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Mapang Drum Tower, a Poetic Symbol of Dong Culture

 

Dong Nationality has three cultural totems: Drum Tower, Wind-Rain Bridge and Kam Grand Choirs. Combining the magnificence of pagodas with the exquisiteness of pavilions and corridors, Drum Tower, an original art form typical of Dong Nationality and an indispensable part of each Dong village, has penetrated into Dong people’s daily life and become one of their most distinctive cultural symbols. Deriving its name from the drum it shelters, Drum Tower was constructed to warn Dong people of wars or natural disasters. By now, Drum Tower has evolved into their worship, education, social activity and entertainment hub, where worship ceremonies, music lessons, important meetings, discussions, festivals and events will take place.

 

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Dong Village


Drum Tower prevails among Dong people who mainly inhabit Hunan, Guizhou and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture. Dong people sharing the same family name will erect one Drum Tower; hence it is a common phenomenon to see several imposing drum towers occupy the same village.

 

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Mapang Drum Tower



Drum towers, just like wind-rain bridges, are made of fir wood, the most popular and eco-friendly material which abounds in south China. Not a single nail is employed during the whole process. A tape ruler, a hand-draw blueprint and an on-site measuring instrument made of bamboo will do. Fir woods are selected carefully by senior-aged Dong people to ensure quality and endurability. Besides, colorful paintings and delicate sculptures are employed to decorate them, both internally and externally.

 

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 One Dong girl is offering tea to one foreign friend

 Poetic Guilin

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 Red Yao Women are reputed for their long hairs

 The unique sculpture along Mapang Drum Tower

 



Drum Tower boasts three distinctive features: first, it is a quadrangular,hexagonal or octagonal pagoda-shaped multilayer architecture which can bring out strong visual impact. With pointed summits, upturned eaves, they pile up layer by layer, with size dwindling from toe to tip accordingly. Their square-shaped bases usually contain fireplaces. During winter, Dong people will circle around these fireplaces, practicing their Kam Grand Choirsor and staging various shows. Second, the body of drum tower is remarkable for their dense layers and unique shapes. Third, drum towers are built in odd numbers, the auspicious numbers in Dong people’s eye. Thus, you can see drum tower spanning from one layer to 21 layers in southwest China.

 

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 Mapang Drum Tower

 

Situated in Guangxi Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, Mapang Drum Tower, a off the beaten path cultural relic in Sanjiang, enthralls visitors like a magnetic. Among over 200 drum towers in Sanjiang, Mapang Drum Tower is the most notable one, not only for its ancient history, but also its ingenious design and structure: it is said only one main supporting pillar was used to build it.

 

 

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 Dong people are famous for their hospitality, which finds the fullest expression in their Collective Feast(Long-table Feast, Gather-up Feast or Baijiayan.). It will be joyful to dine with so many cheerful people, and taste the most diversified dishes.

 Lusheng Reed Flute Performance

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 Liping Drum Tower

 Pk between one Dong child and a tourist

 

 



Mapang Drum Tower dashes 20meters above the ground. It consists of four 13-meter-long main columns with a waistline of almost 2 meters and twelve minor pillars, the former symbolizes the four seasons and the later the twelve months in a year. With upturned eaves, imposing layers, eye-dazzling patterns as well as images of celebrities, dragons, phoenixes, cranes, floras and landscapes employed to create a visual splendor, Mapang Drum Tower is a fabulous art gallery of Dong people, and a living example testifying to the incredibly outstanding Dong architecture. Completed in 1928 and restored in 1943, this nine-story pagoda-shaped architecture is a masterpiece embracing both functionality and aesthetic beauty. Besides, the 28 stone pillars engraved with vivid patterns and erected to support this architecture, are worthy of sightseeing.

Lei Wenxing, a talented architect, drew a blueprint with only one tape rule, one pencil and one on-site measurement made of bamboo. Their design turned out to be so well-calculated and precise that every single part fit in perfectly, and not a single nail is needed. Seen from above, this nine-story building looks like a sitting dragon, who guides this serene village loyally.

 

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 Dong Village is reputed as the Land of Singing, and it well lives up to its fame. Dong Kam Grand Choirs features rhythmic tunes and diversified performance forms, which is rare-seen in China.

 

In China, there are over 630 drum towers and over 500 wind-rain bridges. Boasting 320 drum towers and 290 wind-rain bridges, Liping(黎平), “the Museum of Dong Architecture”, is a must-see. Another ideal haunt is Zhaoxing(肇兴), the biggest Dong village in China, which boasts 5 drum towers, 5 wind-rain bridges and 5 opera mansions. The drum tower cluster in Zhaoxing is a Genius record holder. Besides, Gaoyan Dong Village(高寅侗寨)which contains over 10 tilt houses dating back to the 1920s,worthy of a stopover also.


Travel Tips of Mapang Drum Tower:


Location: Mapang Village, Bajiang Township, Guangxi Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, 26km from Sanjiang County

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 Another highlight of Dong people architecture: Chengyang Wind-Rain Bridge in Sanjiang County, Guilin
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Liping Drum Tower
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Liping Drum Tower
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