has applied to UNESCO for the Earth buildings to be placed on the World Cultural Heritage List.