The traditional house Vietnam - Rong House in Highland where there is coffee

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Rong Houses are the traditional communal structures of the Bahar minority group in Vietnam's Central Highlands, where important events, such as weddings and festivals, are held. Similar to the communal house in the Viet village, the communal house in the highlands is the place that all community activities of remote ethnic groups in the highlands take place, and the headquarters of the administration of the highland village, the place of religious belief activ ities, guest house…… ; the place expressing the spiritual community festivals and the place that the old artisans impart the traditional cultural values to the young generation...,the place keeping traditional objects on display: Gong, drum, weapon, heads of immolated animals in holidays and is the place of birth of children from early childhood gathering around the fireplace and being told stories, and is also the place that adults meeting at night to tell each other the stories of mountain and forests...

The ridge has two roofs; the top of the sloping roofs has a couple of horns. We should view very carefully to recognize different features compared to houses: Going along the wave of the roofs is a special decorating range. The floor is joined with bamboo and neohouzeaua knitting pieces. In the middle of the house, there is a straight banister. This banister is the support of small jars of Ruou Can when the village holds festivals. The patterns decorating in the walls have two colors: red and green. Bahnar peple usually use couples of buffalo’s horns, pillars in the middle space are sculptured skillfully (sun), eight-swing-star, lozenge, birds, humans...This is the collective architectural and artistic works of the village community. The Rong house is often 10m long, 4m wide, 15 - 16m high, but some houses are only 7-8m high.. The diversities in the architectural styles of each ethnic group in the Highlands is also the structure of the house. The Rong house of the Highlands’s people does not use iron and steel. The joins are cut very carefully and then use the rattans and bamboo strips to bind. Each binding part of each ethnic group is different. For the stairs to go up the Rong house, ethnic groups usually cut from 7 to 9 steps. On the top of each stair of different ethnic groups, Ba Na people’s is the shape of Don vegetable, Ja Rai people’ s is gourd containing water, Xe Dang, Je Trieng people’s are gongs’ knobs, hoods, in some Rong houses, on the top knob of the stair, there is the shape of the chest o f a young unmarried girl.. From the inauguration of the Rong house, unmarried men have to sleep here to protect. Therefore, the folk architecture of the Rong house is unique and each ethnic group own their different style. Very skillful hands, intelligence, and efforts of the whole community build all. The Rong house is attached to the mentality, sensitivity and social activities, religions of the Highlands’s people. We will miss a lot when going far away from the Rong house and when we vi sit the Rong house, it is very happy. The Rong house is the heart of the mountain village that will never be fainted in the mind of the Highlands’s people.

Highlands’s people regard the Rong house, or the house on stilts as the brave soul of the heaven and earth accumulating to pr otect the village people, therefore, in each communal house there is one holy place to worship holy things, sometimes only a knife, a stone or a buffalo’s horn… The Rong house is one of the important elements forming the highlands cultural character. It is important because beside its material values, it is also the place keeping the sustainable cultural spiritual soul of the highlands people. It is not only the spirit but it is also the blood, sweat, tears, the glory, pride, repercussion of great desires of humans before the nature, universe. People assess the prosperity of a highlands village through the Rong house. The Rong house only attaches to villages because there is no communal house at provincial, district levels or inter-village communal houses because it attaches to the daily activities and religions of a fixed community.

The Rong house is the place where folk festivals take place and welcome honored guests to visit the mountain village. The Rong house is the gathering place of village patriarchs, judging suits, disputes related to the community. The Rong house is the place for the youth (girls and boys) to meet, declare their love to each other, and join in wedlock. According to the customs here, young single man and women, even the widows, or divorced women have to sleep at the Rong house at night. Although being close to each other, stealthy love affairs among village mountain girls and boys have never happened because of the strict customs and being punished heavily by local laws. People often call a village without the Rong house the “woman village”, in other words, it is similar to mention an unfinished village. This is only a very simple collection of unspiritual houses, in which there are people with souls, they are not really humans, because people only become humans when souls are thrown into bodies but as for Highlands people, the human soul means the village soul. The Rong house is regarded as the village soul where gathering the brave soul of the heaven and earth, mountain and forests and keeping the holy values of the village. The village has the Rong house as being added vitality. According to the traditional mindset of the ethnic people, the communal house is an indispensable element in the community life (village culture). The Rong house covers every quintessence of cultural creativities of humans in the natural ecosystem. It is both mighty and contains latent spiritual elements and is the symbol of forest culture and the strong attachment between the human community and the nature. The Rong house is the miniature of traditional cultural components of a village and a group of people. It plays the most important part in the people’s mindset and the real daily lives of the entire people in the community. Village - the Rong house - festivals of ethnic minority people have a strong attachment. The village culture produces festival and Rong house cultures and traditional folk festivals, which honor the power of the Rong house while the Rong house is the condition and the climate to show festivals. Both exist and decide each other. Meanwhile, festivals are the living places of almost every type of ancient folk cultures, arts from rituals, customs to folk performances, national music instruments, clothes, languages behaviors…...therefore; the Rong house plays the more important role in the cultural activiti es in the community. The Rong house both has tangible (appearance) values and intangible (contents, place showing festivals) values. The images of flickering fireplaces, jars of wine drunk out of through pipes ( Ruou Can) bound in lines in two sides of the fireplaces. The strong and moving sounds of gongs, and rotary dances and radiant faces of village patriarchs, girls and boys at the festivals in the communal house present a warm, ordinary cultural space, gathering in the strong attachment of the community to form the unique, diversified cultural character under the roof of the Rong house. Going along the myths of ancient epics, I take pains to the highlands to wallow in the space of the Rong house where gathering the entire spiritual culture of the village, which is considered the holy element in the daily life of the ethnic people in the highlands both spiritual and physical life.

