Planting a tree for luck

No 3, Vol.6, May - June 2015

A wooden board at guol reenarting x’nur tree and a view of stabbing buffalo

Every year, the Co Tu ‘plant’ a x'nur tree (cây nêu) and tie a buffalo to it for sacrifice to the gods, good ghosts and ancestors to beg for a year of good weather, good crops, peace and harmony in the village.
Co Tu elders, knowledgeable of the traditional customs, adorn the x'nur tree with great care. The expression of faith displayed on the tree varies from one place to another. In general, the x'nur trees of the Co Tu of Quang Nam’s mountains are ornamented with agate, fence and wave patterns in three major colours including black (the earth), red (the sun) and white (life-giving).

A pillar at guol decorated as x’nur tree

The Co Tu plant the x'nur tree in front of the guol (traditional communal house). The x'nur tree is about four metres tall, consisting of three parts which are adorned differently. The middle part is the most important, representing a rice-crushing mortar and two female arms raised high to receive divine gifts.
At its top, the x'nur tree has a funnel made of bamboo. Among additional decorations, it has also two tall bamboos placed symmetrically on both sides with the tops and leaves bent down near the funnel, and fringes made of thinly split palm leaves or bamboo. All of that forms a miniature cosmos.n

Text and photos by Nguyen Van Son
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