The H’re are united, which can be seen in the way they help each other in production and festive activities. The connectivity among H’re families and between an individual and the hamlet is based on kinship or neighborhood.
H’re people live in villages known as “plây". Their villages are located on hillsides above the valley. Their houses are next to their fields and water source.
H’re people move only when an epidemic disease breaks out. H’re build their stilt houses on high, well-ventilated plots of land. H’re villagers live in harmony with each other.
They use the same well, the same ditch. There are no fences between houses to demarcate private property.
In traditional H’re’s society, a “plây" is an autonomous community with institutions set up for daily activities. A H’re village has 40 to 50 households.
Each village is led by a “Krăh plây”, an older, experienced, respected person from a prosperous family.
Each H’re village has a shaman or “pơ dâu” who, together with the “Krăh plây”, conducts the village’s worship rituals.
H’re people have many spiritual rituals associated with community activities which are orally passed down from generation to generation.
Pham Minh Dat, a researcher of ethnic minority culture in the Central Highlands, said “H’re people believe all things have a soul. Each year they organize many rituals for deaths, ancestors, a new house, or to worship the rice genie and pray for good health and favorable conditions for farming and trading. So the “Krăh plây” and “pơ dâu” play an extremely important role in maintaining the group’s cultural traditions.”
The village head is also responsible for community affairs such as building a water trough, road, or village fence, giving production advice, judging rule violations, and coordinating any moving of the village.
On important matters, the village head who is elected, not hereditary, consults with members of village patriarch board.
Each family clan has a patriarch. “Krăh plây” Dinh Ngoc Su of Son Ha district in Quang Ngai province is one of the most distinguished H’re patriarchs. He has been given the title “folk artisan”.
Ethnic culture researcher Pham Van Chi told us that patriarchs like Dinh Ngoc Su are considered protectors of the H’re soul, links between the past and the present.
Chi added, “Artisan and patriarch Dinh Ngoc Su excels in H’re folk singing, and makes and plays different kinds of H’re musical instruments. He is now teaching the younger generation how to play and make these traditional musical instruments.”