Dong Ethnic People

Last Update: 2008-3-21; By lavender0108

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The Dong people, with about 2,514,000 (1990), are found mainly in Guizhou province, Hunan province, Hubei Province and Gungxi Chuang Autonomous Region.


The ancestors of the Dong People derived from one branch of the Luoyue people ( a branch of the Lingnan "Baiyue"in the Qin (221BC-206BC) and Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD)]. Since the time of theSouthern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD), they have belonged to one tribe of "Luoyue", called "Liao". Then theLiao began to separate in the Tang and Song Dynasties, and the Dong people in turn separated from them..


"Marking": This is a kind of promissory custom, which is called "Multi-mark" in the Dong language. People pull some Mangdong grass or other plants, knot them and put them on something or somewhere to show a variety of meanings, such as a sign of love, road , hunting, water,and field boundaries, to mark mountains, forests, bridges,along with many others. For example, as road mark means it may be used to signify a dangerous section; a hunting marking means traps are set nearby ; a bridge head mark means the bridge is unsafe, and a special mark could mean a kind of punishment.

Bridge picnicking: It is said that the dragon raises its head on February 2nd. On this day family members together with some of their relatives will bring delicious foods such as meat, egg, fish, rice cake and rice to picnic along the bridge side in expectation of an abundant year. According to folklore tthe Gnome who looks after farming is offered a sacrifice in the bridge head, so people like to drink with the Gnome on this day to seek a bumper harvest year.

Cattle bowing in:In the heart of Dong people, cattle not only stand for the rhinoceros, but also thedragon ( which represents luck and success in China). On February 2nd, all the villagers bow the cattle in from the rich harvest village with piping and drumming. Then l the cattle are killed and the meat shared with every family. The villagers invite one another to dinner and sing the song "Dragon returning back" while drinking .Finally they bury the cattle horns under the rhinoceros pond in the center of the village, indicating that the rhinoceros is coming back, and the village will flourish, have another bountyfulharvest and be immune from disaster.


Some of the Dong people's festivals are the same as those of the Han people, eg. Spring Festival (January 1st of the lunar calendar), Mid-autumn Festival (August 15th of the lunar calendar), Dragon boat Festival (May 5th of lunar month), Tomb-sweeping Festival orQingming Festival, (April 4th-6th). Theyalso have t some of their own distinctive traditional festivals, such as Dong Year, NewlhHarvest Eating Festival, Sisters' Festival, Bullfight Festival. .

Dong Year: On November 1st (lunar calendar) each year, people will celebrate the bumper harvest after getting in their crops. They will make glutinous rice, cakes, slaughter ducks and chickens, eat salted Hehua carp and fresh frozen common carp, etc.

Newly-harvest eating Festival:People will choose one day after the ripening of the early rice, to celebrate. They will reap the grain, husk the rice, or cook the grain heads with rice ,to offer sacrifice to their ancestors together with fish, chicken, duck, etc. After sacrificing, they will have dinner, sing their songs or their opera and take part in bullfighting.

Sisters' Festival: Here, sisters refer to young females, either married or unmarried. They celebrate on April 8th (Lunar calendar) when the married women come back to their mothers' home. Together with their sisters and sisters-in-law, they enjoy this day and cook a special kind of food, "black e glutinous rice cake. When they return, they present this food as a gift to their relatives. It's also a compensation for leaving their husband alone for the day.

Bullfighting Festivals: Dong people enjoy bullfighting, so all the villages raise buffaloes which are good fighters. The festival is celebrated on Hai day in September or August, the exact date of which varies from year to year [The traditional Chinese way of designating years, months, days and hours was to use a system of combining one of the 10 Heavenly Stems (Tian Gan) and one of the 12 Earthly Branches (Di Zhi)to form 60 unique pairs in a complete cycle. Hai is the last of the 12 Earthly Branches]. Before this, they will invite their opponents, and then fights are arranged between bulls. This is a truly unique event to see.

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