The space of Gong culture in Central Highlands, Vietnam

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The space of Gong culture in Central Highlands, Vietnam

vietnam visa   The space of Gong culture in Central Highlands, Vietnam 

Vietnam is a country where is divided into many regions and each one also has its own cultural point. If you once have come to the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, you must be heard the gong culture. Its fame has crossed national borders to become a property of all human beings. Specific values of the cultural space of the Central Highlands Gong which is a part of Vietnam’s cultural heritage and quintessence has been recognised by the international community. On 25th November 2005, the UNESCO decided to recognize “The cultural space of Gong in the Central Highlands” of Vietnam as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.

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… In the Central Highlands, the gong performances are always closely tied to community cultural rituals, ceremonies of the ethnic groups and 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. Many researchers have classified gongs as ceremonial musical instrument and the gong sounds as a means to communicate with deities and gods.

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 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.

Gongs are often performed in the form of orchestra which helps 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.

A performance of Gong culture is a bright sunny day with 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 you 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 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. I hope that after applying Vietnam visa and get to the Central highlands of Vietnam, you will know more about this culture.

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