|Strings of agate beads are previous assets of the K'Ho (photo: VOV)
The K'Ho consider bead jewelry a symbol of power and wealth. Rich people have full baskets of beads. Poor people have a few strings of beads, or just a few beads. More or less, every family must have agate beads.
Lieng Hot Ha Brung, patriarch of Da Don hamlet, said that in the past Cham people brought beads to the Central Highlands to exchange for goods. Agate beads were a valuable currency for trading. The number and color of beads on the chain could tell the ranking of the owner.
“We bought the beads from the Cham people. The K’Ho did not make them,” said Lieng Hot Ha Brung.
As agate beads are no longer used for trading, K’Ho people wear plastic or glass beads with 5 main colors: white, black, red, yellow, and blue. The K'Ho believe that white represents water; black represents earth; red symbolizes desire and will to rise; blue is the color of the sky; and yellow is the color of light. 5 colors combine to harmonize man and nature.
Usually the big beads are oval and the small ones are round and flat. The beads are strung by alternating colors and sizes. Patriarch Lieng Hot Ha Brung said: “There are 5 types of beads. The most previous beads are worth the largest gong of the K'Ho. So whoever wears these beads will be respected by everyone.”
Strings of beads are the most popular jewelry for K’Ho women, together with metal bracelets and earrings.
Patriarch Lieng Hot Ha Brung again: “Women wear necklaces and bracelets. They love precious and ancient agate. For wedding the bride wears beads depending on two families’ conditions.”
|A K'Ho woman gives a strings of beads to her guest. (photo: VOV)
Beads play a very important role in the marriage of K'Ho. They are an expression of love and fidelity of husband and wife. For unmarried people,beads can be used as a proposal. Beads are not only valuable gifts but also a sacred string binding couples with an oath of faithfulness.
Patriarch Lieng Hot Ha Brung explained: “According to old custom of K'Ho people, beads were a must-have item in marriage. Beads were gifts that grandparents give their children, and young children give older people to show their love.”
Lo Mu Ha Thanh of Da Lat city, said the K’Ho also give strings of beads to their guests.“K’Ho people welcome guests by giving Chài beads to women and Đại hàn beads to men. The K'Ho are matriarchal. Women are given Chài beads with respect for their main role in the family. Men are seen as blankets covering papooses and the guardians of the family, so they are given Dai han beads.”
Beads are an indispensable part of the culture, festivals, and customs of the K’Ho as they’re a symbol of trust, piety, and community bond.