Zhaoxing Dong Village

Culture

Zhaoxing Dong Village

by Live in Guizhou


PUBLISHED August 17, 2021 • 9 MIN READ

Zhaoxing Dong Village is under the jurisdiction of Liping County of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture. It is only 8 kilometers away from Congjiang High- speed Railway Station. Rebuilt on the site of an original Dong village, it retains both an antique style and contemporary features. It was one of several venues for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala of 2018. The people here are simple and honest, warm-hearted and hospitable; they are beautiful people, renowned for their singing, dancing and liquor.

Dong Architecture: All Dong Villages Are Built with Wood

The wooden structure of the Dong ethnic architecture is best represented by the Wind and Rain Bridge, as well as the drum towers. No nails or rivets were used in the construction of the whole building, and all the structures are solidly connected with a couple of poles, mortise and tenon joints, showcasing sophisticated building techniques and high artistic values. In 2006, the Dong wooden structure construction techniques were included in China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Cultural Legacy of Matriarchy: Sama Festival of the Dong Ethnic Group

The Sama Festival is the oldest traditional celebration existing in southern Dong villages. It is a legacy from the matriarchal society of the Dong ethnic group. The festival is celebrated in Rongjiang, Liping and Congjiang counties in Guizhou, as well as nearby Dong villages, and the Sama Festival in Chejiang Town, Rongjiang County, is the most representative. The Dong people celebrate the festival to pray for peace and prosperity for their villages and happiness for everyone. During the festival, most Dong men would offer to stay at home to care for the children and do housework, so the locals always say that Sama Festival is actually the Women’s Day of the Dong people.

Dong Village · Indigo Dyeing

To paint with wax, to draw with stiches, to dye with indigo – this tells the essence of indigo dyeing, the intangible cultural heritage of Guizhou Province. The Dong people are good at spinning and weaving, and their favorite cloth is the Dong cloth, which is weaved and dyed by them.
Along the stream that passes by many houses in the village, there are many big vats for indigo vetting. Yes, the pigment for cloth dyeing is completely natural. When the indigos vatted in the vats are fermented, the locals add egg white and other materials, which will in the end, contribute to the indigo dye.
The weaving and dyeing process of the Dong cloth is not complicated, but time-consuming and laborious. The cloth needs to be put in the vat and completely soaked in the indigo dye, and then taken out in the sun to dry. This process is repeated over and over again, and cloth beating is also involved. In this way, the cloth making may take as long as two or three years, until the cloth turns glossy and thick.

Dong Village · Embroidery

The embroidery of the Dong ethnic group is an intangible cultural heritage of China, featuring a simple yet elegant style with ethnic peculiarities and patterns like flowers, birds, geometric figures and butterflies.
Flowers and birds represent good luck, while butterflies represent love. The Dong embroidery works can be presented as a souvenir, or sometimes, a love token between a man and a woman. Anyway, the embroidery is a treasure of the Dong people.

Dong Village · Glutinous Rice

In the Dong region, people usually have four meals a day, two main meals and two teas. Rice is the common meal. People in plains like to have non- glutinous rice, while people in mountainous areas prefer the glutinous kind. There are a great variety of glutinous rice, the red, the black, the white, the huskless one and the one grown on dry land. The “Xianghenuo”(a sticky rice variety) is the most famous among all types. People cook them as steamed white rice, steamed mixed rice, rice porridge, mixed rice porridge, glutinous rice dumpling, ciba (glutinous rice cake), etc. Instead of using chopsticks, they knead the rice into balls with bare hands, and call it “eating rolled rice balls”.
The Dong people generally make all the dishes for the whole day in the morning, and take them onto the hills for eating. The rolled rice balls made of “Xianghenuo” are particularly sweet and delicious. As a local saying goes, when one household cooks rice, the aroma spreads throughout the village.

A Young Illustrator of the Dong Ethnic Group

Lan Caisheng, who graduated from Chongqing Technology and Business University in 2014 majoring in visual communication, is now running his own illustration gallery in Zhaoxing Village. Focusing on the daily life in the Dong village, he is dedicated to creating works showcasing folk customs. He hopes to spread the Dong culture with practical products by combining traditional ethnic culture with modern illustrations.

Weddings of the Dong people

I want to share with you the weddings of the Dong people as there are some special customs to follow:
1) The services of a matchmaker are essential for any marriage. On the day for making the marriage proposal, the groom-to- be will take a duck to the girl’s family to show his intention to marry her. When the girl’s family agrees with the proposal, the groom-to- be will cut off the duck’s head and give it to the matchmaker as a way to express his gratitude.
2) A Dong township usually consists of various villages. Relatives and friends usually live in the same village, so a wedding notice is unnecessary. Instead, a few days before the wedding, the bride-to-be will personally visit the houses of relatives and friends to inform them about the date of the ceremony.
3) The Dong girls are ingenious and deft.
In order to prove her craftsmanship, prior to the wedding the bride should join her sisters to make shoes for the groom’s family, and the shoes should be delivered on the wedding day.
4) On the wedding day, the groom’s family should kill a pig and shop for food before the dawn. At noon, they need to deliver the prepared glutinous rice, candies, apple, orange, and rice liquor to the bride’s family. The longer the delivery team is, the prouder the bride’s family would feel. The bride’s family will be in charge of the cooking.
Besides these customs, there are many other interesting wedding traditions, such as blocking the road to compete in singing, looking for girls, etc. Just go and experience them for yourself!