Two type of Rong houses appearing in the Highlands include: male Rong house and female Rong house. The male Rong house, in Jarai language called Rong to nao, has big towering roofs. Some houses are 30m high. The male communal house is decorated very carefully. The female Rong house being called Rong Ana, is small and has low roofs. The appearance outside and inside the Rong house is simpler. The columns of the house are decorated with colorful patterns expressing the religious, worshipping features, myths of ancient brave men, stylized beasts, things, daily activities that is close to the village people. The outstanding feature in the decoration of the Rong house is the image of the bright sun. The more beautiful and bigger the Rong house is, the more prosperous and stronger the village is. The Rong house is one of the typical cultural heritage, closely attached to the history of ethnic groups of the Highlands with simple techniques, diversified architectures to create special beauty of manners, it is not only impressed by its beautiful manner and special decorations but it is also fascinated by its habits of using, and containing special spiritual values which are holy, deep in the mind of each member in the whole community. The Rong house is an outstanding and unique cultural design, which has very important meanings in spiritual culture, social life and belief, spirits of the ethnic people in the Highlands. It is a precious heritage today and in the future. If the Highlands’s people can keep the Rong house – the heart of the village people where keeping the myths of epics and stimulating the creativity of new myths , the ethnic groups in the Highlands can keep for themselves a diversified spiritual life which gets close to the tradition but also achieve the new values suitable for the tendency of social development.

E DE LONG

The E De long house is not a communal house, but a dwelling. Yet it is also more than that. It is a place for cultural activities and fun as well as work, and it is a central feature of the E De people’s matriarchal society. Dotted all over the Central Highlands, one can find long houses of many types. But the houses of the E De ethnic group are especially long – as long, they say, as the vibration of the gong or the echo of the buffalo horn. It is here that Khan (E De epics) are recited, lullabies are sung, judicial cases are decided, and gallons of ruou can wine are drunk through long, bamboo straws. It is also here that the important life cycle ritual and the rice ritual are performed. Understanding these and the other functions of the E De long house can give us a more comlete understanding of the life and specific characteristics of this ethnic group. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the E De is that they are a matriarchal society, and the structure of the long house reflects this. The house is made up of a common room at one end and a series of bedrooms, each of which has a small kitchen and items for daily use. The bedroom nearest the back yard belongs to the matriarch, who also manages family activities. When she dies, her position is taken up by her youngest daughter, and this is the reason why the youngest

daughter occupies the room next to her mother. The other bedrooms are occupied by the other married daughters and their families, and finally, any unmarried daughters and sons. As many as 7 to 9 nuclear families live together, each with their own bedroom; the length of the long house is a good indicator as to how many married daughters the family has. The E De long house also reflects the lifestyle of the family and is used to show the wealth and rank of the family within the community. The front yard is often used for pounding rice and siting and chatting with family members after a working day. If the family is rich, the yard will have two moon chairs. On the porch, there are two wooden staircases: one for guests and one for the family, both carved with two breasts and perhaps the image of a bird couple or the moon. Upon entering the house, one comes upon an ample living room (called the Ga) where both family and community activities take place. In a rich family, this is where the most expensive items are kept, including a set of gongs played in festivals and family worship and a long chair called a Kopan which is dug out of the trunk of a whole tree. Then come the private rooms, ending in the matriarch’s room where there is a pillar dedicated to the worship of the god Giang. Finally the back porch and yard are used by the family only. Building a long house requires much effort and planning. The matriarch invites a shaman to choose the best area and orientation for the house. Traditionally the most desirable setup is to place the house near a river, situated on an East-West axis. The entrance door and stairs at either end must be located in such a way as to avoid the northeast wind in the dry season and the southwest wind in the wet season. A new house is often around 3m wide, 5m long, and 4m high. The house is made entirely of forest products, like wood, bamboo, and grass, and the roof is specially constructed to reduce the heat of midday. Because of the effort and cost involved, the E De prefer lengthening an existing long house to building a new one. Besides, living together in a long house encourages love and mutual assistance among the inhabitants.

Old E De Woman Every detail in the long house serves a purpose, whether for daily life, spiritual life, or family pride. It is a central feature of E De culture, and must be conserved if E De culture itself is to be honored.

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