Dong Villages: Flower Bridges that Permeate with Vitality

Culture

Dong Villages: Flower Bridges that Permeate with Vitality

by Live in Guizhou


PUBLISHED Nov 15, 2021 • 4MIN READ

Traditional Dong style bridges are called wind and rain bridges or flower bridges because the Dong people build coverings over the bridges to provide shelter from wind and other extreme weather. Since the local people have lived by rivers for centuries, they have a rich culture of making various styles of bridges using different materials.

There are stone arch bridges, stone slab bridges, bamboo bridges, and wooden bridges among others. They even go as far as cutting down a huge tree and using it as a bridge after simple treatment.

The most culturally representative bridge style of the Dong people is the covered flower bridge. In addition to helping people cross back and forth over a river, this bridge also serves as a public place for people to get some rest, take shelter from rain, meet friends, and enjoy the surrounding scenery. Mengmao Flower Bridge in Zhaoxing features an ornate carving of two headstrong dragons playing with a bead on the top of the wind and rain porch on the bridge pavilion.

Beautifully decorated flower bridges are more than just a means of crossing the river. On a clear moonlit night where the sky is lit up with stars, the flower of youth begin to blossom on these bridges when young men and ladies express their love for each other through songs.

The ancient Tang’an Flower Bridge is relatively hidden among the terraced fields. Its beams and columns have turned emerald green having seen much moisture in rainy and foggy weather. The spring below the bridge continues to bubble underneath, while the bridge floor creaks when walked upon. On rainy and foggy days which occur from time to time, those traversing the village appear as if engulfed by magical clouds. On misty moonlit nights, the sound of singing can be heard drifting out from flower bridges hidden deep in the mist. People in the village sit around in twos and threes, and their witty yet sincere duets move people’s hearts.

Over the past few years, the instances of young men and women singing to each other have lessened gradually. Since there are no middle schools located in small and medium-sized villages in the region, most children aged around 15 or 16 have to leave their home to study at boarding schools, doing reading exercises in the morning and individual study in the evening. When they return home on weekends, they still have much homework to finish before returning to school the following Monday. As a result, they have no time to sing and hone their skills in their traditional style of music. (Source:China Today)