Dao County, located in the south of Yongzhou City in Hunan Province, adjacent to Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, is an important traffic stronghold between Hunan and Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan as well as southwestern areas. It’s 170 kilometers east of Chenzhou and 180 kilometers west of Guilin. Dao County boasts a long historical standing, with a history of over 2,200 years till now. Since the year 1988, Dao County has been an advancing front for reforming and opening up of Hunan Province, playing an important role in connecting inland and coastal area.
Dao County boasts brilliant culture, with national key cultural relic protection units. The unearthed rice remains and pieces of Chinese pottery with a history of over 12,000 years were listed as one of the state’s top ten archaeological discoveries in 1995. Dao County is a remarkable place propitious for giving birth to great men, such as the famous thinker of the Song Dynasty, Zhou Dunyi, the great calligrapher of the Qing Dynasty, He Shaoji and the great revolutionist of modern times, He Baozhen. There left a number of sagas of revolutionary martyrs. In 2008, Dao County was classified as the Old Revolutionary Base.
Dao County boasts abundant natural and cultural tourism resources, such as Dupangling national nature reserve, Xiangyuan Hot Spring Ecological Scenic Spot, Yueyan Scenic Area, four peculiarities and eight scenic spots. Dao County also has plentiful specialties, include oranges with the reputation of the best oranges under heaven, red melon seeds that are in active demand even in Southeast Asia, grey goose with top band-name and high quality and Mangnolia officinalis that are famous all over the country.
Local customs and practices
Though Dao County is only a small county in Hunan, dragon boat races held annually are characteristic and very impressive. The first day of the fifth lunar month each year is a grand celebration day for the local residents of Dao County when the grand dragon boat race is held. Most of the participants are farmers. In Dao County, dragon boat race is more of a culture compared with a folk custom.
During a dragon boat race, in the first place, a “dragon head” should be chosen. The “dragon head” is the person on the bow who commands and controls the direction of the dragon boat, encouraging .companions simultaneously. He is the leader of all the persons in the boat and in charge of their diet and accommodation. The person who can be the “dragon head” is strictly selected. Generally, the boatmen in the same boat are of the same clan. The “dragon head” doesn’t need to be the richest man of the clan, but he must be the most prestigious one. Secondly, stealing keels is an indispensable step. The keel is namely a splat under the dragon boat used for scratching up the dragon boat. It is said that the speed of a dragon boat depends on the quality of its keel. People get the keel by the means of stealing because they think that the dragon boat made by the keel that is stolen from others can run very fast. Thus, people go to others’ woods to chop down and they will run away very fast once they are aware of by the owners. Thirdly, before the race, people will kill a rooster and then daub chicken blood on the body of the boat, praying for good luck.