|A Rong House of the Xo Dang
Rong houses are cultural symbols of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. It is the religious and cultural center of the village. The Rong house of the Xo Dang is a big stilt house with a high roof which looks like an axe.
A Phao, Chairman of Dak Ang commune, Ngoc Hoi district, said. “The Rong house is a communal house where villagers gather for festivals and rituals. A traditional Rong house has rattan walls and a grass roof. Today they may use sheets of corrugated iron instead.”
The village patriarch decides where to build the Rong house, usually on a high point of land so it can be seen from afar. The patriarch informs the villagers of a Rong house construction one year in advance, and assigns who will do each task. Prior to the construction, they perform a ritual to ask the Jade Emperor and genies for permission.
A Rong house of the Xo Dang is supported by 8 to 10 wood pillars, beams, and a platform. A Phang of Dak Ang commune said the Rong house is tall to converse with nature. Xo Dang people believe that the Rong house is a bridge between man and the gods of heaven. A Phang said “We use rattan ropes to lash the wood pillars together. The patriarch and senior villagers instruct the others how to build the Rong house. The men build the frame and the women weave leaves and grasses for the roof. In the past it took about a month to build a Rong house.”
The floor is made from a kind of rattan called Lồ ô. The stair from the ground to the elevated floor is a big log of wood. The main door looks over a large yard. A Phang again: “If the hamlet has many villagers, they build a big Rong house. It’s a scared place for worship. Today they construct an altar. In the past they placed a basket near the main pillar and put some food in it every day for their ancestors.”
Inside the Rong house, villagers display wood statues and relievos with images of flowers, birds, and rice. Three colors are used in the Rong house: black to chase away evil spirits, white to represent fidelity, and red to symbolize victory. There is a special space for devotional items, such as a sacred knife, rock, or buffalo horn.
For the Xo Dang the Rong house is a place for meeting and preserving traditional culture.