Zhaoxing Dong Village boasts a landmark of five drum towers and beautiful bridges and is known as the most famous Dong Village in China and it is one of the largest Dong villages with over 800 households and more than 4,000 inhabitants in Guizhou.
Zhaoxing Dong Village has a history of more than 800 years. According to the records of pedigree passed down from generation to generation, the ancestors of Zhaoxing inhabiting there and building the village as early as 1160 during the Southern Song Dynasty. In 2001, Zhaoxing was included into the list of Guinness Book of World Records for Zhaoxing Drum Towers and Dong villages.
There are five sections making up the village, namely ren (meaning benevolence), yi (meaning justice), li(meaning courtesy), zhi (meaning wisdom) and xin (meaning faith).
Diping Wind and Rain Bridge
Feature: Diping Wind and Rain Bridge is the most exquisite one of its kind, and also the oldest one in the history of the Dong ethnic minority.
Overview: There are three ethnic cultural highlights of Dong ethnic group, including wind and Rain Bridge (also called “flower bridge”), drum tower and Dong ethnic songs. Entering the Dong villages, there are wind and rain bridges. The lengths of the bridges vary from each other, but every bridge has roofed covered building and colorful engravings. The wind and rain bridges not only provide shelter from wind and rain for people, but also serve as the venue for local people to hold public activities.
This famous wind and rain bridge is also called “Flower Bridge”, which is 57 meters long and 5 meters wide. It was built in 1882, and connects three tribes, including Shangzhai (Upper Tribe), Xiazhai (Lower Tribe) and Ganlong. On the bridge, there are roof covered corridor and bridge pavilion, all of which are covered with grey-green roof tiles.
It can provide shelter against wind and rain, which is the origin of the name. Inside the bridge, there are long benches, which is convenient for pedestrians to walk, and also provides a place for pedestrians to take shelter from rain and heat, meet with friends, greet and see off guests and view the scenery. Wind and Rain Bridge is a multi-functional architecture of the Dong ethnic group.
The whole bridge has ingenious structure and is a masterpiece of folk architecture in every detail, because the pillars, square columns, purlins, benches, handrails are all made by joining fire wood. The construction of the bridge was completed without a blueprint, and without using one single nail or rivet. There is a pavilion inside the bridge, corridors inside the pavilion, and pictures inside the pavilion.
The pictures depict folk stories about the ethnicity and famous historical figures, flowers, plants, couplets and so on. Because Diping Wind and Rain Bridge is of important historical, scientific and artistic value, it was ranked into the list of the fifth Important Units of Cultural Relics under National Protection by the State Council in 2001.
Address: On Nanjiang River, in Diping Dong Ethnic Village, Liping County, Guizhou Province.
Feature: Zhaoxing is famous for its drum towers. It is known as “Home to Drum Towers” because it has the most unique drum towers all over China.
Overview: There are altogether 628 Dong drum towers in China, and Liping County has 328 ones. At Zhaoxing Dong Village of Liping County, drum towers are very concentrated. There are 5 magnificent drum towers within this village, so it is called “Drum Towers Complex”.
As the symbol of Dong villages, drum towers embody the architectural skills of the Dong ethnic group. The whole construction of towers did not need any single nail, rivet or blueprint. The drum tower combines the magnificence of pagodas, the elegance of pavilions and the daintiness of chambers. There is usually a drum hanging on the drum tower. In the past, when there were enemies attacking, fire accidents, important meetings or other emergencies, the drum would be beaten, which is the origin of its name.
Building drum towers is considered as the sign of auspiciousness and prosperity for the Dong villages. Thus, the whole village raised the money together to build the drum towers. The functions of drum tower include: firstly, it is a sign of Dong village; secondly, it is a sign of the clan name of Dong people; thirdly, it serves as the venue for Dong people to relax and entertain; fourthly, it is the socializing place for the young people; fifthly, it is where Dong people greet and receive guests; sixthly, it is an important place for Dong people to gather and discuss about important affairs; seventhly, it serves as the tool for delivering message or alarms.
Drum towers are built by people of the whole Dong village. The whole construction is completed by using fir wood, and then designed and built by the skillful masters of the Dong people. No blueprints are needed for the construction, and the sizes of the hundreds of pillars and columns are all calculated by themselves in their mind.
All year round, during the free time, local peasants will sit around the fire and chat about their daily stuff and interesting stories. During festivals and celebrations, all the people will wear their festival costumes and accessories, and participate in recreational activities such as singing, dancing, Lusheng playing and Dong opera.
On August 18th of the Chinese Lunar calendar every year, there is a Niren Fesitval (Mud Figure Festival), which is called “Duo Ma Dao Shen” in Dong language. The festival boasts a number of activities, including having a mud fight and bullfights, with a history of more than 500 years, according to the introduction of the old people in Zhaoxing.
In celebration of harvest, Niren Festival is held during the period after harvest season, with rich cultural connotation. It is unique because people use the mud to express their worship towards mud and their deep attachment to the land which raises human being. At the same time, it is also an artistic way for worshipping the land of the Dong people.
Niren Festival is held in Xiage Village which is 4 kilometers away from Zhaoxing. Backing against green mountains, the village was built on the mountain slope facing the layers of rice paddies. There are more than 300 households of Dong people. In the village, there are 4 drum towers that were built in different eras.
After lunch, the Niren Festival officially begins. The activities consist two parts, which are in the mud and on the ground. The part in the mud is the most unique. In early morning of the festival, some people will be sent to the fish pond to draw off 30% or 20% of the water so that it turns into mud. When the activity begins, everyone of the village will pour into the pond and compete to catch fish.
Activities on the ground usually include singing songs, playing Lusheng and performing Dong Opera. Sometimes the activities will last all night long. These are all the celebration to “Duo Ma Dao Shen (the land)”.