Wood carving in the Central Highlands


Wooden folk statues plays a special role in the cultural and spiritual life of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands (Ba Na, J’rai, Ede…) and have become a simple art form unique to the people here. With a rudimentary and primitive way of carving, artisans only use axes, knives, chisels, saws… to breath life into wooden statues with all shades of emotions: joy, sadness, anxiety. Each piece of wooden folk statue here has a different feeling and appearance and contains a sacred soul as if it exudes the essence of the mountains and forests of the Central Highlands.

According to the custom of the community of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands, there are three types of statues: the statue of the tomb house, the statue of the communal house and the statue of the stilt house. If a wooden statue is placed in the tomb for the dead, the statue in the stilt house is for the living.

In the past, Tay Nguyen wooden folk statues were created to serve religious activities with many spiritual elements. Currently, along with the development of modern society, wooden statues have been used a lot in life, as a decorative product in many places such as restaurants, parks, etc. Tay Nguyen folk wooden products has gone beyond the villages, introduced and promoted the region’s culture to tourists near and far.

Artisan Y Thai Eban , Kmrong Prong B village, Ea Tu commune, Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak

During more than 30 years carving traditional wooden statue of Ede ethnic group, artisan Y Thai Eban has created thousands of different works, describing the culture, life, spirit and personality of Ede people in the past three decades in each of his works.

The work called “Visiting the fields” shows a man carrying a “xa gac” (a type of knife used by ethnic minorities in Central Highlands), with his wife carrying a small child in front and rice in the back, going to the fields by artisan Y Thai Eban won the first prize in the statue carving contest held in Kon Tum province.

Artisan Y Thai Eban often sculpts statues according to the meaning of each month, because the scene of activities and beliefs of the Central Highlands people is very clear. Each season has different worshiping ceremonies. In March, 4 statues are associated with the rituals of worshiping the wharf, praying for health and visiting the fields; In May and June, statues are associated with rice cultivation, offerings to rice plants and seed planting ceremony, etc.

With his passion for the profession, artisan Y Thai also inspires the preservation and transmission of the profession to the younger generation.