May 26, 2012

Swallow Tails Roof in Fujian

Every where we went in search of the the Heng Hua Pioneers' original home villages we would detect here and there the remnants of old houses built in the 1800's. I was particularly interested in Qing architectural designs as I have watched so many TV drama series in the past - a luxury which I no longer indulge in these days.
And the special roofs I looked at were the swallow tail roofs.

 The swallow tails stick out on both ends of the roof. Some roofs have five parts and hence they have five pairs of swallow tails like in my photo below. Huge mansions would have many roofs. Some huge mansions cover more than 2 acres of land e.g. the size of a football field. Some could have been bigger.

I am sure many people would find these roofs interesting. However some would think that they should be demolished to make way for modern designs. While others couldn't care less. I would  think that if there are such structures around they should by all means be preserved to remind us of the past historical achievements of our ancestors. Very often "Hallmarks of excellence" have been thrown out politically but others are thrown out because of the significant land value..they could be in the way of MASS TRANSPORT SYSTEM!! or the family themselves might want to have a multi storeyed building up ...

A restored old house which still serves a good purpose like symbolizing the dignity of a nation. Preservation of old artifacts is part of one's love for our nation. Today in many parts of China people use the term "Ai Kuo" love our nation as a key term to propel development to a very high level. Landscaping and making the country side attractive with greens is also "ai kuo". Environmental movement is also "ai kuo".

I found a Taiwanese blogger Della Chung so inspired by the swallow tail roof (Lots in Taiwan)that she wrote a poem:

Green with the drip of dew and rain,

the moss address itself like art on the roof

with curved swallow tail ridge ends.



fujian has always been a wealthy province. Its history is rich and the people are forward looking. Some of the best private  Chinese homes are found in fujian in the past. The swallow tail roofs are quite well preserved by "ai kuo" developers.

In a way we as people from the Nanyang would definitely stand in awe of the elaborate roof style in Kinmen or in other  parts of the fujian province. The Qing Dynasty had only allowed higher status officials like Siew Cai (National Scholars) and temples to have this kind of roof.

I am wondering what would happen to Malaysia if Datuks and Tan Sris etc. were allowed to have one type of roof and we the commoners have ordinary roofs.


Ann said...

some of the special features should be preserved. Right now, some people are protesting, no more demolision of the Christchurch Catedral.

Daniel Yiek said...

didn't know that this was inspired by swallow's tail. ")

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yeah..if it can preserved it should be preserved...That's why we have some very good museums in the world. I read from somewhere it is cheaper to keep all the museums in the world than to build one nuclear bomb...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel...I saw the Miri temple being renovated and realised that its roof is different from the saddleback roof of the Foochow houses of China. Read up about roofs and found the swallow tail style..and of course the history...I love that bit about it being a status symbol..and how some rich people living far away from the Emperor broke the edict and built their swallow tail roofs..but I wonder if the tails would also dispel lightning since there was no lightning conductors in those days? i.e. using copper etc. in China? Wonder if some architects of Malaysia could say something about this...

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...