Ta Thi Tam
The Mang, a Mon Kh’mer language group inhabiting the northwestern region, lives in traditional stilt houses with three or more generations.
A Mang home, which often faces downstream a spring or river, is not very large with double entrance doors at the gable ends. The main entrance door for men faces the stream’s upper part while the sub one for women looks to lower part. Leading to these doors are two stairways with three or five stairs.
A Mang home has no yard, garden or gate as the space around the house is used for breeding facilities.
A house, which has a passage lengthwise, is divided into small rooms. The first room accommodating the main entrance door is for receiving guests. Next to it is the parents’ room, followed by rooms of sons and daughters.
Close to the sub entrance door is placed a rice mortar - the Mang’s important farming tool which is also believed to protect the family as the group neither worships ancestors nor believes in other spirits. The rice mortar is made from a trunk with a diameter of between 35 and 60 cm. The pestle is about 150 cm long.
The house also has a kitchen and a small room for storing vegetables. The Mang has the taboo on bringing vegetables and raw meat through the main entrance door.
The roof of a Mang house must be built along the flowing direction of the stream or river. Building the roof in the direction across the river is believed to block the water flow, a symbol of drought. The roof, made of thatch, is divided into four smaller parts, two of which cover the house while the others expanding to the gables. The walls are bamboo wattles firmly tied to the house frame. A Mang traditional home has no window so it is very dark inside.
The floor is made of bamboo or wood lath knitted together. The house frame is made from wood props with a diameter of 15-20 cm and beams which are tightly tied together with lianas. The entrance doors are made of bamboo or wood.
The house also has a roofed passage in front as the space connecting the inner and outer parts of the house.
A Mang family often builds its house in September or October with the help of relatives and villagers as the Mang community has a high sense of mutual assistance. The group uses forest materials such as bamboo, wood and rock to build houses.
Before living in its new home, a Mang family will celebrate it, inviting villagers to a house warming ceremony by firing three shots of a flintlock.
In the ceremony, the home owner and his family members enter the house first, followed by their guests. Bringing in three bamboo containers of rice, firewood and water, the home owner sweeps the house with a broom, a symbolic act to ward off evil spirits. While sweeping, he throws the bamboo containers out of the house, saying “get out, evil spirits, you must fetch water, firewood and rice yourself rather than taking them from me.”
The family then kills a chicken to “read” its legs, foreseeing if it is good for the family to live in the new home. It also kills a pig and cooks sticky rice to make a party.
If the family suffers misfortunes such as death of a family member or crop failures, it will move to another site to build a new home.-