Three generations have kept the “sacred soul” of the nation

Coming to A Thut’s house, he saw stacks of books on the Central Highlands Epic filled in the living room, with certificates of merit and certificates from the West and ours hanging on the walls.

Take the gongs… West


Elder A Bek (right) with his son A Thut (3rd from right) and gong dance.

A Thut said, his father – old A Bek (born in 1930) is one of the very few folk artists in Kon Tum. As a child, he often followed his father to villages to recite epics. The epics his father told were ingrained in A Thut’s flesh and blood.

As a person with a good education (he passed Baccalaureate II in 1972), A Thut is very conscious of preserving and spreading the Central Highlands epic. In 1998, the Party and State had a policy of collecting Central Highlands epics. He participated in the project and translated all of his father’s epics.

Talking about UNESCO’s recognition of the “Central Highlands Gong Cultural Space” as a world heritage, A Thut’s face beamed: “Our village has brought the sacred soul of the village to the West.” A Thut tells about a 100-year-old gong set, a family heirloom: During the years when the French colonialists invaded the Central Highlands to scoop up wealth, A Thut’s grandfather, before moving from the village to avoid France, dug a tunnel to bury the gong set.

France failed in Indochina, A Thut’s family returned to the village to pick up a set of gongs. When the American imperialists invaded our country, his family took the gongs to the mountains and hid them in caves. When the South was completely liberated, the precious gong set was brought back to play on the victory celebration day of April 30, 1975.

In 1983, A Thut’s grandmother passed away. Family members wanted to sell the gong set. A Thut was very angry. He decided to sell 3 cows (the family’s only major asset at that time) to keep the precious gong set.

Teaching to the younger generation

As his family gradually became better off, A Thut went to Laos to buy two sets of precious gongs. He kept the family heirloom gong set carefully, only to use it when there was an important village festival. He bought two sets of gongs from Laos to teach to young people. A Thut’s gong playing class regularly has 20 children.

Up to now, all young men in Dak Wok village know how to play gongs. A Thao – A Thut’s son (captain of the gong team during festivals) and his father teach gongs to young people. A Thao promised: “I will continue the cause of preserving and transmitting the soul of the nation through gongs and epics.” On the occasion of Dak Wok village bringing gongs to “play” in Europe, A Thut’s family had 3 generations accompanying them, A Bek, A Thut and grandson A Thao.

In 2001, A Thut was awarded Folk Artist by the State. This year, he has passed the “thirty year” age threshold, but A Thut is still trusted by the people of Ho Moong commune to be elected Vice Chairman of the commune (he has held this position for nearly 10 years).

He said: “The villagers have full stomachs now. But my stomach is not happy because in the commune there are still some people who listen to bad people. However, when I explained, the villagers realized what was right and what was wrong.”

Saying goodbye to Dak Wok village, the lyrics of the song “Let’s go pick wild vegetables” are still heard in our hearts. This song A Thut and the gong team’s orchestra performed at the 2007 Smithsonian Festival in the US…

In 2007, 16 children of the village went to Washington, D.C. (USA) to perform gongs, sing epic songs, carve dugout canoes and weave baskets… at the Smithsonian Festival, with the theme “Mekong – The river connecting the culture”. After that, the village’s gong troupe performed in 140 other countries.

A So

According to Dan Viet

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