The Bahnar is an ethnic group with a population of approximately 137,000, who live primarily in Kontum and Gia Lai provinces of Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands of Vietnam). Their language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language family. Like many other long-term inhabitants of Tay Nguyen, the Bahnar have created a unique culture, which is preserved in their epics known as “h’mon”. The epics of the ethnic groups in Tay Nguyen were previously preserved in oral tradition by singing and retelling through generations, but since 1927, when the Ede’s epic of Dam San was first published in Paris by French folklorist L. Sabachier, they have also been recorded, compiled and studied. The Bahnar epics, such as Dam Noi and Xing Chi On, were introduced after 1975. These epics still remain in their performable form (h’ri) even in the present day.
The Bahnar epics are legends about the tribe’s heroes and great events, which are long enough to sing and tell through several nights.
Recognizing the bahnar epics will help promote those charming stories and facilitate relevant activities of research, collection and preservation.
Nowadays, there are more than 20 storytellers who know by heart 70 Bahnar epic poems across the province. Some of the epics have been recorded and published.
The Central Highlands region, which comprises the five provinces of Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Lam Dong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum, is home to stunning mythical landscapes and a significant population of diverse ethnic minorities and cultures.
Bahnar Epics (Bahnar language: h'amon) such as Dam Noi represent centuries-old aspirations of Banar people.