Wooden sculptures play key roles in life and death

The province's Bahnar and Jrai ethnic groups' Pơ Thi or Bỏ Mả ceremony is held one to three years after someone dies to ask for the dead's permission to let the living move the corpse to a new tomb.

Normally at this time of year, communities in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai would be busy preparing for important rituals.

Of course, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, large gatherings across the country have been cancelled, but that doesn't mean all parts of the rituals have to end, particularly sculpting statues.

The province'sBahnar and Jrai ethnic groups' Pơ Thi or Bỏ Mả ceremony isheld one to three years after someone dies to ask for the dead's permission to let the living move the corpse to a new tomb.

The living would then move the corpse to a permanent tomb from the temporary tomb they left the dead in after the funeral.

Local sculptors work on woodpreparing for the big ceremony

The two groups believe that after somebody dies, their soul remains wandering around and there are still connections between the living and the dead.

The living still bring food and clean the temporary tomb after the funeral. Only after one or three years, when a worship ceremony is conducted, can the corpse be moved into a permanent tomb, allowing the dead to step into a new world, completely at peace and waiting to be reborn into another life.

The community would then decorate the new tomb with wooden sculptures so the dead feel as if they are still living within the community.

According to Hoàng Thanh Hương, deputy director of Gia Lai Province’s Education Department, who has researched the sculptures of the Bahnar and Jrai ethnic groups in the province, there are two types of wood sculptures.

The first type is the sculptures put at tombs, which are only made after Bỏ Mả ceremony.

The second type is put at tourism sites, parks and communal houses for decoration.

Folk sculptures put in a park in Gia Lai Province. 

According to her survey of 177 villages in the province, there are some 1,500 wooden statues made by people from the groups.

ResearcherHoàng Thanh Hương (right) introducesfolk sculptures in Ốp Village's communal house, in Pleiku City. 

“The sculptures bear the cultural identity of the groups,” said Nguyễn Quang Tuệ, head of Culture Heritage Management Department. “Some who make the wooden sculptures have been awarded title Meritorious Artisans."

 

The artisans, who are mostly elderly, understand the groups’ culture thoroughly and have lots of experience.

They use only knives, hammers, chisels to cut the wood and the finished products often reflect locals’ daily lives.

Artisan Ksor Krôh carves on a piece ofwood.

Meritorious Artisan Ksor Krôh, from Chư Păh District, said he first made the sculptures when he was small, following his father's footsteps.

“The handicraft has become my passion as I love my group’s culture,” he said.

He also teaches the youngsters in his village how to make the sculptures.

People take photos with wooden sculptures at Đồng Xanh Park, Pleiku City. 

Artisan Ksor HNao, from Kep Village, Pleiku City in Gia Lai Province, said he has combined his group’s wooden sculpture tradition with advertising Việt Nam and Gia Lai.

He has made various sculptures to decorate his restaurant.

“Many guests like my sculptures, especially foreigners,” he said. “They have bought a lot to bring home as a souvenir from the region.”

Many restaurants in the city are decorated with sculptures.

Nguyễn Đức Hoàng, deputy director of Gia Lai Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said the agency has encouraged localities in the province to host ethnic groups’ cultural contests, where sculptors can show off their capabilities and encourage kids to get involved.

The agency has also worked with the local Industry and Commerce Department as well as local tourism companies to produce miniature folk wooden sculptures to sell to tourists as souvenirs, he said. — VNS

Artists promote ceramic art through their sculptures

Artists promote ceramic art through their sculptures

Seven artists from the Sai Gon Ceramic Arts Group are showing 170 ceramic sculptures depicting life, people and love in at the HCM City Fine Arts Museum.

 
 

Other News

.
Flute kites: A way to create a symphony in the sky
Flute kites: A way to create a symphony in the sky
YOUR VIETNAMicon  03/03/2020 

Kite flying is a popular childhood game for many Vietnamese people in rural areas.

Ancestral worship ritual of the Dao
Ancestral worship ritual of the Dao
YOUR VIETNAMicon  01/03/2020 

Like other ethnic groups, the Dao in Vietnam’s northwestern region worship their ancestors devotedly.

Soya sauce – a delicacy of Hung Yen
Soya sauce – a delicacy of Hung Yen
PHOTOSicon  24/02/2020 

Tương Bần (Ban soya sauce) has been a delicacy of northern Vietnam since the end of the 19th century. It is a delicacy found in Ban Yen Nhan Ward in My Hao Town, Hung Yen province.

Northern village helps make unique folk singing thrive again
Northern village helps make unique folk singing thrive again
YOUR VIETNAMicon  23/02/2020 

Dong Mon village in Hai Phong city is known as the cradle of Ca Tru (ceremonial) singing in Vietnam’s northern coastal region.

