The drum towers are traditionally taller than the buildings they are near.
On the 21st of July 2006, the inauguration of the new drum tower commenced.
Drum towers have been part of the Kam culture since the Northern Dynasties (386-581 A.D.) and were first established along the Yellow River (Rossi, Gail and Paul Lau. 1990:75) An important feature of these towers is that they always have an odd number of roofs and no nails are used allowing for only mortis and tenon in their construction. The shape has also been noted to emulate that of the Cunninghamia tree, which has long been a very important tree for the Kam for it's building quality, economic importance and strong cultural bonds.
The tower received it name owing to the large drum that once was intrinsic to the requirements of the structures use. This drum was used to warn of danger and the impending approach of an enemy's army. Sounding the drum brought the community to the tower where plans were made in response to the emergency. During the Cultural Revolution many drum towers were destroyed and since the large drum was removable, almost all drums were burned. There is a resurgence of drum towers and Kam communities are attempting to reinvigorate the construction and use of these very important historical and present day markers of this minority people.
Glutinous rice stalks are hung from the rafters of the drum towers. Two bowls of glutinous rice, beans, roasted rice and red dyed rice in a mild broth are eaten for double happiness. In the past there was red and black rice but now the rice is dyed as the past
glutinous cultivars have been lost.
Rossi, Gail and Paul Lau. 1990. The Dong People of
China - A Hidden Civilization. Singapore: Hagley and
Hoyle Pte Ltd.