Page 70 - SilverKris September 2014

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PHOTOS
B.SCHMID, CHRISTOPHE BOISVIEUX (CORBIS)
J O U R N A L S
discover
70 | SILVERKRIS.COM
T
owers of stone, brick
and timber rise from
the green valley and
mountains around Danba
in China’s Sichuan Province.
Locals say that they may have
been used to capture eagles
which could be trained to
hunt, or that they channelled
energy from heaven to earth.
The villages of Zhonglu
and Jiaju feature 80 of these
towers, some up to 30m tall.
The structures, 300
to 1,500 years old, were
built using sophisticated
construction techniques
for their time. Some are
star-shaped with five and 13
points – an anti-earthquake
feature also found on similar
structures in India, Iran,
Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
The towers’ origins
or purpose are not
documented, for the people
who historically populated
the tribal corridor of Sichuan
and Tibet did not have a
written language. Certain
towers resemble defensive
structures with narrow slits
for archers to shoot arrows
from. Those onmountaintops
or at valley entrances could
have guarded frontiers or
were beacon stations. Others
possibly served as way
stations along the southern
Silk Road where merchants
could keep their wares safe
from thieves.
Today, farmers use the
ground floor of some of the
towers to store equipment.
Dotted around the
landscape are farmhouses
of solid stone painted white.
The “houses had horns”,
wroteMarco Polo – who
passed through in the 13th
century – describing the
pointed finials that decorate
the corners of their roofs.
Marco Polo also observed
that the local women were
beautiful and wore turquoise
and coral ornaments woven
into their plaited hair – a
tradition that still exists
today. It’s no wonder then,
that the area is dubbed the
Valley of the Beauties.
Danba (which means
Town of Rocks) is home to
ethnic Tibetan and Qiang
people, who grow corn,
barley and wheat.
BYMARIAVISCONTI
Danba,
China
A
Mysterious
towers rise from
the landscape
around Danba.
B
A young Danba
woman in
traditional dress.
A
B