A display of wooden funerary sculptures made by local people from the Central Highlands was opened during the on-going Vietnam Cultural Heritage Week.
The sculptures will be put on show at the Culture Tourism Village of Vietnamese Ethnic Groups in Ba Vi District, Hanoi from November 18 to 24. The sculptures were mostly found at the tombs of ethnic groups, including Ba Na, E De, Mnong and Xo Dang.
To the people of the Central Highlands, death means a return to the forest, where life began. As parting gifts, people will carve sculptures depicting daily activities to place around tombs. The belief that the dead still need to eat and breathe as the living, a breathing hole is often made in their coffins. Funerary sculptures are only carved after one to three, after the dead have truly passed.
According to the ethnic groups, the wood also has a soul. What they need to do is remove the excess parts and keep the souls. The people in Central Highlands do not consider this an art because the sculptures depict various activities in life, from holding a bottle to looking sideways. Bedroom activities are also favoured subject, to depict fertility.
The sculptures are made roughly with axes, only small details, such as facial features are created with chisels. Some people can make sculptures after watching the process just a few times, while others have to stop working.
Photos of some sculptures:
Sculptures depict various activities in life
A sculpture similar to the "Thinking Man"