Dong villages are traditionally built near rivers, in the fields, or at the foot of mountains. Distinct features of many Dong villages include a giant drum tower in the middle of the village, tall ancient trees scattered around, and a roofed wooden bridge across the local river. Because they are set in the countryside with minimal destruction of nature, the surrounding is exquisite.
The Dong lodgings are primarily wooden. Throughout Sanshu, Tianzhu, and Jinping counties, most of their homes are single-story, with one entrance. This door opens to the central room, in front of which an ancestors' memorial tablet is set. The rooms on the left and right are bedrooms. One of these will contain a fire-pit, which is used for cooking or keeping warm during the winter. The top floor is used for storing grain, piling up tools, and other odds and ends. In Liping, Congjiang, Rongjiang, and some areas of Jinping, most people build larger two to three story abodes, which normally face a river or field.
Like many other minority nationalities, the Dong's privacy concept is not strong, there fore their houses are all Outward-looking. They lack encircling walls and courtyards commonly seen in residences of the Han nationality. In Dong villages, there are many contacts between families and village-wide activities, Such as song and dance celebrations, discussions of official business, group chats and day-to-day social contacts. All these activities are carried out in the open ground before the drum towers at the village center. The drum tower level ground is also called Lusheng (a weed pipe instrument) level ground, i.e. a stretch of level ground in front of the drum tower, where there is often a simple stage. The drum tower exists in each village, and in some cases, not just one. There are more than 5oo drum towers in all. "Gulou", called "tangWa" in the Dong language, is a public council hall, also called "BoShun" meaning "soul of the village".
Fir-tree shaped drum tower standing in the middle of the village.
Dong nationality drum towers can be divided into two kinds-pagoda type and hall type, with the former accounting for the majority The Zengchong Drum Tower in Congjiang of Guizhou is typical. It is also a best-shaped pagoda-type drum tower, being octagonal, 11-eaved the eave ends slightly upturned. On the top rises a multi-eaved, octagonal finial pavilion. The eave angle is more upturned, and the overall outline is changeable, beautiful in style and about 20 meters high. Dong legend has it that the drum tower was built in accordance with the sample of the "king of cedar", and the overall outline of the Dong nationality drum tower really looks like a cedar, embodying the concept of worshipping big trees. Inside, four big pillars stand erect, and benches between the pillars encircle the central fire-pond. A big drum hangs down from the top of the tower, and is beaten whenever something happens. The pagoda-type pagoda is also in a hexagonal or square form in addition to the octagonal.
The Dong ethnic group is distributed throughout the juncture of Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou Provinces. Drum towers (鼓楼 in Chinese) and storm-proof bridges containing many folk customs and cultural features are the main public buildings. 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.
Zhaoxing Drum Tower The five drum towers are the most famous tourist attractions in Zhaoxing. Each drum tower shows its unique own style and characteristics.
In the village, the drum towers are the hightest and the most respected buildings. In the past, they served as the warming device against invasions.
During the festivals and special meetings, villagers always congregate in the lower pavillions of the tower. They often gather there in the evening, dancing and listening to the traditional folk songs. Especially during the harvest period, the village is full of joyful, young people hold the festival dance surrounding the drum tower. They are honest and hospitality, and welcome the tourists to join in them.
Rentuan drum-tower with 7 stories, lies at the head of Zhaoxing and covers an area of 104 square kilometers, with the height of 18.47 meters. Runtuan drum-tower is also called“Lou Gao Zai”by the locals, that means the drum-tower as the head of the village. This is the place where the where the local Dong ethnic performances of singings and dancings will be held in the evening.
The history of Drum Towers In ancient times, Zhaoxing villagers assembled with their weapons at the tower to await orders from the head of their clan. According to the tradition of the Dong ethnic groups, each drum tower represents one group of the local people. The head of the village divided the people into five groups in order to make administration easier. The five towers seperately represents kindness, politeness, intellect, righteousness and creditworthiness.
Magnificent art of architecture The insides and outer of drum towers and covered bridges are often colorfully painted with scenes from Dong folk tales, legendary heroes, landscapes, animals and of activities such as ox-fighting and festive dancing. Aspects of daily life are likewise portrayed, such as playing musical instruments, hunting, spinning, weaving and dyeing, cooking. There are also carvings of dragons, snakes, tigers, geese, etc.
The storm-proof bridge, also called the 'gallery' or 'pavilion' 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 storm-proof bridges can be found in almost every village, and some have more than one. It 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. The whole village, dressed in their holiday best, assemble on the bridgehead to welcome the guests. They sing songs, propose toasts and dance Lusheng dances, demonstrating strong cultural customs. In selecting a site for a storm-proof bridge, great attention is paid to natural scenery, so that it can both decorate the landscape and enable visitors to enjoy the beautiful surrounding scenery.
Some drum towers neighbor storm-proof bridges, and the combination of the two enriches the village landscape, Such as the Xindi Drum Tower in Guizhou.
Hall-style drum towers are similar to ordinary halls.
The storm-proof bridge, also called gallery or pavilion 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, without a polygonal form.
The Dong national district is crisscrossed by streams, so storm-proof bridges can be found almost in every village, and some have more than one. It 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 People of the whole village in their holiday best assemble on the bridgehead to welcome the guests. They sing songs, propose toasts and dance Lusheng dances, demonstrating strong national Customs and features. In selecting a site for a storm-proof bridge, great attention is paid to natural scenery, so that it can both decorate the landscape and enable visitors to enjoy the surrounding beautiful scenery.
The largest and most famous storm-proof bridge is the Chengyang Bridge in Maan Village, Sanjiang, Guangxi, which spans the Linxi River. This is 78 meters long and consists of two platforms, three piers and five towers. The middle tower is the highest, capped by a hexagonal finial pavilion. The lower part is square, three-eaved; the left and right towers are also square, four-eaved and finial. The Outermost two towers are rectangular, four-eaved and with a Chinese-hip-and-gable roof. Under the bridge balustrade there is a long, through split eave covering the four-layer wooden cantilever beam under the bridge.
There are also some asymmetrical storm-proof bridges, Such as the Sanjiang Helong (closure or jointed) Bridge with two platforms, two piers and three towers.