The Central Highlands, home to a wide variety of ethnic minorities, is one of the most famous and favored destinations in many central Vietnam cultural tours. It is a land of epic tradition and a “birthplace” of Rong houses (communal houses).
The central highlands’ ethnic minority’s Rong house is recognized as a great artwork of sculpture, art, decoration and especially the expression of sacred space, community strength, national pride and soul of the village. Looking at the Rong house, tourists are able to appreciate the delicate painting and sculpture abilities of artisans, together with the wealth of the village.
Rong house – the cultural symbol of ethnic minorities
The priceless symbol of Central highland Community (Source: Google)
Similar to the Vietnamese communal house, the Rong house is a special place where all communal activities take place. It is the headquarters of the village administration as well as a host of religious activities, beliefs and guest houses. Moreover, the Rong house is not only a place where community spirits are celebrated, but also where the old generations of artisans pass down cultural values to the young ones traditional. Visitors also have chances to admire many valuable and familiar traditional artifacts displayed inside Rong houses such as gongs, drums, weapons, heads of animals sacrificed during festivals.
The Central Highlanders believe that the Rong house is a sacred place of heaven and earth to protect their people, so that each house preserves a holy space to worship holy simple objects such as a stone, a knife or a buffalo horn. Apart from material value, this unique type of stilt houses cherishes many strong spiritual layers of a village and a community. It is the tears, blood, sweat, glory, pride and noble aspirations of man before nature and universe.
Besides, people often evaluate the mighty power of a highland village through the prosperity of Rong houses. The Rong is associated only with the village, with no communal or provincial communal houses, because it is attached to the activities and beliefs of a certain community.
Rong house – the glory of Central Highland’s unique architecture
The peak of Central Highland’s distinctive architecture (Source: Google)
Another thing that strongly impresses explorers when visiting a typical Rong house during a central Vietnam cultural tour is its one-of-a-kind architecture.
A traditional Rong house is designed with two roofs, where the top of which has a pair of horns. If you are observing carefully, you will be amazed by a discreet special decorative strip running along the roof. The floors are often made of bamboo trees – the famous natural material of highlanders. In the middle of the house there is a line of balustrades which is used to be the supported place of Rượu Cần ( a type of wine drunk out of a jar through pipes) during festivals. Decorative patterns on the walls are red and blue.
In addition, villagers often decorate the Rong’s inner surroundings with complicated and elaborate carvings such as buffalo horns, eight-wing stars, rhombus, birds and human. This is an architectural and artistic collective of the village community.
When it comes to set up a new village, which is the most important event in the community life, the oldest, most experienced and wisest, the most adept in the mountains, the living history of the community, on behalf of the village, is responsible for finding the right land and choosing the most beautiful location for the village’s Rong house.
According to tradition, the construction of the Rong house must follow formal rituals. Since the preparation stage of the house, the village elders gathered all the best people in the village to meet and discuss in great details. They spend weeks, even months, to choose the place where the Rong house is going to be built. An ideal Rong house must be in a high place and cool in the sunny season as well as warm in the rainy season, located in the center of the village. The area must be flat and wide enough to gather at least three times the number of people in the village.
The diversity in the architecture of each ethnic group in the Central Highlands also lies in the structure of the house. The Tay Nguyen people do not use steel to construct their Rong house. Instead, they tie each joint by the natural material – bamboo trees.
Furthermore, stairway leading to the Rong House is usually hewed from 7 to 9 steps. At the top of the stairs of each different ethnic group is a different shape: the Ba Na’s is the shape of a vegetable, the Ja Rai is a water gourd, the Xe Dang, Jie Trieng is the gong’s knob and even female breast.
An indispensable place of many village activities and festivals (Source: Google)
The Rong House is a typical and unique cultural institution of great significance in the spiritual culture, social life and spirituality of the Central Highlanders as well as a precious heritage for today and tomorrow. Keeping the Rong house means keeping the “heart” of the village, where ancient myths are kept and a place to rekindle the fire of creating “new myths”. A central Vietnam cultural tour is certain to provide tourists with a detailed insight about how Tay Nguyen ethnic people keep their rich and varied spiritual life, deeply rooted in tradition but also reaching new values in line with the upward trend of society.