The people of the Dong ethnic group live mainly in
’s southeastern counties of Liping,Congjiang, Rongjiang, Jinping, Sansui, Zhenyuan and Yuping. Many authorities believe that the Dong people are descendents of the ancient Baiyue people and they migrated southwest along the
, a Changjiang tributary, to the border region between
, Guangxi and Huan. Yet some others believe that they might have migrated morth from
Main food: glutinous rice
In common with other ethnic peoples in
, glutinous rice is also the preferred food of the Dong people. Being sticky, it can be eaten by using the fingers and is taken to the fields in baskets when the men and women work far from home. It is eaten with a pepper and chili sauce. Glutinous rice is often dyed blue and green for festivals and is given as a present for weddings. In Rongjiang the rice is dyed black for festival meals. Cooked glutinous rice is often pounded with a wooden mallet to form cakes, which is then dried. The cakes can be fried or placed over the coals to cook. They are also stored dried and when required are soaked in a bowl of water before being cooked.
The Dong people live in villages in wooden houses two to four storeys high. Fir tends to be the favorite wood. Domestic animals are kept on the ground level and the upper floors serve as living quarters. The Dong people have a distinctive and highly-developed architectural tradition and this can be illustrated by the two most important structures in any Dong villages; the
(also known as the Wind and
are built in the form of a many-storeyed pagoda supported by pillars of fir. They vary from 3 to 13 tiers and reach a maximum height of 20 meters. With unique technology the
are constructed without any nails or rivets. In general, they are square in shape. But some towers are square in shape on the first and second floors and octagonal from the third to the top floor. Inside the tower there are no extra floors from the bottom to the top.
These towers serves as meeting places for the villagers. People also meet here on festival days, singing, dancing or telling stories. In the past each tower contained a huge drum that was beaten should the village be in danger of attack or fire.
The Roofed Bridges, crossing over the flowing waters, are also made of woods and built by means of putting the bridge, corridor and pavilion together. They are pretty and practical because as the name the “Wind and
” implies, the villages can be sheltered from rain or wind here. The best example is the
The Great Songs of the Dong People
The Dong people, traditionally good singers and dancers, have created a rich repertoire of music. When night approaches, there comes a burst of deep harsh male chorus accompanied by a lyrical and soft female group singing. Then a pure, delightful children’s known far and wide for its enchanting tune and its mighty impact on the listeners. This mixed chorus not only delighted
but also surprised the whole world after it was displayed by nine Dong girls at “the 86Golden Folk Arts Festival” in
The Dating Customs of the Dong
Among the ethnic groups in china, Dongs are the most supportive of free marriage and thus, dating is really romantic. One of the most popular styles is “Xing ge zuo yue” (singing in and out of the girl’s room). During a full moon, the young man sings songs outside the girl’s house. If interested, the girl opens the door and lets him in. He then continues with some other songs. The girl asks him to sit down and offers him tea while singing in response. If their antiphonal style singing is agreeable to both, they then arrange their next meeting. After several repeats in this style, when they know they are in love, the man asks a matchmaker to make a formal proposal on his behalf.
The Dong people believe that the human hearts need songs. So the most important activity for them in the festivals is singing. Their major festivals are listed as follows:
||Sing-a-song Festival or Sowing Festival
||Cai Ge Tang
||Singing Dancing Memorizing “Sasui”
Tai Guan Ren(Carrying the Officials)
||Singing, Dancing, Parading
||Bird Fighting, Horse racing, Visiting Parents