Photographer's Note

In Zhaoxing, a little village in South China mountains, there are many drum towers like this one.

As symbols of the Dong ethnic minority, the drum towers have very distinctive features. It is the place where the Dongs hold meetings, rest and throw celebrations. During festive occasions, the Dong people gather together in front of the drum towers to dance and be merry. In the summer, they chat and enjoy the cool weather near the towers; in the winter, they gather around the fireplace to tell stories. Drum towers can be found in Liping, Rongjiang, Congjiang and Tianzhu counties in Guizhou Province.

The saying: Building a drum tower before constructing a building is common among the Dong people. There is at least one drum tower in every Dong's village, and some villages have up to four or five such towers. In the past, cowhide-covered drums were hung in the tower, and when something important took place in the village, a villager would climb to the top of the tower and beat the drum to alert the villagers. In some places, in the case of fire or banditry, villagers beat the drum as a distress signal. When one village beats the drum, other villages respond and the message soon reach villages far away. The senior village head with the highest authority is in charge of the drum tower; only the senior head or persons authorized by him can beat the drum. Different drumbeats inform villagers of various events, such as gatherings, meetings or social occasions when honorable guests arrive for a visit.

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Additional Photos by Livia Comandini (lestans) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1754 W: 174 N: 2465] (17258)
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