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Gie Trieng Ethnic Group in Viet Nam

The Gie Trieng are an example of an animist people who are in transition from horticulture to agriculture, from matrilineality to full patriarchy, and from animism. In this case they seem to be going the way of ancestor reverence instead of animal deities. That may say more about the influence of their neighboring peoples than about local conditions.

It may also be that they have already transitioned to agriculture and there are animal deities in their past. The importance of the water buffalo, for example, could be a clue. Still, the water buffalo‘s importance is agricultural. So it is unlikely to have been an animal deity.

Labels: Ethnic Groups, Gie Trieng ethnic group, Mon-Khmer Group

Proper name: Each group has its own name, such as: Gie, Trieng, Ve, Bnoong

Other names: Ca Tang, Giang Ray.

Local groups: Gie (Gie), Trieng (T’rieng), Ve, Bnoong (Mnoong). The Gie are the most populous group.

Population: 26,924 people (1999 census).

Language: The Gie-Trieng speak a language belonging to the Mon-Khmer group of languages (Austroasiatic language family), and their language is relatively close to the Sedang and Bana language. There are certain differences between the dialects of each group. Writing system was formed sometime before 1975, using the Latin alphabet.

History: The Gie-Trieng has long been inhabitants of the mountains called Ngoc Ling.

Production activities: The Gie-Trieng cultivates rice on terraced fields, sin the past, sticky rice was the popular agricultural crop. Today, other varieties of rice are more popular. The Gie-Trieng’s cultivation practices are like those of other ethnic groups in the mountainous areas. The main tools are the axe, machete, a pointed digging stick to make holes in the ground for planting seeds, and a short-handled weeding hoe.

All of the agricultural crops are grown on terraced fields. In addition to rice, the Gie-Trieng also cultivate corn, cassava, sorghum, Italian millet, sweet potato, red colossi, pumpkin, melons, tobacco, cotton, sugar corn, banana, etc. They also raise cattle and other animals, including chickens, pigs, dogs, and water buffaloes.

Buffaloes are only killed as sacrificial offerings in religious rituals. Hunting, gathering and fashion provide foods that supplement the diet. The Gie-Trieng are very good at needle-work and embroidery. Weaving is also developed in many places. The Dac Pet area has a tradition of gold mining and pottery that is made by hand without using the wheel. In the past, bartering of goods was the basic form of trade. Nowadays, however, money is used.

Diet: The Gie-Trieng gene┬Črally eat three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

They enjoy grilled fish and meat. Soup is also a popular dish at meals. Bowls and chopsticks are commonly used now, although in the past the Gie-Trieng simply used their hands. The traditional drinks are fresh water, wine (consumed by using straws or pipes) made from rice, corn, cassava, Italian millet, and wine made from a tree, which belongs to the coconut family. Both male and female use pipes to smoke tobacco.

Housing: There are groups of Gie and Trieng living in Dac Giay district of Kon Turn province, in Phuoc Son and Tra Mi districts of Quang Nam province, and, especially for the Trieng and the Ve in Giang district. They generally live in large long-houses built on I stilts. These long-houses have I many “kitchens” and is a type of house that is both traditional and popular. Especially in the areas where the Gie and Bnoong live, it is typical that the whole village stays in only a couple of long-houses.

Nowadays in some areas, single-story houses are built on the ground, not on stilts. In many places, with the exception of the Bnoong group, there is usually a big and beautiful community house in each village. In Giang and Dac Giay, the custom of building houses in a circular formation, leaving a big open space in the centre, is a long-held traditional practice.

Clothing: Traditionally, men wore only loin cloth, wrapping themselves in a blanket during cold weather. Women wear shirts, and wrapped skirts; some of them wear a long one-piece skirt that covers from chest down to feet. The women like to wear lots of jewelry: silver, brass, and beat necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Women of wealthy families have earrings made of elephant ivory. However, choosing more modern Vietnamese style clothing is becoming more common nowadays, even in the remote villages.

Transportation: The Gie- Trieng uses baskets, of many kinds and sizes, including thick and thin ones, those that are blackened and with decorations. Some baskets are for daily use, to store things at home, and some are used only by men, etc.

