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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

The symbols of the Dong minority

By Teng Mu

September 12

Dong culture sings of a people whose towering heritage forms a bridge between their history and native land.

Dong culture sings of a people whose towering heritage forms a bridge between their history and native land.

Songs, towers and bridges — the three symbols of the Dong minority who live mainly in Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan — are iconic because of their long history and uniqueness.

Drum Towers

The drum tower among the Dong village [Image Credit: people.com.cn]
The drum tower among the Dong village [Image Credit: people.com.cn]
When you enter a Dong village, the first thing you will notice is a tall drum tower. Made of wood and fixed by chocks, they go anywhere from 3 to 13 layers and are quadrilateral, hexagonal or octagonal in shape. The wooden tiles are carved or painted with landscapes, flowers, dragons and figures in ancient costumes. Drum towers symbolize peace and good luck for the Dong people and whenever an important event occurs the village leader will climb atop the tower to beat the drum, summoning the villagers.

Wind-Rain Bridges

The wind-rain bridge [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Zichuang]
The wind-rain bridge [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Zichuang]
Wind-rain bridges are a unique kind of bridge for both walking and lounging during inclement weather. Made of wood, the architecture embodies Dong people’s craftsmanship and symbolizes their wishes for good harvests. Nowadays, the wind-rain bridges have become popular meeting spots for young couples.

Dong Minority Chorus

Dong Minority Chorus [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Zhaofu]
Dong Minority Chorus [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Zhaofu]
Listed as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage, Dong minority singing is different from other folk songs in tonality and singing skills. Dong choruses are led by a single voice followed by many high- and low-pitched singers. Dong people love singing and are taught to sing the chorus from a young age. Dong choruses are not only a musical form, but play an important role in passing on Dong culture.

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