These masonry towers , 5 to 7 stories high, along the southern coast of Guangdong province were built as protection against marauding bandits, wardlords and pirates from south China sea. There are some 4000 towers in the Kaiping and Taishan area. Most were built between 1870 and 1930 by villagers to store their valuables during peacetime and used as refuges during raids.

Often they were financed by Chinese living abroad with family members at home, constructing the towers to garner local respect and prestige. The location of the towers in the landscape is cosmologically significant. Earlier towers were communally owned by the village and usually located near the entry to the village. Privately owned towers came later and were located among other houses.