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This is What an Ancient Chinese Anti-Theft Alarm System Looks Like

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAH5rhfaHGI?rel=0]
Ever wonder how the ancient Chinese kept intruders out of their home? This was one way.

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I walked into the courtyard of a historic house in Pubian Village on Kinmen Island with a historian who started pointing out the peculiar aspects of the architecture. It was an old East/ West hybrid house, a peculiar architectural style that is unique to the Kinmen area. But my attention was captured by something else: an assemblage of curved terracotta pieces that were artfully assembled into a row of triangles along the top of the property’s stone wall.

“What are those clay triangles for?” I asked.

“It’s to keep thieves away,” I was told. “It’s kind of like an old anti-theft alarm. If someone tries to climb over the wall they will break the ceramic, and it will make a loud noise and the people inside will hear.”

The ceramic tiles are too frail to support the weight of a human, so if someone was to grab onto them or try to climb on them they will shatter. Apparently, the sound of this is loud enough to work as an alarm.

ancient Chinese anti-theft alarm


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Filed under: History, Kinmen, Tools

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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