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Epic Telling-singing

Teller-Singer is a male villager who has a good memory and singing voice, and can present all the epic from its beginning to the end.

Reasons for selection

H'mon means Epic Telling-singing. It is a unique performing art of the Bahnar ethnic group living in Highland Vietnam. Similar forms can be found in the culture of some other Highlanders-Ethnic groups such as the Khan of Rhade, H'ri of Jo Rai, OtN'rong of M'Nong ethnic groups.

Area where performed

Popular in hamlets of the Bahnar, Rhade, Jo Rai, M'Nong living in Highland-Central Vietnam.

Essential elements of the performing art


Detailed explanation

H'mon is a form of Epic Telling-Singing popularized in culture of ethnic groups living in Highland-Central Vietnam and in Truong Son mountainous area.

The characteristics
Each H'mon (or Khan, H'ri, Ot N'rong )consists of a poetic story expressed by at least 1,000 and at most 10,000 poetic lines. The epic often told about the heroic great tasks of the mythic heroes lived in ancient times. They are always eminent people with supernatural powers and miracle capacities. Thanks to their own mythic forces, they saved and liberated their tribes from the domination and exploitation of foreign invaders.

The H'mon is often realized on a dark winter night from evening to sunrise. The teller-singer lies in the eastern room of the house sinking into the blackness. The villagers-listeners sit in small groups surrounding a small fire outside the house on the courtyard.

From the dark, the voice of the teller-singer resounds and flies into the black space surrounding the house and the people. This context increases the mystical features of the performance. The teller-singer uses some musical melodies mixed with the recitative intonation to describe the characteristics of each personage from epic's content. He needs at least three nights to tell the shortest epic; and for the longest epic, he must spend 20 nights. He also has to tell it continuously, night by night.

Publication and textual documentation

1982 H'mon Noi.
Play Ku: Department of Culture of the Gia Lai Kon Tum province.

Audio documentation

In the archive of Prof. Dr. To Ngoc Thanh

Visual documentation

not yet available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Association of Vietnamese Folklorists

Data provider

Dr. To Ngoc Thanh
Association of Vietnamese Folklorists
Address: E1, Bach Khoa, Hanoi, Viet Nam