Dong minority is one of the Chinese ethnic groups dwelled in the boundary of Guizhou
, and Guangxi
, generally called Qiandongnan Area. Small pockets of Dong speakers are also found in northern Vietnam.
The Dong trace their origins back to about the third century BC. They speak a Thai language and have a close affinity with the Thais. Dong architecture features covered bridges and multi-story drum towers. They are part of the Sino-Tibetan Thai ethno linguistic group.
♦ Customs and Habits
The Dongs live in villages of 20-30 households located near streams. There are also large villages of 700 households. Their houses, built of fir wood, are usually two or three stories high. Those located on steep slopes or riverbanks stand on stilts; people live on the upper floors, and the ground floor is reserved for domestic animals and firewood. In the old days, landlords and rich peasants dwelled in big houses with engraved beams and painted columns. Paths inside a village are paved with gravel, and there are fishponds in most villages. One lavish feature of Dong villages are the drum towers. Meetings and celebrations are held in front of these towers, and the Dong people gather there to dance and make merry on New Year's Day. The drum tower of Gaozhen Village in Guizhou Province is especially elaborate. Standing 13 stories high, it is decorated with carved dragons, phoenixes, flowers and birds.
♦ Architectures of Dong Minority
► Wind and Rain Bridge
Equally spectacular is folk architecture that goes into the construction of bridges. Wood, stone arches, stone slabs and bamboo are all used in erecting bridges. The roofed bridges which the Dongs have dubbed "wind and rain" bridges are best-known for their unique architectural style. The Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge
in Sanjiang is 165 meters long, 10 meters across and 10 to 20 meters above the water. Roofed with tiles engraved with flowers, it has on its sides five large pagoda-like, multi-tier pavilions beautifully decorated with carvings. It is a covered walkway with railings and benches for people to sit on and enjoy the scenes around.
► Drum Tower
The towers are the most distinguishing symbol of their culture, which is why experts have chosen to call the ethnic Dong culture the "drum tower culture." See more details in Sanjiang Drum Tower
Dong Minority Food
A typical Dong diet consists mainly of rice. In the mountainous areas, glutinous rice is eaten with peppers and pickled vegetables. Home-woven cloth is used to make traditional Dong clothing; finer cloth and silks are used for decoration or for making festival costumes. Machine-woven cloth printed black and purple or blue is becoming more popular.
Dong Minority Dressing
Men usually wear short jackets with front buttons. In the mountainous localities in the south, they wear collarless skirts and turbans. The females are dressed in skirts or trousers with beautifully embroidered hems. Women wrap their legs and heads in scarves, and wear their hair in a coil.
Dong Minority Festival
Below is a list of traditional Dong festivals (Geary 2003:184-213).
► Two new year festivals
► Dong/Kam New Year
► Chinese New Year
One-day long work-related festivals, where chicken, fish, and glutinous rice are eaten.
► Sowing seeds
► Planting cotton
► Washing water buffaloes
► Eating new rice
There are a total of four different harvest festivals which last 1–3 days.
► Mid-Autumn Festival
► Pumpkin Day
► Lusheng Day
► Cultivating new land
► Commemoration of lovers killed by lightning
► Gaoba Singing Festival
► Girls' Day
► King Lin's Day - commemorates Lin Kuan, a northern Dong hero of the 1300s
► A Dianlong Day
► Jiaxu Day
► Best Weather Day - Jiang Yingfang, the "Robin Hood" of the Dong people who led a rebellion in the 1800s, is celebrated on this day.
► Tidying the graves (tomb sweeping)
► Sweet rice cakes festival
► Fireworks Day
► Dragon Boat Festival
► Zongba Festival (Zongba is a type of dumpling made from glutinous rice.)
► Bull intestines eating festival
Bullfighting is also historically popular among the Dong people (Geary 2003:199).