Proper name: Xo Teng (Hdang, Xdang, Hdra), Mnam, Ca
Dong, