China's Minority Peoples - The Dongs
The Dong people, with a population of 2,514,014, make their homes in Qiandongnan, Yuping, Xinhuang, Tongdao, Zhijiang and Sanjiang counties where Guizhou, Hunan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region meet.
Dong people are excellent farmers. They plant rice and breed fish in paddy. A small number cultivate trees. The I Dongs grow delicious glutinous rice; the best-known is the Xianghe glutinous rice.
The Dong people were known as the Yilings in the historical documents of the Song Dynasty. Later in the Ming ' and Qing dynasties, they were variously called "Dongman", "Dongmiao", "Dongren" or "Dongjia". After the founding I of the People's Republic of China, these people were formally named the Dong Nationality, but folks prefer Dongjia.
The Dong language belongs to the Dong-Shui branch of the Zhuang-Dong group of the Sino-Tibetan family. It had | no written form until the 1950s. But most Dong people now use Chinese.
The Dongs say that every one of them can sing and improvise lyrics. Dong songs have strict rules of rhyming, but people manage to express whatever they sec and feel quite easily. The most splendid is the traditional Dage, normally sung a cappella with many parts. It possesses great value both in literature and music.
The Dongs are especially skilled in building bridges and in Dong territory exquisite drum towers and wood bridges with painted pavilions are common and represent the achievements of the Dong architecture. Many Dong people can also do silk embroidery, cross-stitch work, silver ornaments and weave elaborate cloth and brocade.
The Dongs' Dage is normally sung together by men and women in several parts.
Dong people welcome their honored guests by putting road-blocks in front of their village. Every guest must empty a bowl of glutinous rice wine before his entrance.
Oil tea is the Dongs' favorite food.
Singing and dancing during festivals.