THE CO TU
For centuries, the Cơ Tu were wearing costumes made out of tree bark. They used 5 types of trees for their solid fiber. After removing the fresh bark, it was rigorously beaten to make it firmer, then soaked in a odoriferous mixture of water & spices for about 10 days, to both give it an aromatic fragrance and protect it from insects and finally let to dry for a month.
In march 2017, M. Bh’riu Liếc, representative of 94 Cơ Tu villages in Quảng Nam province came to my museum. After his visit, he admitted “being stunned that a foreigner is willing to preserve the heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic groups and very proud to have his culture represented at the Precious Heritage”. That day, he offered me a bark costume ; but it is only the following week, when I visited the Cơ Tu highland in Tây Giang district, that I found out that he gave me the last one available, making it a meaningful and priceless piece of the museum. Mr. Clâu Nâm, who posed in it, is 87 year old and the last person able to produce it, a knowledge passed on by his own father.