|Churu ethnic group|
Lables: Austro-Polynenisian Group, Churu ethnic group, Ethnic Groups
Other names: Cho Ru, Kru, and Thuong.
Population: 10,746 people (1999 census).
Language: The Churu language belongs to the Malayo- Polynesian group (of the Austronesia language family) and is close to Cham language. A part of Cham people live close to Co Ho people and speak Co Ho (which belongs to the Mon-Khmer group).
History: The Churu people seemed to be a component of the Cham community in the past. They might have separated from the larger Cham society when they went to live high in the mountains.
Production activities: The Churu lead a sedentary lifestyle, living mainly on their traditional agriculture. They cultivate in two kinds of fields: muddy and dry. Irrigation is given careful consideration, including the building of ditches, dikes, embankments, etc. People have gardens both in the mountains and at home. Livestock and poultry raising is popular. Hunting, gathering and fishing are also part of daily life. Household handicrafts are fairly well-developed, including textile weaving, plaiting and making fairly coarse pottery.
Diet: Ordinary rice is the most important food, often cooked in earthen pots. Supplementary foods include corn, manioc and sweet potato. Others foods are forest bamboo shoots, vegetables, fish and meat obtained from gathering and hunting. Popular drinks include can (pipe) and distilled wines. Both men and women like smoking locally-grown tobacco with pipes.
Clothing: Because textile weaving is not very well-developed, the Churu exchange goods for such attire as dresses, blouses, loin cloths, blankets, child carriers, etc. with the neighboring groups of Cham, Coho, Raglai and Ma.
Lifestyle: At present, the majority of Churu are concentrated in the two communes of Don and Loan of Don Duong district, while others live in the adjacent districts of Due Trong and Di Linh in Lam Dong province. There are also thousands of Churu people in the districts of An Son and Due Linh of Ninh Thuan province. The Churu build their bamboo houses on stilts with a thatched roof. They live in Plei (villages), and families of the same lineage or close relationships often have their houses built close to each other.
Transportation: The bamboo-woven gui (back-basket) is the chief means for transporting goods and produce, and is used by most people.
Social organization: A matriarchal social structure dominates Churu society, where the woman plays the more prominent role in the family, and is the inheritor of the family; children carry the name of the mother's line. In autonomous village relationships, men shoulder a number of responsibilities to the ancestors in order to maintain society. But in reality, however, each man acts according to the wishes of his wife, who is owner and host-as is the custom-of the house in which they live. Although Churu society has experienced an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, this does not appear to be a source of conflicts.
Marriage: The young woman takes her husband on her own initiative. Her engagement and wedding are carried out by presenting the boy with a finger ring and a string of beads. After the wedding, the bride has to stay at her husband's house until the son-in-law reception ceremony is held. Then the couple stays with the wife's family.
Funerals: The Churu bury the deceased in the village's common graveyard. In the past, large-scale funerals were often held, with a buffalo or cow being sacrificed.
The new house: The building of a new house holds great importance for the host family, and is warmly supported by the community. Both relatives and others of the village all lend a helping hand, as the host family prepares for the celebration that marks the completion of the work as well as the house-warming party. Another big party is held afterwards to thank the gods for their blessings and for everybody to. share the happiness with the host family.
Festivals: Each year, according to the Churn's schedule for wet rice cultivation of submerged fields, various rites are observed. These include worshiping the spirit of the dike, the paddy plant spirit when seeds are sown, the new rice crop, and post-harvest celebrations. The most important events are the ritual of Bonung God in the second month of the lunar year, in which goats are often sacrificed, and the veneration of Yang Wer, the aging tree adjacent to the village, which is regarded as the living place of the spirits. People make miniatures animals out of wood or banana bulbs and place them under the trees.
Calendar: The Churu rely on the traditional lunar calendar to determine their agricultural schedule.
Education: In the past, the Churu did not have their own writing system. All communication was verbal.
Artistic activities: Proverbs and folk songs are rich, reflecting the significant role of the woman in the Churu's matriarchal society. Drums, gongs and wind instruments are popular. Other unique musical instruments of the Churu are r'tong, kwao and terlia. In festivals, the ancient Churu music often intertwines with the famous tamga dance beats.
Games: Churu children like games such as flying butterfly-shaped and wind-whistled kites, tug of war, stick walking, catch and run, etc.