Unique century-old house in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Unique century-old house in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
PHOTOSicon  22/02/2020 

Until now, the house has become a must-visit cultural site when foreign visitors arrive in Hanoi.

Young chef preserves traditional Hanoi cuisine
Young chef preserves traditional Hanoi cuisine
YOUR VIETNAMicon  22/02/2020 

I first met Nguyen Phuong Hai in Hanoi a month ago when he was holding a class to teach people how to make bánh chưng (square sticky rice cake). 

The octogenarian shoemaker in Saigon
The octogenarian shoemaker in Saigon
YOUR VIETNAMicon  19/02/2020 

At the age of 88, Trinh Ngoc still makes handmade leather shoes everyday. His store in HCMC’s District 3 has served both local and foreign guests for decades.

Pi Le panpipe, a traditional musical instrument of the Giay
Pi Le panpipe, a traditional musical instrument of the Giay
YOUR VIETNAMicon  18/02/2020 

The Giay in Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province, have a rich culture that includes music and musical instrument. The Pi Le clarinet is a typical woodwind instrument of the Giay.

Rice cooking contest in Hanoi's Thi Cam village
Rice cooking contest in Hanoi's Thi Cam village
YOUR VIETNAMicon  17/02/2020 

On the 8th day of the first lunar month each year, Thi Cam village in Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem district holds a rice cooking contest. 

Traditional ceremony marks coming of age
Traditional ceremony marks coming of age
YOUR VIETNAMicon  15/02/2020 

The ceremony has been held for hundreds of years, honouring the principles of marriage, family happiness and uniting people in their family and community.

Co Tu ritual pays gratitude to forest
Co Tu ritual pays gratitude to forest
YOUR VIETNAMicon  09/02/2020 

Expressing gratitude to the forests is an original tradition of the Co Tu in Tay Giang district, Quang Nam province.

Dong Ho – An outstanding folk painting genre
Dong Ho – An outstanding folk painting genre
YOUR VIETNAMicon  27/01/2020 

Dong Ho village in Song Ho commune of Thuan Thanh district, the northern province of Bac Ninh, is known as the cradle of one of the most famous folk painting genres of Vietnam.

“Lay co” – a unique tradition of Tay and Nung people in Lang Son
“Lay co” – a unique tradition of Tay and Nung people in Lang Son
YOUR VIETNAMicon  27/01/2020 

Together with sli and luon singing, “lay co” folk game has been indispensable at any gathering, especially during the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, of the Tay and Nung ethnic groups in Lang Son and many other provinces.

Ancestor worship reminds people of their roots
Ancestor worship reminds people of their roots
YOUR VIETNAMicon  27/01/2020 

Ancestor worship, an ancient Vietnamese tradition, is a ritual practice paying tribute to deceased family members and reminding people of their roots.

Y Yen bronze casting village keeps furnaces burning
Y Yen bronze casting village keeps furnaces burning
YOUR VIETNAMicon  27/01/2020 

Tong Xa bronze casting village in Yen Xa commune, Nam Dinh province, is a center of the traditional bronze casting craft. For nearly 900 years, bronze casting has been preserved and developed by the village.

Tet of the San Diu ethnic minority group
Tet of the San Diu ethnic minority group
YOUR VIETNAMicon  26/01/2020 

The San Diu ethnic minority group, who live in northern mountainous areas with a population of nearly 147,000, celebrate quite a lot of festivals the most important of which is Tet, the lunar New Year festival.

Vietnamese preserve tomb-sweeping tradition
Vietnamese preserve tomb-sweeping tradition
YOUR VIETNAMicon  25/01/2020 

Vietnamese families often visit their ancestors’ tombs and clean gravesites whenever the Lunar New Year (Tet) comes, normally from the 23rd of the last month of the lunar year to New Year’s Eve.

Tet fruit tray, indispensible part of Vietnamese culture
Tet fruit tray, indispensible part of Vietnamese culture
YOUR VIETNAMicon  25/01/2020 

A “Mam Ngu Qua” or five-fruit tray is indispensable for each Vietnamese family among the numerous offerings required to decorate ancestral altars during the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

Traditional Tet food offerings to ancestors
Traditional Tet food offerings to ancestors
YOUR VIETNAMicon  25/01/2020 

During the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival, each ethnic group in Vietnam has its own culinary specialties that reflect the culture of their people and are used as offerings to worship their ancestors.

“Xong Dat” – A cherished Lunar New Year tradition
“Xong Dat” – A cherished Lunar New Year tradition
YOUR VIETNAMicon  25/01/2020 

Passing down through generations and continued with equal enthusiasm today, “Xong dat” (first footing), a Tet tradition in Vietnam, has always been associated with hopes for a fruitful year ahead.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN