I met the Ba Na people for the first time in 2013, during a motorbike trip between Hoi An and Kon Tum. This ethnic group is well known for the spectacular architecture of their communal house often called Rong House, built at the centre of each village. It is characterized by its columns, which suspend it about two metres above the ground – protecting them notably from tigers! – and a roof that reaches up to 20 meters in height, symbolizing the prosperity of the community.
The women of this ethnic group are recognized for their extraordinary talent as weavers and learn the art of weaving using a traditional loom as early as 13 or 14 years of age. The Ba Na people no longer wear their traditional dress every day, particularly in communities near urban areas, but some continue to make it and wear it during festivals to celebrate the New Year. Partnerships have recently emerged to foster the preservation and the passing down of this tradition. Lang Yen was 6 years old when I met her in 2017. She was not in traditional costume, but wore it with pride to strike a pose. I went to see her again in 2018 as part of my “Giving back” project, that now provides her with financial support for the entirety of her education.