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Dec 9, 2014

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam covers 5 provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong. The masters of gong culture are the ethnic groups of Ba Na, Xo Dang, M’Nong, Co Ho, Ro Mam, E De, Gia Rai… The gong performances are always closely tied to community cultural rituals and ceremonies of the ethnic groups in Central Highlands. Many researchers have classified gongs as ceremonial musical instrument and the gong sounds as a means to communicate with deities and gods. 
The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam
Old artists
The gongs are made of brass alloy or a mixture of brass and gold, silver, bronze. Their diameter is from 20cm to 60cm or from 90cm to 120cm. A set of gongs consists of 2 to 12 or 13 units and even to 18 or 20 units in some places. 

In most of ethnic groups, namely Gia Rai, Ede Kpah, Ba Na, Xo Dang, Brau, Co Ho, etc., only males are allowed to play gongs. However, in others such as Ma and M’Nong groups, both males and females can play gongs. Few ethnic groups (for example, E De Bih), gongs are performed by women only.
As for the majority of ethnic groups in Central Highlands, gongs are musical instruments of sacred power. It is believed that every gong is the settlement of a god who gets more powerful as the gong is older. "God of gong" is always considered as the tutelary deity for the community’s life. Therefore, gongs are associated to all rites in one’s life, such as the inauguration of new houses, funerals, buffalo sacrifice, crop praying rite, new harvest, ceremony to pray for people’s and cattle’s health, ceremony to see-off soldiers to the front, and the victory celebration. 

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam
In Central Highlands, gongs are often performed in the form of orchestra. Gong orchestras adopt a natural sound-scale as the foundation for theirs. Depending on different ethnic groups, a gong orchestra can consist of 3, 5 or 6 primary sounds. However, as a polyphonic musical instrument, gongs often have some additional sounds apart from their basic ones. In fact, a six-gong orchestra can produce more or less 12 different sounds. So, gong sounds are heard resonant and solid. Moreover, a gong orchestra is arranged in a broad space, so the melody is formed by three-dimensional sounds with different pitch, length and resonance. It is the stereophonic effect - an original phenomenon of gong performance.
The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands are heritage with temporal and spatial imprints. Through its categories, sound-amplifying method, sound scale and gamut, tunes and performance art, we will have an insight in a complicated art developing from simple to complexity, from single to multi-channel. It contains different historical layers of the development of music since the primitive period. All artistic values have the relationships of similarities and dissimilarities, bringing about their regional identities. With its diversity and originality, it’s possible to confirm that gongs hold a special status in Viet Nam’s traditional music.
The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

On November 25, 2005 in Paris, France, the space of gong culture in Central Highlands was recognized by UNESCO as an oral-transmitted masterpiece and intangible cultural heritage of the humanity.

Gongs are usually performed on the occasions

Gong Festival: held alternately annually (non-priodical holding) in the Central Highlands provinces of Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Lam Dong, Kon Tum. In the festival, the artists from the provinces will present, perform the space of gong culture of their own province.

Elephant Race Festival in Don Village: held in March every odd year in Don Village (Krong Na Commune, Buon Don District, Dak Lak Province). 
The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

Central Highlands Spring Festival: lasting January to March every year in the ethnic villages in the Central Highlands 
The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

Some places of gong performances in Central Highland: 

1. KonKoTu Village – Cultural Village of Ba Na ethnic group (Dak Ro Wa Commune, about 8km from Kon Tum City);
2. Mang Den Ecotourism Site (Dak Long Commune, Kon Plong District, Kon Tum Province);
3. Plei Op Culture – Tourism Village (Hoa Lu Ward, Pleiku City) and To Nung Village (Ya Ma Commune, Kong Chro District) in Gia Lai Province;
4. Buon Don Tourist Centre (Tri A Village, Krong Na Commune, Buon Don District, Dak Lak Province);
5. Jun Village, Lak Lake Tourist Site (Lien Son Town, Lak District, Dak Lak Province);
6. Doi Mong Mo Tourist Area (No.5 Mai Anh Dao St., Ward 8, Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province);
7. Some gong clubs in Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province:

Đăng Jrung
Bon Đưng I Quarter
84 - 919009475
Ki ốt
Bon Đưng I Quarter
84 - 918438078
Bon Dơng
Bon Đưng I Quarter
84 - 918772509
Dà M’ôit
Bon Đưng I Quarter
84 - 915845819
Dà Plah
Bon Đưng II Quarter
84 - 633839263
Jồ Rơng
Bon Đưng II Quarter
84 - 633839550
Kring Bla
Bon Đưng II  Quarter
84 - 938631181
Hoa Lang Biang
Đăng Gia  Quarter
84 - 918128676
Cultural Family Club
Lang Biang Tourist Site
84 - 903630457
Lang Biang Tourist Site
 Lang Biang Tourist Site
84 - 918695109

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

Other post from Vietnam Beauty


Throughout the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, Gong ensembles are parts of various ceremonies and closely linked to the communities’ daily life and the cycle of the seasons. The instruments, measuring 25 to 80 centimetres, are played by men as well as women.
The culture space of the Gongs of central Vietnam is about original musical forms, which are performed against the background of the linguistic and ethnic diversity of the region. Diversity is also found in the compositions and customs of the Gong ensembles, in their performance techniques, in the musical genres and in the ritual functions of the gongs.
In the realm of Vietnam’s musical instruments, the gongs are very well-known for their outstanding value and regarded as the privileged language bridging humanity and the supernatural world. The gongs are made from a mixture of bronze and silver, with some distinctive features. The peoples living in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam possess many sets of gongs, which would be performed differently. A set of gongs consists of two to twenty units. 

