Gia Rai Ethnic Group

The Gia Rai ethnic minority, other names Gio Rai, To Buan, Hobau, Hdrung and Chor are concentrated in Gia Lai Province, parts of Kon Tum Province and northern Dak Lak Province.

The Gia Rai believe in the existence of Giang (Genies) and hold many giarairituals connected to their genies. They live in separate villages called ploi or bon. Houses are built on stilts. The village chief and the elders have great prestige in Gia Rai society and play a role in running collective activities. Each village has a communal house called a Rong. A matriarchal system has been adopted. Women are free to choose their lovers and decide who they marry. The husband lives with his wife’s family and has no rights to inheritance. The daughter, after marriage, no longer lives with her parents and inherits from them. The children take the family name of the mother.

Gia Rai language belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian Group. Long epics and old tales such as “Dam Di Di San” (Dam Di Goes Hunting) and “Xinh Nha” are very popular in Gia Rai society. Musical instruments include gongs, T’rung, To-Nung, and Krong-Put.

The Gia Rai ethnic garments resemble Tay Nguyen’s garments.

The Gia Rai live on slash-and-burn cultivation and terraced fields. Rice is their staple food. They also breed elephants. The men are very skillful in basketry, and the women in cloth weaving. Hunting, gathering, and fishing are other sideline occupations.

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