Chu Ru
Pediment with ascetic figure, Po Rome, Ninh Thuan, 14th-16th century AD, sandstone - Museum of Vietnamese History - HCMC
Total population
 Vietnam 23,242 (2019)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Lâm Đồng - Bình Thuận
Languages

The Churu (or Chru) people are a Chams related ethnic group living mainly in Lâm Đồng, and Bình Thuận provinces of Central Vietnam. They speak Chru, a Malayo-Polynesian language. The word Churu means Land Expander in their language.[2]: 12–15  The Churu's population was 23,242 in 2019.[1]

During the French colonial period, the most influential highland leaders in Đà Lạt area were Churu. They were said to be the most advanced among the highlanders because of their historical links to the Chams.[3]

History

According to most of village elders (tha ploi) of the Churu people in Lâm Đồng, the Churu people were originally a group of close descendants of the Cham people who lived in the South Central Coast of Vietnam. In order to serve the constant wars with the Khmer and the Vietnamese, the Chams aristocracy carried out exploiting their fellow laborers very badly. They forced the laborers to go deep into the forest to find ivory, rhino horn and precious forest products or go down to the river panning gold to tribute. Forced coolie recruit, soldier recruit constantly made the life of Chams farmers very hard. To avoid that heavy oppression and exploitation, some were forced to leave their homeland to find a new land. And they were the first immigrants who gave themselves the name Churu as it is today. They were the people who brought with them rice farming and pottery making of the Cham people.[4]

Encouraged by Touneh Hàn Đăng, the Churu adopted some economic innovations from the Chams in the fields of weaving, pottery, and plowing in 1907.[5]

Economic Activities

Farming

The Churu are mainly residents of wet rice cultivation, unlike other Lâm Đồng indigenous residents who cultivate slash-and-burn agriculture.[2]: 24 

The Churu have long known to turn animal husbandry into an active support for agricultural farming. Large cattle such as buffaloes, cows and horses are not only used for sacrifice but also bring benefits of plowing power and fertilizer. They also know how to make production tools such as plows (Chru: lơngar), harrows (Chru: sơkăm) out of wood or metal.[2]: 25 

The Churu also appreciate the importance of irrigation. The system of dams, large ditches, auxiliary ditches, leading to the fields of each family, clan, and the whole village is regularly repaired, renovated and upgraded. They often build dams by using soil, stones, and wood to block a stream or a tributary to store and actively water irrigation.[2]: 26 

Hunting

The Churu people catch fish in several ways, one of which is pounding the roots of trees with poisonous resins and mixing them with spring water. In the idle farming months, Churu men go to the forest to hunt animals. They have a lot of experience in making poison arrows and traps for wild animals. Animals hunted with trap or crossbow include: pig, deer, monkey, weasel and other small animals. The form of collective hunting is often organized in many villages, but hunting is no longer popular today.[2]: 29 

Basket with straps, Chu-ru, Đơn Dương, Lâm Đồng, 2000 - Vietnamese Women's Museum - Hanoi

Gathering is the work of women who traditionally go around with Austroasiatic carrying baskets on their back for various types of harvest. Wild vegetables and field vegetables make up the main part of the dishes. Bamboo shoots and some wild fruits are also commonly used foods. Dioscorea hamiltonii (Vietnamese: củ mài) are used as the main source of food in times of failed crop. The Churu also collect other forest products such as: Auricularia auricula-judae (Vietnamese: mộc nhĩ), mushrooms, honey, Wurfbainia villosa (Vietnamese: sa nhân).[2]: 30 

Culture and Religion

The traditional religion of the Churu is Animism, their deities are divided to 2 groups: Yàng (Land deities) and (Sky Deities).[2]: 93  A number of Churu villages started receiving Christian missionaries starting in the 1950s.[6]

Bok Bơmung (Festival in Temple) is the biggest folk festival of the Churu, held in February of Lunar Year, lasting in 3 days.[2]: 94–95 [1]

Notable persons

References

  1. ^ a b c "Bơmung festival of the Churu people". baolamdong.vn. Retrieved 2023-07-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Churu people in Lâm Đồng" (PDF). thuvienlamdong.org.vn. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  3. ^ Gerald Hickey, Sons of the Mountains: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese Central Highlands to 1954, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 313, 314
  4. ^ "The Churu people in Lâm Đồng". lamdong.gov.vn. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  5. ^ Gerald Hickey, Sons of the Mountains: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese Central Highlands to 1954, p. 316
  6. ^ a b "The Churu people and Ka-Đơn church". saobiennhatrang.net. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  7. ^ a b "The Cham's First Highland Sovereign - PO ROMÉ" (PDF). chamstudies.wordpress.com. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Old Lâm Viên province via Annals of Nguyễn dynasty". baolamdong.vn. Retrieved 3 July 2023.