Excerpt from Encyclopedia of diasporas By Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember, Ian A. Skoggard, Human Relations Area Files, inc
…There are other architectural variants that perform similar functions. as the earth house, such as the circled dragon house (weilong wu), common to Meizhou prefecture.. These enclosed, walled structures are semicircular, sometimes with the other half of the circle containing a large, artificially constructed fish pond. Built inside the enclosed ,half-circle are three halls that serve as common spaces for ritual and other lineage activities, with the top hall containing the ancestral shrine of the lineage, As opposed to the earth house, which was expanded vertically, walled dragon houses were expanded outward in a series of concentric half-circle rings, with unroofed stone pathways separating the circles.
…. The talk last Sunday was focused on dwellings of the Hakka in the Meizhou – 梅州- County in particular, and their earth made dwellings are known as – 围龙屋- Wei Long Wu – or literary translated as Dragon encompassed dwelling – a sort of a semi-circular complex of linked rooms build against a slope.
Unlike the circular earth dwelling of the Hakka living in Yongding County – 永定县- the speaker hypothesized that the Wei Long Wu – 围龙屋 – might not be build with the same intent on heavy defense, as it was not fortified in the same manner. The whole complex of the – Wei Long Wu – 围龙屋- is fairly open with multiple free gateways and passage ways thro the building.
Its primary purpose was to facilitate communal living and with a heavy dose of fung sui – 风水－ the geomancy of wind and water – the relation between environment and man – influencing its planning. The building complex has a semi-circular elevated sloping gound in the inner part of the building behind the main hall – an open air enclosure known as – huatai – 化胎. This structure is supposedly to represent the female womb and genders fertility to the occupants in begetting plenty of children.
What is so unique about the Wei Long Wu – 围龙屋- is that the dwelling of the living and the grave of the ancestors are design on the same formation and plan. It would be akin to the Egyptian Pharaohs building their palaces in the same architectural concept and style as their pyramid. However, it is the dwelling of the living that came about first that influences the style of the graves.
The visit to the ancestral village – Songkou – 松口 镇 － Meixian County -梅县
Well, that was 10 years ago in the throe of the Asian financial storm in the December of 1997. It was also the year of the bird flu scare in Hong Kong and south China.
The ancestral home in Songkou is build on a – Wei Long Wu- architectural concept – albeit on a much modest scale. Another unique feature of the – Wei Long Wu – which is a must have – is a semi circular pond in front of the house. It serves as a source for rearing fishes, water to put off fire and of providing a cooling effect to the environment.
Well , water brings good luck and fortune too, and the pond serves in the similar fung sui function as the – aquarium or the little water fountain that one often sees in modern offices and homes in the city….
Walkthrough video the building