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Hearing the sounds of Phuoc Kieu gongs in Tay Nguyen
Author: Tấn Vịnh; Translator: Bich Thuy .Posted date: 03/03/2015 .Views: 1708 lượt. [Print]
The gong is one of the most precious possession of Tay Nguyen ethnic. Ethnic minority groups bought, maintained the property and consider it as a sign of host's wealth. In each festival, the gong is always used in entertainment activities or in serving spirituality life, after Mnong ethnic performed a ritual offering to the Gong god. It can be said that Truong Son - Tay Nguyen village is the cradle of gong culture, Phuoc Kieu casting village and some other craft villages in plain are the origin places of gongs which are called gong Doanh by Mnong people.


Formerly, there were many gongs made in Lao (Lao gong) and gongs made in Camphuchia (Cur gong) in Truongson range and Tay Nguyen region but highlanders  still have prefered to use the gong made by Kinh people. In years good seasons  when highlanders have a wealth life, they usualy have the need of buying gongs to use in festivals and long-term asset of their families. If highlanders use many gongs, bronze casting craft in Phuoc Kieu village will have oppotunities to do well and the relationship between artisans and highlanders. In the past 200 years, according to the estimates, Phuoc Kieu casting village provided nearly 25,000 sets of gongs, drums, cymbals for the central highland. From many generations, artisans come up to Tay Nguyen in order to repair the sound of gongs follow the tune of the central highland.

In Central Highland provinces including Dak Nong, Dak Lac ... the cultural space of the Central Highlands gongs has preserved after gong culture had recognized as World Heritage Site. In recent years, the Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Dak Nong and Dak Lak have organized making general inventory of gongs in waves. We can see that there is a "drain gong" through the inventory. Therefore, It is necessary to buy gongs for hamlet community culture houses in order to maintain gong culture because they are common property for elderly people to impart to the young and all of them will use gongs in community culture activities. Since then, demand for providing gongs for hamlets is very great.  The question is where we get the gong source to provide enough gong? And the answer is: There was no better way out but to buy gongs of Kinh people (Kinh Doanh) as Tay Nguyen people's ancestors have done before. It is Phuoc Kieu bronze casting village in Quang Nam province, an ancient casting craft village. In 2006, the leaderships of Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Dak Lak came to Phuoc Kieu to implement a survey and a memo with artisan Duong Ngoc Tiển about buying Phuoc Kieu's gongs Dak Lak province alone need buy 150 sets of gong. The number of gongs in Dak Nong Provine is very few (about over 700 sets including 100 sets of new gongs provided for community culture house) in which there are 70 sets of gong bought in Phuoc Kieu. Culture and Information Office of Gia Nghia Town had a contract with artisan Duong Ngoc Tien to cast the set of gong for Mnong Ma ethnic from the  the Danish Culture Fund. With a desire to use gongs sustainably, Central Highland provinces do surveys at the bronze casting villages in Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa in order to find advantages of technical casting among the provinces.


Another factor to ethnic minorities of Tay Nguyen provinces choosing Doanh gongs for the cultural revival of gongs is that artisans in Phuoc Kieu not only produce gongs but also know how to adjust the gong sound and create sets of gongs in accordance with the sound of each ethnic. In casting gongs, adjusting the gong sound is the hardest part which not everyone among artisans can do. Phuoc Kieu artisans have came to every province of Tay Nguyen to establish working relationship formerly. To day, clever artisans in the village such as Duong Quoc Thuan, Duong Ngoc Tien ...  are invited to lecture handing down this craft to young artisans in Mnong hamlet, Dak Nong province. There were several dozen of artisans of Mnong joining the class "training" held by the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Dak Nong. Especially, the competition adjusting the sound of gongs was held by the Ministry of Culture and tourism in Gia Lai in 2008. In this event, artisan Duong Ngoc Tien was invited to teach "craft in tuning gong" artisans for Mnong and Ede.


To create sets of gongs in accordance with the sound of each ethnic, beside trade village's secrets, craftmen must come to Tay Nguyen provinces, penetrate deeply into each area, each ethnic, even each branch of ethnic, talk with artisans playing gongs and understand thier gong culture so that they know how to cast and adjust gongs  to suit Tay Nguyen artisans' requirements. Phuoc Kieu artisans has done that.


Product line of Doanh gong has returned to hamlets and villages of Dak Nong, Dak Lak. Kinh artisans in many famous villages including Phuoc Kieu not only have produced gongs as orders, but also have taught adjusting the sound. Besides, they also understand gong culture of highlanders. It is considered a great chance to develop and preserve Phuoc Kieu bronze casting village contributing to conserving gong culture space of ethnics in Truong Son and Tay Nguyen./.                                                                    


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