Two and a half million Dong people are located in Southeastern Guizhou, Southwestern Hunan, and Northeastern Guangxi with a few found in Enshi county of Southwestern Hubei in China. They usually live along meandering streams that are found in this very mountainous region. Generally, they reside in small villages although a few live in larger towns. It is believed that the Dong originated from modern Thailand, emigrating to China more than 3000 years ago. Reference to the Dong nationality can be found in ancient Chinese historical sources from as far back as the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC).
茫鈧偓茫鈧偓The Dong language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, the Kam-Dai branch, and the Kam-Sui group. It is dividedsintosNorthern and Southern varieties. Every variety is divided againsintosthree local vernaculars. Although a very difficult language to speak due to its 15 tonal variations, the Dong language is the primary means of communication for this people. In the 1950s, the government worked out a Dong written language on the basis of the Roman alphabet. However, the Dong continue to use Chinese characters, in their written communications.
茫鈧偓茫鈧偓The Dong tend to cluster by families or as clans in villages. These villages may contain anything up to 600 families and a typical village will consist of familiesshavingsonly one or two surnames. The Dong are essentially an agricultural society.
茫鈧偓茫鈧偓Dong people are very good at dancing and singing. They celebrate their festivals with rich and colorful games ,songs and dances. However, the Dong people are not only good at singing and dancing, but also experts in knitting and building.
茫鈧偓茫鈧偓The drum towers are in the shape of a wood pagoda. Without a single nail or rivet, the towers could be three-to-ten-storey high. The tower is spacious inside and has wood rails circling each floor. There is a calabash or crane on the top of the tower symbolizing auspiciousness and peace. The delicately wrought protruding eaves look as if to fly and leap. The square in front of, and the stage connected with the tower are the centre of celebration activities.
茫鈧偓茫鈧偓Wind and rain bridge, also called flower bridge, is another unique building of Dong people. As the weather in the region is changeable, Dong people build corridors on the bridges so passers-by could take shelter from the sun, wind and rain or take a rest. So the bridge is called wind and rain bridge. On the corridor and eaves of pavilions are carved with paintings featuring coloured and vivid figures, mountains and rivers, patterns and animal, displaying the Dong"s national characteristics as well as their diligence and wisdom. Wind and rain bridges are the art treasures of Chinese wood architecture.