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

Culture Value

The most outstanding value of gong culture showcases masterpieces of human creativity. The masters of gong culture are the ethnic people of the Central Highlands. Although they can not cast gongs themselves, they raise the value of a product into an excellent musical instrument with their sensitive ears and musical soul. In the hands of talented folk artistants, each gong plays the role of a musical note in an orchestra to perform different pieces of gong music.
As for ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands, gongs and gong culture present a means to affirm the community and its cultural identities. As time went by, gongs have become an attractive and appealing symbol of the culture of the Central Highlands. It is an activity associated with cultural and spiritual life, and beliefs of ethnic people when they are born, grown up and return to the soil. 

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam


The Central Highlands gong comes from long-standing historical and cultural traditions. In the past, community of people in the Central Highlands knew how to play the gong. Its sound is either deep or strong, moving and combining with the sounds of streams, wind and the hearts of people so that it can live with the heaven, the earth and people in the Central Highlands.
However, different ethnic minority groups arrange different orchestras. Listening to the sound of the gong, people in the Central Highland can know which ethnic group is playing.
Gong players in the majority of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands are male. Only in a minority of ethnic groups in the region, gong players are female.

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

Visual description of the picture  

It is a bright sunny day and a group of seven men are outside playing brown tambourines. Only five of the seven men are clearly visible. Their bodies describe a semi-circle facing the left of the picture. They all wear calm expressions. Each man holds the tambourine in his right hand, hitting it with a short thick piece of wood held in the left. The tambourines all have white characters written on them. All the men are wearing the same costume: a dark-blue long-sleeved shirt with multicoloured cuffs and a red square piece of material with golden buttons down the front. Some of the men wear caps; the first man from left to right wears a yellow cap, the second from right wears a blue cap. In the background we can see a forest with blue sky just visible through the dense foiliage of the trees. Smoke is spiralling upwards from the dirt floor. On the far left of the frame we can see the entrance to a hut.

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

The Central Highlands’ gongs, together with the epics, the treasure of folklore, folk sculpture and folk knowledge, constitute the unique cultural heritage that have attached to the life of the highlanders for over thousand years.


For most visitors who ascend to these altitudes, the main target is Da Lat, an erstwhile French mountain retreat that appears very romantic from afar, when the mists roll over its pine-crested hilltops, though some find it disappointing close-up, with its dreary architecture and tacky tourist trappings. The city itself is not without its charms, among them a bracing climate, some beguiling colonial buildings, picturesque bike rides and a market overflowing with delectable fruits and vegetables.

Heading north from Da Lat, you’ll pass pretty Lak Lake, an attractive body of water surrounded by minority villages. Then comes a series of gritty highland towns whose reputations rest less on tourist sights than on the villages and open terrain that ring them. First comes Buon Ma Thuot, a surprisingly busy place considering its far-flung location. While the city itself has little to detain the visitor, the surrounding waterfalls and E De minority villages certainly do; it’s also the gateway for treks into Yok Don National Park.
Pleiku to the north is another less-than-lovely city, though again encircled with a ring of delightful minority villages – this time Jarai and Bahnar. Further north again is Kon Tum, by far the most attractive and relaxing of these three provincial capitals; you’ll be able to take in three Bahnar villages on an afternoon’s walk from the city centre, and mop up a few other minority groups farther afield.

The Jarai and Bahnar are merely the major chunks of the highlands’ patchwork of ethnic minorities. Cocooned in woolly jumpers, scarves and bobble hats, the highlanders exude a warmth unsurpassed elsewhere in the country, and are the undoubted highlight of a trip through the area. However, many groups are struggling to maintain their identities in the face of persistent pressure from Hanoi to assimilate – a number of rather large protests have taken place since the turn of the 21st century, with the central government’s reactions widely criticised by international governments and human rights groups (see Post–reunification). Sensitive to the minority rights issue, the Vietnamese authorities only opened this region to foreigners in 1993, and while you’re free to travel independently between the major cities, visiting one of the highlands’ many minority villages independently can be difficult: in most cases you’ll need to go through a local tourist office (and pay handsomely for the privilege). In each area, it’s best to double-check the current regulations, especially concerning overnight stays in villages.

Your highland experience will vary enormously depending upon when you visit. The dry season runs from November through to April. To see the region at its atmospheric best, it’s better to go in the wet season, May to October, although at this time the rain can make some outlying villages inaccessible


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