Social organization: The villagers belong to different kinship lines, and each one has its own legend about its origin, name, and taboos. In the past, there were different family names for men and women. The social structures in Gie- Trieng villages are close and important. The village elder is highly respected, due largely to his knowledge and experience, and also because he is often regarded as the founder of the village. The society has remnants of a matriarchal system, but is transforming into a patriarchal society.

Marriage: Young people find their own partners and parents usually accept the selection if there is no violation to their ‘ customs or taboos. A marriage has to go through many steps. There is always a bonding ceremony for the groom and bride. In some places, they sit together and eat rice and. chicken liver and share one bowl of wine; in some other places, the young couple shares food while wrapped in a blanket.

The bride has to prepare a hundred bundles of good firewood to bring to the groom’s family. The groom’s family bestows to the girl’s knitting and embroidery tools and receives textiles in return. In the past, the couple took turns staying at each of their family’s homes during the first year of marriage.

Birth: The husband has to build a hut in the forest for the wife to give birth. The woman has to care for herself when giving birth, and can only bring the infant home after ten days. The infant will be considered as a member of the family only after there is a ritual which invites the infant to join the family circle.

Funerals: Funeral customs are not alike among all of the Gie-Trieng groups. However, one common trait is that the coffins are simply made; sometimes there is caved water buffalo head in the place where the dead person’s head would be placed. The dead is buried (some documents say they used to be cremated). The grave is very simple as well, with a fence constructed around it. Broken jars are to be buried together with the dead. In the past, there was a custom to bury all those who belonged to one family and who died close to each other in the same tomb. During the first ten days when a villager dies, before his/her family holds a religious ceremony to “remind” the dead spirit to stay in the cemetery, villagers are generally reluctant to go anywhere far from their village. A farewell ceremony to the dead is organized at the beginning of the year, next to the grave.

Beliefs: The Gie-Trieng practice animism: believing that there are many deities and there is a spirit in every single object, as well as in each human being. The Gie-Trieng worship a variety of deities – of water, forest, fire, sky, sun, earth, village, rice, stone, banyan tree, etc. Each village has a sacred object that is considered as a guardian, and is hidden at the edge of a forest, in a place unknown to outsiders. Each family also has its own sacred object which is used to pray for successful crops. Spirits of the dead are also a strong influence in their life. There are many customs and beliefs related to the supernatural world.

Festivals: Sacrifices are offered for each ritual, and the blood of the animal is most important offering. Large ceremonies usually call for the offering of water buffaloes for big ceremony; some say that in the past, the blood of human beings was used to worship the God of rice. In the yearly production cycle, there are ceremonies when choosing the site for a field, when cultivating it, when planting seeds, when there is flood or drought, when harvesting, when storing the rice, when there are more than 100 baskets of rice, and finally at the 1st time eating the rice.

During the cycle of life, there are also ceremonies held when a woman is pregnant, during and after giving birth, when the child is named, when one is ill, when pulling a tooth, when there is a wedding, and when one dies. The Gie-Trieng New Year is earlier than Vietnamese Lunar New Year; festivals for it are organized separately in each village.

Calendar: The Gie-Trieng follows the lunar calendar. Therefore, the name of each day is repeated twice, one on the 1st half of the month, and the other one on the 2nd half. There are 30 days in a month. A focused activity is marked for each month.

Artistic activities: The most varied, precious, and important instrument is the gong set. There are two kinds of gongs, called cong and chieng. Depending on different places, the Gie-Trieng use 3 cong, with 7, 9, 6, or 4 chieng, etc. Sometimes, the gongs are played together with flute and bamboo pipes, because bamboo pipe is also a kind of instrument that could be blown or tapped. All of their flutes and pan-flutes are very simple, and popular in their musical life. Just like other ethnic groups, the Gie-Trieng has traditional folksongs and fairy tales.

Original Author: Vietnam Heritage Travel Full Bio

This article written by Lanh Nguyen from Travel Agency in Vietnam

Posted in Animism, Asia.

Tagged with , , , , , , , .


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