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Earth Buildings--1

The Yongding landscape fascinates tourists with its enchanting mountains and waters. What adds charm to the scenery is the groups of earth buildings strewed over the valley and on the riverside. The unique style of these high, heavy, unsophisticated and imposing human habitations has always been a wonder to tourists.

Most of the earth buildings are either circular or quadrangular. Many of them are a few hundred years old. the circular ones have a very special flavour. Those built in ancient times all consist of inside buildings enclosed by huge peripheral ones. Such a combined building holds hundreds of rooms and dwellers. With all the halls, storehouses, wells and bedrooms inside, the huge tower- like building is almost a small fortified city. it is well lighted, well ventilated, windproof, quakeproof, warm in winter and cool in summer. Structurally, it incorporates the merits of different dwelling houses. In these buildings one can also find cultural treasures, such as sculpture, mural paintings, antithetical couplets and work of calligraphy.

The peculiar earth buildings and the beautiful scenery have attracted scholars and tourists from home and abroad. A worldwide interest in the "earth building tour" has emerged.

Zhencheng is an important building under provincial protection. It consists of two rings, both designed according to the Eight Diagrams (eight combinations of three lines formerly used in divination). The outer ring has four storeys---kitchens on the first floor, granaries on the second, and bedrooms on the third and the fourth. Between each "diagram" is a fire wall. The meeting hall and reception rooms are in the two-storeyed inner ring, in which one hall, two wells, three gates and four stairs are reasonably designed and symmetrically located. On its sides there is a school and a garden. Admiring such structure art, a foreign expert referred to Zhencheng as "mythological architecture". In 1985, a model of Zhencheng was exhibited on an international architecture model show in Los Angeles.

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