Guizhou's Dong Ethnic Minority Group

Guizhou is home to dozens of ethnic minority groups. The Dong ethnic minority group is one of Guizhou's largest minority groups. There are over two and a half million Dong people in China. The Dong minority was first established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Dong people are primarily farmers and they are famous for their architecture and for the spinning and embroidering are done by the Dong women. They live in villages constructed of wooden buildings which are watched over by the Dong drum towers.

A traditional village of Dong minorityA traditional village of Dong minority

The Dong people are proud, and rightly so of their unique architecture. Their buildings have foundations of stone with wooden upper-structures topped off with grey roof tiles. They blend beautifully into the surrounding landscape. The two best known types of structures that the Dong people build are the Wind and Rain Bridges, and Drum Towers. The Wind and Rain bridges can be found in most Dong villages. The bases of the bridges are constructed of stone and the upper part is built entirely of wood with clay tile roofs. Each Wind and Rain Bridge has kiosks on it. The number of kiosks depends on the length of the bridge. The eaves are upswept and are said by the Dong people to resemble the flapping wings of birds. The bridges were built without any kind of metal fasteners whatsoever. The individual parts of the bridges are connected by mortise and tenon joinery. The Dong Drum Towers which are usually the first thing visitors notice when approaching a Dong minority village. They are the tallest structures in the village and are multi-function. It is a place to meet and chat, hold official village meetings, and warn the village of danger. The drum towers are constructed of wood and from the outside appear to have multiple stories. Inside the tower, however, is entirely open and has a large drum placed in the center. Because of the design, when the drum is beaten, the sound can be heard for miles.

Wind and Rain Bridge built by Dong minority peopleWind and Rain Bridge built by Dong minority people

The Dong ethnic minority celebrate not only traditional Chinese festivals but festivals unique to their minority group. The Dongnian Festival is held on the first day of the eleventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar. It is a harvest celebration. Traditionally families get together to celebrate the bringing in of the year's harvest. They will cook chicken, pickled carp, and make Ziba which is cooked glutinous rice pounded into a paste. The New Rice Tasting Festival is held in the early summer when the first harvest of rice is brought in. Each family picks takes some of the newly harvested rice and cooks it in celebration of the harvest. In the evening, bullfights take place. The Sister's Festival is held every year on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. Married Dong women return to their parent's family and spend time with their sisters. They make Ziba together, and in the evening they return home with some of the Ziba and give it to their husband's family.

The Dong minority group makes its living by farming. They grow rice, wheat, millet, corn tobacco, and soybeans. Tea is another very important crop for Dong people. The conditions in Guizhou are ideal for growing teas and the Dong minority has their own special tea known as oil tea.  Because Guizhou has many rivers, fishing is another source of income for Dong families.

rice terraceThe Dong minority group grow rice for living

Like all of China's other minority groups, the Dong ethnic minority group has its own unique clothing. The women's clothing is made up of dark cloth with colorful accents on the hems and sleeves. Their headdresses are colorful and are usually made of silver.

The Dong ethnic minority group is just one of the many unique minority groups that can be found in Guizhou. They give visitors a chance to witness China's ancient traditions and get a better insight into Chinese people's local lives. The Dong people are extremely gracious and openly welcome visitors into their villages.

Recommended China tour with Guizhou: 

12-Day Guizhou Minority Tour with Panda & Guilin Chengdu - Leshan - Mt. Emei - Guiyang - Zhaoxing - Congjiang - Guilin - Yangshuo - Hong Kong
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