Co Tu people follow an ancient patriarchal pattern with the men being responsible for the household, making the decisions and holding political power while the women are responsible for looking after the family and agricultural work. The Co Tu believe that souls wander the earth around them and since women are believed to be weaker, it is thought that these floating souls can permeate and talk to the women, granting them special spiritual powers. Their religion and culture is unique amongst traditional beliefs in Vietnam.
Hunting is central to Co Tu culture and the chief spirit the Co Tu worship is Comor Bar. She is the spirit of the forests and the guardian of birds, bees, fish and animals. Before a hunt commences a fortune telling ceremony is performed by villagers to determine the likelihood of success. A select portion of every successful hunt is set aside to appease this fickle spirit and to help ensure future hunting success. The spirits of the slain animals are said to take up residence in the skull hanging inside the Goul, reporting back to Comor Bar any transgressions to villagers make and thus endangering future hunts. All ceremonies and practices within the Goul pay respect to the inhabitants behind these unblinking eyes.
Every house has a special alter dedicated to Comor Bar upon which they place horns and heads of hunted animals. A yearly celebration in honour of Comor Bar is held in the late summer and is marked by the slaughtering of a sacrificial animal. During such festivals, and at other celebrations throughout the year, the Co Tu perform their traditional dances. The males dance the Tung Tung, which involves the beating of drums and gongs whilst hunters brandish ceremonial spears and swords and chant prayers to the spirits. The Ya Ya dance is performed by the women of the village and provides a graceful counterpoint to the energetic movement of the males. These dances are usually performed simultaneously around a central bonfire under the light of the stars and together they merge into a ceremony that traces its history back thousands of years.
Co Tu & Bho Hoong Facts
The staple food of the Co Tu is sticky rice. It grows on the sides of steep mountains and is prepared by steaming it inside bamboo stalks.”