The keeper of 30,000 cultural artifacts of the Central Highlands

LAM DONG – From a few donated memorabilia, passion prompted Mr. Dang Minh Tam to collect and create a miniature “museum” of the Central Highlands with about 30,000 artifacts.

Mr. Tam (65 years old, a former police officer of Lam Dong province), is the owner of the exhibition displaying the miniature Central Highlands by Xuan Huong Lake during the festival at the end of last year.

Originally a police officer who often went to villages to work and work with people, Mr. Tam gradually fell in love with the culture of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands. “The first time I entered the simple wooden house, the simple thatched house in the village in the middle of the mountains, my relatives felt very attached,” he said.

During the time of eating, living and working with people of different ethnic groups, Mr. Tam was loved by the people who gave him daily life items, costumes, and ethnic musical instruments. Any item he always remembers the giver, each related story and considers them sacred memorabilia connecting himself with the villages. It was an opportunity that prompted him to take pains to collect cultural artifacts of the Central Highlands.

The miniature Central Highlands cultural space is located on Xuan Huong Lake at the end of 2022. Photo: Khanh Huong
The miniature Central Highlands cultural space is located by Xuan Huong Lake at the end of 2022. Photo: Khanh Huong

For decades, this former police officer has been walking through the forest, wading through streams to find villages in the Central Highlands to collect and buy artifacts associated with local customs, daily life, and beliefs. this. He learns, watches, works together and remembers from how relatives make rice mills, knitting baskets, baskets, to cutting trees, building houses, hunting, farming…

“Then from when did I not know, I became a person to study the culture of the Central Highlands without going to any school,” Mr. Tam shared.

In his collection, Mr. Tam is especially impressed with the Goong (Kò ní) guitar of the Gia Rai people, which is solemnly hung on the wall of the house. This is a guitar crafted by artist Ro Cham Tih (Gia Lai) and gave him instructions on how to use it. Along with that are special doe (jars) of ethnic people that he has collected for nearly 40 years.

Mr. Tam with his Central Highlands cultural collection.  Photo: Khanh Huong
Mr. Tam with the Central Highlands cultural collection. Photo: Khanh Huong

According to him, doe is a special cultural feature in the life of the Central Highlands people. In the villages, stepping on the stilt houses, the dogs lined up in order from large to small will be the first to be seen. It is like a precious asset that shows the wealth of the owner.

“In the old days, these dogs were used to worship when someone killed an elephant or killed a person. Or the mother dog carrying her child was worth the equivalent of 11 buffaloes …”, the owner of a collection of more than 3 thousands of cultural artifacts in the Central Highlands.

Mr. Tam’s artifacts are divided into different groups including: hunting on land and in water, forging; festivals, musical instruments, jewelry, textiles, production tools… Besides, there are also a set of household items of the indigenous ethnic groups in the Central Highlands such as baskets, clay pots, etc. reflecting the daily life, religion and beliefs of ethnic groups in each locality such as Xe Dang, Ba Na (Kon Tum), Gia Rai (Gia Lai), Ede, and M’ Mong (Dak Lak, Dak Nong). ), Co ho, Ma, Churu (Lam Dong)…

The rope used to hunt elephants of the ancient Central Highlands.  Photo: Khanh Huong
The rope used to hunt elephants of the ancient Central Highlands. Photo : Khanh Huong

According to the owner of the miniature Central Highlands “museum”, if you do not know the customs and habits of each ethnic group, you will not know the direction of collection. Therefore, with any artifact, he worked hard to find out the origin. Thanks to that, in the massive collection with more than 30,000 objects being kept, Mr. Tam remembers every detail such as: where they were brought from, how they were used, and how they were used.

Currently, the collection at Mr. Tam’s family is a free place to visit for students of universities, colleges, and researchers who want to learn about the cultural life, customs and habits of the indigenous peoples in Vietnam. Highlands.

Mr. Le Anh Kiet, Head of the Department of Culture and Information of Da Lat City, said that Mr. Tam’s research and preservation of tens of thousands of cultural artifacts in the Central Highlands are valuable and useful to the community. “Da Lat city has cooperated with this collector twice to bring the cultural artifacts of the Central Highlands on display to the public,” said Mr. Kiet.

 ( According to vnexpress )