Bronze drum, a special relic of minority groups in central south and southwest China, dates back well over two millennia. It is a long-standing percussion instrument and a handicraft of the Zhuang and Yao minority groups. There are seven kinds of bronze drums, all made of bronze with a pattern of sun-rays slightly protuberating in the center. In ancient times, the tribal chieftains beat the drum to call the people to discuss public affairs or attend sacrificial ceremonies. The drum was also presented as a tribute to the royal court and was given as a reward. It was a symbol of wealth and power.
Guangxi alone has unearthed more than 500 of such drums, which are in different designs and sizes. The largest exceeds one meter in diameter and the heaviest weighs over half a ton while the lightest several dozen kilograms. The tops and sides of the drums are decorated with designs done in relief.
However, explanations are diverse in so far as the use of these drums is concerned. Some people believe that they were meant for military music, others argue that they were for folk music, and still others think they were for religious rites or to symbolize power and wealth.