Musical instruments of the Dong shaman


The Dong nationality wu or shamans use several kinds of musical instruments while performing their religious ceremonies. Among them, the most important are maybe the drums.


They have some types of drums with small varieties in its size and decoration, all them are made of wood with a ox skin as cover. Usually they are called lateral drums as can be beaten only in one side, their side ranges usually from 20 to 25 centimeters, and its ox skin is kept fit by some iron ring in its outer surface and iron rings.

They are beaten by the wu shamans at the nuo ceremonies.

Though we have not find any reference to the possible hallucinogenic effect of the drum beat among the Dong, it can not be discarded.

When these drums have some flowery decorations in their surface are known as Flowery lateral drum.


Cymbals are also widely used by the Dong shaman.

There are two kind of cymbals slightly different, one is called "flat cymbal" and the other "bronze cymbal", though both are made of bronze and do not have many differences.


The bronze chimes of the Dong shaman usually are built with an alms bowl made of bronze and a hammer made of iron. During the rituals the hammer will beat the inner side of the bowl creating its characteristic sound.


A bronze bell is also ritually used by the Dong nationality shaman that is depicted holding in his hand a small bell, a knife and a cow horn to expel the evil spirits while singing and dancing.


Horn to expel the evil spirits. Usually made with a single horn of a buffalo, with some decorations in its mouth, it is thought that when the shaman blows it he can expel the evil spirits.

Zhonguo minzu minsu wenwu cidian (Dictionary of the cultural objects of the Chinese nationalities). Shanxi Peoples Press. 2004

Drawings by Wei Hua

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