Van Kieu ethnic group

(VOVworld) – The Van Kieu group live mainly in Huong Hoa and Dakrong commune and Lao Bao township. The Van Kieu are also called Tri, Khua, Ma Coong, and Bru. During the war Van Kieu people wholeheartedly followed the revolution and President Ho Chi Minh and adopted Ho as their family name.

Van Kieu ethnic group - ảnh 1
Farm tools of the Van Kieu
Van Kieu lives depend on farm work. They prefer land in thick forest with less wind to grow rice, maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, and gourds. They raise pigs, cows, buffalos, and chickens. The Van Kieu have built houses along Highway 9 and several scattered families live in the mountains near rivers and springs. The Van Kieu family is patriarchal and the eldest man is the head of the family. When he dies, his power and assets transfer to his eldest son. The dutiful son-in-law worships the relatives of his wife.

The Van Kieu have a rich cultural and artistic heritage. They have many kinds of musical instrument such as gongs, Ta Lu, Ke Amam, Pi panpipe, jew’s harp, drums, and flutes. They have several oral legends about their origin and the origins of family clans.  Nguyen Huu Thang, Director of the Quang Tri provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, talked to VOV about the folk songs of the Van Kieu:

“The Van Kieu culture is unique. They have many typical folk melodies, for example, flirting songs for young people. They have songs to celebrate the rice harvest, a new crop, a house warming, or a buffalo sacrifice. We have organized festivals to preserve and promote ethnic melodies and encourage people to teach and learn folk songs.”

Van Kieu ethnic group - ảnh 2
Smoking is a habit of both male and female Van Kieu

The Van Kieu worship their ancestors and genies of rice, kitchen, mountain, earth, and water. Genie altars are placed inside the houses and in the forest to pray for favorable weather and bumper crops. The rice genie is the most honored figure. They have to ask the rice genie’s permission before each harvest and thank the rice mother after each harvest. 

The Van Kieu are hospitable and honest. They believe that a family with overnight guests will enjoy good luck and prosperity. Whenever a family has guests, all the villagers come to see them.

They eat whatever they can grow or collect in the forest. The village often holds get-togethers to celebrate a new crop or rice harvest, where they drink alcohol, sing, and dance. Ho Thanh Binh is a Van Kieu in Quang Tri: “We play traditional musical instruments at rituals and festivals. We play gongs at worship. All villagers gather to pray for good crops. Happy people have to dance and sing.”

The Van Kieu live in long stilt houses, whose size depends on the number of family members and their economic conditions. The two ends of the roof might be decorated with a pair of buffalo horns or two birds. Inside the house, from right to left, the first space is the living room, then spaces for grandparents, parents, children, and stores separated by partitions.

A wood stove for cooking is always lit. In the winter they place another stove in the living room to keep warm.

When they move into a new stilt house they carefully choose the day and time and perform many rituals to thank heaven, the house genie, their ancestors, and fellow villagers for their help.

The Van Kieu of Quang Tri continue to honor traditional customs and rituals in their everyday life.