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Reed and Willow Great Wall

It is universally known that the Great Wall of China was built with rammed bricks as well as solid stones. In fact, the sections of the Great Wall located in Gansu were built with reeds and willows rammed with sand. These sections of the Great Wall are mainly located in the desert area in China, like Luobupo area in Xinjiang and Yumenguan in Gansu.

Great Wall in Gansu Province

The construction material of these sections is due to the special climate and natural condition as solid stone is very hard to find and bricks are short of earth. These areas are well known for its lack of rainfall, with an annual rainfall less than scores of millimeters and exposed rocks and sand all over the place. Hardly any plants survive out here. Those which survive in the water-rich areas are nothing but reed and willow. Because the earth out here is not fit for building the wall and it is hard to build the wall with only sand, so the border people cleverly used the natural condition out here and mixed the sand with the reed and willows while building the Great Wall.

According to observation on site, the technique of building the Great Wall with reed and willow involves: first of all, cut abundant amount of reeds and willows from where they grew; then put a layer of the reeds and willows where the Great Wall was located, and on top of the reeds and willows added the mixture of sand and stone, in repeating this way, the Great Wall was erected in the end. Every layer of the reed and willow is about 5cm and sand and stone about 20cm. If the Great Wall needed to be built about 5 meters high, it would take about 20 layers of the mixture of reed and willow as well as sand. The construction of the Great Wall was used to defend the Mongolian rivalry and to build the Great Wall in this way can also achieve the same goal. However, this kind of Great Wall is not fire-free. But fortunately, the Mongolian tribes held very dear of the rule that no one is to set fire on the grassland. According to legends, the one who set fire on the grassland would be sentenced to death in fire. This kind of unique Great Wall built with reed and willow can still be found in the deserts in China.