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China's oldest drum tower is Zengchong village's beating heart
China's oldest drum tower is Zengchong village's beating heart

More than a century before the Declaration of Independence was drafted and about 175 years before California became a state, inhabitants of this southern Chinese village erected an elaborate drum tower. Built without nails, its 11 octagonal tiers stack up like a wedding cake 82 feet tall. Painted roosters, chickens, peacocks and ducks, in bright blues, greens and yellows, dance around the edges, frolicking in trees and bamboo groves. An octagonal two-story turret caps the structure like a fancy stopper on a giant perfume bottle. In many ways, life in this remote hamlet, perched along the hairpin bend of a river in Guizhou province, seems to have changed little since the tower went up...

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