The Dong minority is one of the 56 ethnic minority groups that reside in China. The Dong people live in scattered villages in China’s Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces where they are famous for their traditional sweet rice and for their unique carpentry skills which they display by constructing beautiful wooden covered bridges. These bridges are called "Wind and Rain Bridges" because there are pavilions built on the bridge that provide shelter to people from the wind and rain. These bridges have also earned the name of "flower bridges" because of their exquisite architecture. On a raining day, the pavilions on the bridge provide locals an excellent place to meet, relax, socialize, exchange ideas, and even amuse.
A Wind and Rain bridge is normally composed of the bridge, a tower and a pavilion, with wood being the main building material. On both sides of the bridge, there are railings and benches, providing a resting area for passers-by in the roofed corridor. The upturned eaves, towers and pavilions are decorated with dragon and phoenix carvings on the stone piers, with auspicious motifs of treasure gourds and longevity cranes etc. adorning the top of the bridge.
A specialty of these bridges is that no nails were ever used in their construction. Rather, the genius Dong carpenters used groove joints in structural members of the bridge to hold them together and transmit the load to the pier.
The most famous of these bridges is Chengyang Bridge in Sanjiang County of Guangxi Province. It was built in 1916, and is one of the best and the largest wind and rain bridge in China. The bridge has two platforms (one at each end of the bridge), 3 piers, 3 spans, 5 pavilions, 19 verandas, and three floors. The bridge is 64.4 meters long, 3.4 meters wide and 10.6 meters high. The piers are made of stone, the upper structures are mainly wooden, and the roof is covered with tiles. On both side of the bridge, long stools were set up which convenience for people to rest. From the stools one could see the Linxi River windingly flow, on both sides of the river it was full of tea forest and green woods on the sloping hills. This charming bridge attracts flocks of visitors every day.
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