The Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam
The Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 25, 2005. In general, gongs are considered to be sacred instruments. They are mainly used in offerings, rituals, funerals, wedding ceremonies, New Year’s festivities, agricultural rites, victory celebrations, etc.
Today, AMX Newsletter continues giving you an English program from VOV about the Vietnamese instrument.
Members of a Gong Club in Nghia Thang commune, Nghe An province.
The Tho ethnic minority live in mountain communes in Nghe An and Thanh Hoa province. They have maintained their traditional costumes, folk singing, and dancing. Gong playing is an important part of their culture.
The ancestors of the Tho lived in dense forests. When wild animals threatened their village, they would beat gongs to scare them away. They believed the sound of gongs could also chase away evil spirits. In their free time and during festivals they played their gongs and sang to entertain themselves.
Gongs are still considered by the Tho to be sacred items that connect them with the deities and the souls of their ancestors. They play gongs at all community events, including the New Year Festival, the New Rice Ceremony, and the Going to the Field Festival. A Gong Festival at the beginning of each new year chases away evil spirits helps to ensure another year of health, peace, and sufficiency for the whole village.
Truong Thi Ly of Nghia Xuan commune, Nghe An province, said: “The music of the Tho is boisterous. When I hear the sound of gongs, I immediately want to join the festival.”
A set of gongs includes 4 gongs hung on a frame arranged from smallest to biggest. Le Thi Dung, a gong player who lives in Thang Son village, Thanh Hoa province, said: “At a festival, the women play the gongs and the men play drums. At any happy or sad event, we always play gongs. We want to preserve this culture for our children.”
Truong Thi Luu is one of the best gong players in Cao village. She said she learned to play gongs when she was 5 or 6 years old. When she was 14, she could play many traditional gong melodies.
“We play a slow beat for lăng vông dancing. Then we change to a faster and stronger beats as if we were accompanying hip hop dancing. We play gongs at weddings, worship ceremonies, or longevity ceremonies. These are happy events with many guests. The sound of the gongs echoes far into the forest,” Luu said.
The Tho have a different gong melody for each event. Gongs give them a voice with which to speak to the heaven, the earth, the forests, and the mountains. Gongs even help young people express their feelings and find a partner.
For more details, please contact:
Nguyen Quang Vinh via email Vinhnq40@gmail.com,
Đặng Mai Phương via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanh Hai via email email@example.com