Long house of Ede people in Vietnam

The traditional long house of the Ede people is a unique complex of architectural space, showing features of daily life, beliefs and spirituality of this group. The long house is made up of two main components; the first one is the gah space for entertaining guests, organizing annual rituals, and the shared space for all family members; the second one includes ok space for accommodation. Stepping into a long house, visitors can feel all living activities of the Ede people, which instils both, a feeling of sacredness as well as an atmosphere of familiarity.

The principle construction of a long house of the Ede people consists of two straight vertical walls, which are wide in the upper part and narrow in the lower part, and the two ends of the roof structure that protrude like prows on either end. The frame has two rows of vertical columns, each row including seven pairs of columns, structured with vertical beams rather than rafters. The two main pillars at the porch are carved with images of elephant’s ivory, young moons, turtles, lizards and other motifs in relation to the matriarchal culture. The house is entirely made of materials available in their natural surroundings, in which the frames of columns and vertical beams are made of wood, the roof bones and floors are made of bamboo, the partition walls are made of chopped and compressed bamboo trees, and the entire roof is made of thatch.

Front of long house

The Ede people’s long houses have roof bones arranged towards the North – South direction, and doors and stairs comprising of two gable ends to avoid Northeast wind in the dry season and Southwest wind in the rainy season. The front door is for men and guests while the back door is for women both in the family and extended family. Furthermore, the two long roofs are placed crossing the path of the sun to avoid heat build-up inside the house during the hottest hours of the day.

Long house of the Ede people at Ko Tam by Truong Bi

The stairs usually have a width between eighty centimeters and one meter, a height of almost two meters, and seven steps due to the Ede people’s belief that this number represents birth, luck, and development. Stairs are made of precious wood such as kosso, rosewood, and doussie. At the top of the stairs, adjacent to the porch are carvings with images of a crescent moon and full breasts that symbolize the beauty, power, and role of women in the matriarchal family of the Ede people.

The Ede people’s long house has both front and back floor yards. The front one is called gah yard (welcoming yard). The longer the house is, the wider the welcoming yard is. In front of the floor yard, on both sides of the staircase, two main floor pillars are sculptured with images of two rice pots that stand for prosperity and peace. Behind the long house, the rice barn with a floor at 30 centimetres higher than that of the long house is located.

Long house of the Ede people in Buon Don Village by Truong Bi

In gah space, when a ritual worship is taken, wine jars are placed in line right at the centre; boat-shaped k’pan chairs are situated along the right wall of the house so that gong performers can sit with their back to the West and face to the East; a char gong with the diameter of one meter is hung next to the fire. Meanwhile, on the side adjacent to ok space, a h’gor drum is placed at the end of k’pan chairs. A set of 10 k’nah gongs are also exhibited along with a h’gor drum, usually on or under k’pan chairs. There are also djung po sang (chairs reserved for the host); djung tue (chairs for guests); fire stove; jars of all types such as tuc, tang and po; loom; white mats and flower-patterned mats of all kinds for guests and villagers joining ceremonies, or listening to Khan epics, tales, folk songs (such as ay ray, kut, m’muin), or taking part in other community activities.

Communication and stem wine by Vu Long

Ok space are chambers for small households in a matriarchal family. Sequentially, the first chamber adjacent to gah space is spent for the host and the spouse; the second for the youngest daughter and her husband who will be the prosperous heirs; the next ones for the other daughters and their husbands. On average, each traditional long house will accommodate about five to seven couples, living together with their grandparents and parents. In addition to the shared stove in gah space, each small chamber has its own stove, making couples living activities more convenient.

The article used information from the magazine of Dak Lak – Vitality of the vast jungles