Paranung drum – Pride of the Cham people

Sunday, 2018-04-29 08:39:43
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To play a Paranung, Mu Tuan puts the drum on top of his stomach, holds it tight and uses his hands to tap on the surface, producing different sound levels. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO – Every year when the indigenous Tagilau flowers are in full bloom across the forests and mountains, the Cham people of Ninh Thuan province joyfully celebrate Kate festival, their most important event in the year.

An indispensable part of the festival are the musical instruments, including a set of three Ginang drums, Saranai trumpet, and Paranung drum, and their beautiful sounds have become a pride of the Cham people.

The instruments not only produce unique and charming music but they also connect to each other and symbolise parts of the human body, according to Cham people’s belief. A pair of Ginang drums represent two legs, and Saranai trumpet the human head, both play an important role in Cham people’s religious life and practices.

Meanwhile, the Paranung drum symbolises the human body, in another word, his internality. The Paranung drum is a sacred item of Mu Tuan, a shaman in rituals and religious practices in the village.

To play a Paranung, Mu Tuan puts the drum on top of his stomach, holds it tight and uses his hands to tap on the surface, producing different sound levels.

The harmony between Paranung and other musical instruments are accompanied with ritual songs and lullabies, creating a treasured memory for every Cham person from their very young, while nurturing the vitality of Cham people.

Meritorious Artisan Phu Binh Don is the only master in Vu Bon hamlet of Phuoc Ninh commune in Thuan Nam district who still makes and performs on Cham people’s traditional musical instruments. Since he was 16, he assisted his father, artisan Phu Loc, to make Ghinang and Paranung drums, and Saranai trumpets.

According to Don, it takes six to seven days to make a complete Paranung drum. Before taking the instruments on the stage, which are the heritage of his ancestors, Don carefully cleans them as a ritual to ask for the approval of the ancestors.

Not only bestowed with excellent playing skills of his father, Don has also learnt from other artisans in neighbouring hamlets to perfect his performance. He is also willing to teach others to play Paranung, and many of his students have now become instrumentalists playing at the Kate festival.

Despite his old age, he still works passionately to preserve and promote the sound of Cham people’s instruments.

Whenever Kate festival comes around, the Paranung drums join other instruments and melodies to convey the Cham people’s wishes for favourable weather, bumper crops, and peace and happiness.