Tay Nguyen – the Central Highlands, including Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong provinces, is not only strategic area for economic, politics, national security but also diversified, specific folk culture region of Vietnam. Tay Nguyen, where have plentiful traditional rituals following the lunar calendar and the circle of life: wedding rite, tomb abandonment ceremony…, has been popular with milpa civilization that is spirit support in moral life and founds special diversified vast culture region.
Central Highlands traditional culture, both material and immaterial heritage, such as epics, festival, gong art and portray technique has contributed to enrich and assert Vietnamese culture features, and has been proud of Vietnam country.
The special exhibition of “Tay Nguyen culture” displays in the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, introducing over 250 documentations, objects of Collector Nguyen Van Hai.
This exhibition displayed:
– Central highlands’ common house:
Tay Nguyen is the residental place of ethnic groups such as E De, Jrai, Ba Na, Se Dang, and Gie Trieng… It is well- known with epics, gong, especially traditional common houses. Central highlands’ common house is great work of art, including sculpture, painting and decoration, symbol of community’s power and country’s pride, spirit of Tay Nguyen mountain village.
Each ethnic minority has various common house types with typical folk architecture. Commonly, it has 10 metres length, 4 metres large, 15 – 16 metres high or only 7 – 8 metres high.
Common house has important role in spirit culture, social life and belief of Tay Nguyen ethnic minorities. It is the one of typical cultural heritage, attaching residental history of ethnic groups. It attracts lookers through its simple technique, multiform architecture. It is the symbol of spirit value, show deep sacred significance in each member and central highlander community.
– The exhibitions of spiritual culture of the Central Highland:
The buffalo sacrifice rituals: To the ethnic groups in Tay Nguyen, the buffalo is the symbol of prosperity and power in community. So, the Tay Nguyen people sacrifices the buffalo to the Gods.
– Statue of tomb’ houses:
Statue of tomb’s houses is typical, special sculpture art kind of the Central Highlands traditional culture. It has been existed in most the spirit life of ethnic groups such as Gia Rai, Bana, E De, Xo Dang… This kind was made at the time of preparations for the tomb-abandoning ceremony. Following opinion of the central highlander, living nomadic life, the tomb-abandoning ceremony finishes, the spirit of the dead will be come back with ancestor, starting the “new life” in the next world and ending the relation between the living and the dead. The tomb-abandoning ceremony, its great significance is a big ceremony. It is organized in spring, every year, at cemetery and attracts lookers.
In the ceremony, some works need preparation such as cereals, “Ruou Can” (wine), rebuilding tomb’s houses…specially, making wooden statues. Statue of tomb’s houses do not describe details, only outline and patch, but its posture and appearance are diversified, plentiful. Statue of tomb’s houses of Tay Nguyen, through hands of craftman, is work of art in spirit life. It has created closely feeling with Central Highlander.
– Gong culture:
Gong culture of the Central Highlands was officially recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of humanity. It originated from the Dong Son civilization with its bronze drums being well known.
Gong are cast by bronze alloy with variety of shapes and sizes: “Cong” has a dome in the middle and “Chieng” has none, having diameter from 20cm to 60cm or from 90cm to 120cm for big types. Gongs can be used in single or in a set of six to twelve units. There is a set of up to 18 – 20 units such as the Gong set of Gia Rai ethnic.
Gongs are closely associated with the life of the Centtral Highlanders, reflecting their joys and sorrows in daily life. It has appeared in most rituals and ceremonies such as weddings, welcoming of the New Year, New Rice and New House Festival, Triumph celebration…
Gongs are a medium of communication between people and deities of Central Highland ethnic groups. Every gong and alcohol jar are a symbol of wealth of individual, family, ethnic groups.