The Hưn mạy is a musical instrument that all Khang people, young or old, can play. It is accompanied by drums and gongs to create joyful music for singing and dancing.
The Hưn mạy consists of a long bamboo tube with one end split into two prongs. The player holds the unsplit end in one hand and beats the two prongs against his other hand to make a unique twanging sound. Some people decorate their Hưn mạy with colorful fabric tassels.
|Hưn mạy of the Khang ethnic people in Quynh Khai district, Son La province.
Lò Thị Phắư, who knows a lot about the Khang customs and culture in Chieng On commune, says the Khang used to live in the high mountain forests close to rivers and springs. Their lives and production were completely dependent on nature.
They used the materials nature provided to make their musical instrument, according to Phắư.
“They select an old bamboo tree from which to make a hưn mạy. The cut bamboo is dried over a woodstove until it turns yellow. Then it’s cut into pieces of about 40 to 60 cm. One end of each bamboo stick is split into two prongs. Two holes are drilled into the handle for greater resonance,” Phắư said.
|Khanh people perform Hưn mạy dance.
Khang people often gather to sing and dance on full-moon nights. The girls beat their hưn mạy accompanied by drums and gongs to unwind after a hard day’s work. It’s a chance for young people to find their future spouses.
“In winter, teenage boys and girls often gather around a wood fire to sing and dance. When they tire of dancing, they sit down to drink wine and continue to sing,” Phắư said.
Hưn mạy can always be heard at community events and festivals. A group of 8 to 10 people beat hưn mạy and dance in a circle to entertain the crowd.
Dieu Thi Nhat, Head of the Quynh Nhai district Culture and Information Office, said: “The Khanh folk culture includes tăng bu and hưn mạy dancing. Ethnic dances and songs are at risk of dying out, so in recent years local authorities have paid greater attention to preserving them.”