The Dong minority group, one of the 55 Chinese ethnic minorities, mostly live around the borderlands between Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan Provinces. The numerous drum towers which are built in the center of the Dong villages are the keys to understand the culture of the Dong group. Usually, the drum tower-constructed of wood and built without nails-is the largest multi-story pagoda-like building in the village.
Of the approximately 160 drum towers which still exist in the region around Sanjiang County of Guangxi Province, the Mapang Drum Tower is the most famous. It is located in Mapang Village, 28 kilometers (over 17 miles) away from Sanjiang County. The original Mapang Drum Tower was constructed during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and over the years has been damaged by fire several times. It was rebuilt in 1943.
It is said that the drum towers in Dong villages are the key to get touch with the cultural connotation of Chinese minority. Usually, the drum tower-constructed of wood and built without nails-is the largest multi-story pagoda-like building in the village. Among these numerous significant drum towers, Mapang Drum Tower possesses the international fame for a long time. This ancient architecture was constructed during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and over the years has been damaged by fire several times. The present appearance of this site was rebuilt in 1943.
The Mapang Drum Tower possesses all the typical architectural features of Dong drum towers. The tower has nine upturned eaves, and each eave is carved with flowers, grass, fish, birds, and characters. As soon as you enter the Mapang Drum Tower, you will see four indoor pillars made of fir that extend all the way to the top floor. Surrounding the four pillars are a group of twelve mid-sized pillars symbolizing prosperity for the village during the twelve months of the year. Upstairs on the second floor, you will see the most important and precious object in the Drum Tower- a large skin drum that gives Drum Towers their name. The drum is used to summon the villagers if something urgent happens in the village.
Usually, Mapang Drum Tower is a place for villagers to get together. This is a civilized site contained the oldest culture of Mapang Village. People would like to come here for ceremonies, meetings, festival gathering as well as recreation activates. During festivals, the villagers will gather together in front of the Mapang Drum Tower, singing, dancing and performing on the lusheng, which is a reed pipe wind instrument used by the Miao, Yao, and Dong Nationalities.