The traditional homeland of the Dong nationality is located in the adjacent mountainous areas of Guizhou, Hunan, and the Guangxi Autonomous Region in southwest China (Figure 1). The total Dong population exceeds 2.5 million: 1,400,344 inhabit Guizhou, 757,130 in Hunan, 295,673 in Guangxi, and 54,798 in Hubei.1 Located in mountain valleys, Dong villages are protected from strong winds and enjoy a warm and humid climate with an average temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees C) (Figure 2). Agriculture is dependent on irrigation. Rice is planted on the flat fields, while cotton, tea bushes, and vegetables are grown on terraces on the hills. The mountainsides are covered with fir, pine, and fruit trees.2

The Dong are among the Chinese ethnic groups that live in elevated, multistory wooden houses called ganlans. In the Dong community,...

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