Gu Bla, one of the main sculptural works used in the Cor ethnic group’s buffalo sacrifice festival in Tra Bong district in the central province of Quang Ngai, is slowly being forgotten as the festival’s popularity decreases. 

 

 

Gu Bla consists of Gu Pi and Gu Po, which represent the feminine and the masculine, manifesting the existence of races in the Cor people’s beliefs. They are connected to each other by a square trunk, making them inseparable.  On the left of Gu Bla is the image of a wingspan cheo peo bird, which is seen as an “idol” since he, like the Cor people, is indomitable against any dangerous animal in the forest despite his small appearance. 

Gu Bla vividly captures the changes in the universe with various patterns symbolizing objects like birds, plants, mountains, rivers, the sun and the moon.  The sculpture, which was designed to unite the community, stands solemnly in the centre of the house of the family that hosts the buffalo sacrifice festival.  Apart from sending prayers for good luck, Gu Bla also demonstrates sentiments between family members, or between the hosts and their guests. 

 

Nguyen Thanh Tung, head of the Tra Bong Office for Culture and Information, said a model of Gu Bla was on display at the district’s traditional stilt house, which also showcases other valuable Cor objects. 

Cao Chu, Deputy Director of the Quang Ngai provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said his department was considering suggesting the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognise Gu Bla as national intangible cultural heritage.  The department has also introduced Gu Bla in museums, books and newspapers, and encouraged local people to preserve the traditional sculpture.

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