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Traditional Wooden Architecture of Dong Ethnic Group


The Dong is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China mainly distributed in eastern Guizhou, western Hunan, and northern Guangxi. Dong people are known for their native-bred Kam Sweet Rice and the Grand Song, which has been declared as the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. In addition, Dong people are famous for remarkable carpentry skills, through which they create the unique wooden architecture.


Drum Tower

Drum towers contains many folk customs and cultural features are the main public buildings of Dong ethnic group. Buildings in Dong villages lack encircling walls and courtyards because there are many families and village-wide activities that are carried out in the open in front of the drum towers at the village center. Traditional wooden drum towers can be divided into two kinds: pagoda types and hall types, with the former accounting for the majority. The pagoda is often found in a hexagonal or octagonal from.



According to Dong legend the drum tower was built to look like a cedar tree, and the overall outline really does look like a cedar, and embodies the concept of worshipping big trees. Inside, four big pillars stand erect, and benches between the pillars encircle the central fire-pond. The drum tower is a place where the villagers discuss public business or work out regulations or rules for township administration. Secondly drum beating can also sound the alarm for bandits or robbers. The beating is the signal for gathering and joint actions.


Wind and Rain Bridges


The wind and rain bridge, also known as the storm-proof bridge, means building a corridor on the wooden cantilever flat bridge and a bridge tower on the stone bridge pier and bridge abutment. The bridge tower looks very much like a drum tower, but its plane is only in a square or rectangular shape, not a polygonal form.


The Dong national district is crisscrossed by streams, so wind and rain bridges can be found in almost every village, among which Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge in Guangxi is the most famous one. The wind and rain bridge not only can keep out wind and rain, but also serves as a gateway to the village, and, all the more, is a place for villagers to rest and discuss matters. On grand occasions, relatives and friends from other villages come for a get-together.


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