Unique color of the Co Tu ethnic group

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(QNO) - The Co Tu is one of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam. They have a population of 62,000 and live mainly in the Truong Son range in central Vietnam and in certain neighborhoods of Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh city.

A Co Tu house
A Co Tu house

The Co Tu people are concentrated in the three districts of Nam Giang, Dong Giang and Tay Giang in Quang Nam province. Their wooden houses are scattered in the woods and retain the typical characteristics of the Co Tu. Their Guol thatch roofs ascend to the sky, symbolizing prosperity and peace. The Guol houses are built in the shape of a conical hat or tortoise shell. The Co Tu communal houses are not very tall, which is different from the Rong houses of other ethnic groups in Vietnam’s central highlands. Decorations on the houses are important and include images of buffaloes, birds, lizards, and dancing girls. Bhling Bheh of B’Hong hamlet told VOV: “Guol houses play an important role in the lives of the Co Tu people and are considered sacred places and the soul of the village. If a village does not have a Guol house, it means there is no house”.

Buffalo-stabbing ritual.
Buffalo-stabbing ritual.

The Co Tu people used to live close to the nature, clearing trees for cultivation and hunting in the Truong Son mountain range. They believe in ancient gods and offer them buffaloes in worshiping rituals.

According to Co Tu tradition, after receiving offerings from the villagers, the gods will protect the villagers and drive away forest spirits. The Co Tu buffalo – stabbing festival prays for favorable weather, a bumper crop, happiness, and prosperity. Before the buffalo – stabbing ritual, a village elder hosts a ceremony to worship the buffalo in the yard of Guol house. BLing Blo of Nam Giang told us: “The worshipping ceremony should include offerings of fish, mice, squirrels, chickens and grilled meat. All the villagers should be involved in the preparations. The person who is in charge of stabbing the buffalo should offer a chicken. When the buffalo falls down, he should throw the chicken on the upper part of the buffalo’s tail”.  
A tray of offerings to the gods.
A tray of offerings to the gods.
During communal activities, the Co Tu people speak or sing Ly, a distinctive improvisational art genre, which has been passed from generation to generation.Ly speaking and singing is performed both at festivals and in daily life. The language used is diverse and contains implications. Bhriu Trinh, head of Bo Hong hamlet, told: “The elderly people sing Ly very well, teaching the younger generation to concentrate on working and upholding community tradition. Useful customs should be preserved, while obsolete ones should be eliminated”.LAN ANH