Ethnic Architecture | Wind and Rain Bridges of Southwest China

It is in Southwest China’s provinces of Guizhou (贵州), Hunan (湖南) and Guangxi (广西) that we find the Miao (苗族) and the Dong (侗族) people. Skilled carpenters, they have been building Wind and Rain Bridges (风雨桥) to link their villages to paddy fields. These bridges are true marvels of ethnic architecture in China.

Here is a list of some of the most stunning Miao and Dong Wind and Rain bridges in Southwest China.

The Huilong Bridge near Tongdao, Hunan

The Huilong Bridge near Tongdao, Hunan

Wind & Rain Bridges of Hunan, Guizhou & Guangxi

Founds specifically in the provinces of Guizhou (贵州), Hunan (湖南) and Guangxi (广西), Wind and Rain Bridges (风雨桥) are architectural features specific to the Miao (苗族) and Dong (侗族) ethnic minorities.

They are a particular type of covered bridges with reclined eaves. Their overall structure is a combination of wooden corridors lined with benches, verandas and Chinese pavilions which rest on one or several stone or concrete piers. Usually located at the entrance of villages and spanning over a river, these bridges are designed to look like a protective dragon, for this reason they are also called ‘Geomantic’ or ‘Blessed’ Bridge.  In the territory of the Dong, each pavilion is home to one or a group of deities whose worship aims at protecting the village, its population and its land.

Wind and Rain Bridge showcase the carpentry skills of the Miao and the Dong ethnic minorities. No nails were used and the entire wood structure and all the beams are carefully dove-tailed

Altar dedicated to local deities in the Puxiu Bridge near Tongdao, Hunan

Altar dedicated to local deities in the Puxiu Bridge near Tongdao, Hunan

1. Puxiu Bridge | Tongdao | Hunan

In south Hunan, 15 kilometers outside Tongdao (通道), in the village of  Huangdu (皇都村), in south Hunan (湖南) province, thePuxiu Bridge (普修桥) was built in 1804 and renovated in 1984.

Inside, we find altars dedicated to Dong ancestral deities, the red-faced Emperor Guan (关帝), the Taoist god of brotherhood and righteousness and to Wenchang (文昌), the god of culture and literature.

How to get there : read the article for more info about the Puxiu bridge

The Puxiu Wind and Rain bridge near Tongdao in Hunan province

The Puxiu Wind and Rain bridge near Tongdao in Hunan province

2. Yongji Bridge | Chengyang | Guangxi

The Yongji bridge (永济桥) that marks the entrance of the cluster of Dong ethnic minority hamlets of Chengyang in north Guangxi (广西) province near the town of Sanjiang (三江) is a travel destination in itself and should make it to your bucket-list of ethnic area to visit in the region, specially if you are heading to Guilin / Yangshuo scenic spots and the Longsheng rice terraces.

There are two other Wind and Rain bridges in Chengyang (呈阳) to look at during a hike through the different Dong hamlets.

How to get there : read the article about Chengyang (呈阳) and the Yongji bridge.

The Yongji bridge of Chengyang

The Yongji bridge of Chengyang

3. Huilong Bridge | Tongdao | Hunan

The Huilong Wind and Rain bridge is located in the Dong cultural corridor near the Tongdao in the Hunan countryside.

It is one of many Wind and Rain bridges, not far from the above-mentioned Puxiu bridge.

Read the article on Tongdao for more information.

The Huilong Bridge near Tongdao, Hunan

The Huilong Bridge near Tongdao, Hunan

4. Gaozeng | Congjiang | Guizhou

The village of Gaozeng (高增) is located near the town of Congjiang (从江) in southeast Guizhou, just 2 hours by bus from Chengyang. The region is still fairly remote and sees tourists only during the high season.

The construction of a highway that will link Congjiang directly to Guiyang (贵阳) and development projects in the region will attract more tourists are going to change this quiet region forever.

If you are in transit between Guizhou and Guangxi provinces, I definitely recommend a stop-over in Congjiang to visit Gaozeng and the other Dong villages of the area.

How to get there : read the full article about Gaozeng

The Wind and Rain Bridge of Gaozeng, Guizhou

The Wind and Rain Bridge of Gaozeng, Guizhou

5. Xiaohuang | Conjiang | Guizhou

Xiaohuang (小黄) is a remote Dong village just 20 kilometers north of Gaozeng near Congjiang in Guizhou province. At the end of a scenic drive in the mountainous landscape of Guizhou, the bridge at the entrance of the village is definitely worth it.

They are other smaller bridges in the village. The Wind and Rain bridges of both Xiaohuang and Gaozeng are topped with an incredible diamond-shaped wooden structures that I did not find in other bridges of Dong areas like the  Puxiu bridge near Tongdao (通道) and the Yongji bridge.

Both Gaozeng and Xiaohuang are both worth a stop-over if you transit between Guizhou and Guangxi and particularly if you like off-the-tourist-trail ethnic villages of remote China.

The Wind and Rain bridge of Xiaohuang, Guizhou

The Wind and Rain bridge of Xiaohuang, Guizhou

6. Xijiang | Kaili | Guizhou

Xijiang (西江) is a tourist hot-spot outside Kaili (凯里) in southeast Guizhou. Travelers make their way to the Miao village of Xijiang dubbed the largest Miao village in the world (西江千户苗寨) not only to take a look at the six Wind and Rain bridges that stretch across the river down in the valley, but also to get in touch with the Miao culture.

Let’s be fair. The Miao Wind and Rain bridges are not as impressive the Dong’s, but they are an important feature of the landscape.

How the get there : read the article about Xijiang.

One of the many Wind and Rain bridges of Xijiang, Guizhou

One of the many Wind and Rain bridges of Xijiang, Guizhou

7. Langde | Kaili | Guizhou

Langde (郎德) is a quiet Miao village near the town of Kaili (凯里) in southeastern Guizhou province. There are three beautiful Wind and Rain bridge in and near the villages.

Travelers come to Langde or Xijiang Miao villages not only admire the Wind and Rain bridges, but also to soak in the quiet atmosphere of ethnic rural China.

How the get there :read to full article about Langde.

The Wind and Rain Bridge of Langde, Guizhou

The Wind and Rain Bridge of Langde, Guizhou

 


Find more pictures of the Dong Wind and Rain bridges in the ‘Land of the Dong’ photo gallery.

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