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Despite his rare old age, chieftain C’lau Nam, a much loved son of Por’ Ning Village, is still revered among his folk villagers as a living legend in the Truong Son Mountains. He was born in 1930 in Por’ Ning Village, Lang Commune from an impoverished Co Tu family. His love for the wilderness and respect for the traditional values of Co Tu people rekindled an unrivalled zeal in him to pass on his knowledge and traditional hunting skills to other lads in the village.
In 2008, C’lau Nam joined other elder folks and chieftains of Co Tu in Tay Giang to launch a team of sculptors who specialized in cultural sites of the district. Thanks to his efforts, guoil house “Cultural Hall of Co Tu ethnicities in Tay Giang” was rapidly finished. Por’ Ning Village, Tay Giang District, Quang Nam is now regarded a reserve of rich and diverse tangible and intangible cultural values of Co Tu ethnicity, in which the guoil model is a must-visit tourist attraction of visitors.
Currently despite his poorer health and old age, chieftain C’lau Nam is still compelled to pass on traditional sculpture skills to youngsters in the village. His dedication to educate the young from early sketches to carvings is the way he has rekindled their passion for traditional crafts. They enthusiastically talked to us: “It was Mr. Nam who taught me about sculpture. Mr. Nam passed on his skills to young guys in my village so that our traditional crafts do not fade into obscurity”.
Chieftain C’lau Nam said that every Co Tu used to master their longbows, but how to craft a standard one was a secret for many. For generations, longbow served as the right arm and token of masculine power of Co Tu men. These longbows accompanied men to the wild to hunt for beasts and birds and also served as weapons to protect fellow villagers. Although Co Tu people ceased to use longbows for their hunting, to learn to master longbows is a means to retain a distinct cultural essence of the Co Tu people. Nowadays, the model Co Tu guoil halls and clan stilt houses of Por’ Ning Village have been studied and extended, not only in Tay Giang District but other localities all over Quang Nam Province.
It seems that chieftain C’lau Nam is a restless and hard-boiled man. In his lifetime of contributions and enthusiastic training, he has always been tormented with thoughts of the possible obscurity of ethnic cultures. In a rainy day in the highlands, we sat listening to the concerns of a man at the end of his life journey. Mr. Nam sipped some pipe liquor and calmly said: “I have this thought. My father died and I inherited my father’s own skills. If I don’t pass them on to my offspring, who will take charge of it after my demise? It’s just my burning aspiration. Since now, I just want my offspring to firstly retain the community solidarity, and secondly retain their culture and good mannerism. Last but not least, they should diligently work for their livelihoods. If my offspring fail to retain it, our invaluable ethnic cultural traditions will fade away”.
The love for the wild, villages and inflamed passion of the Co Tu people like chieftain C’lau Nam, fueled the communities understanding of it. At 85, he remains robust and full of life and unconditionally contributes to his people with his efforts to preserve the culture of ethnic minorities in the west of Quang Nam.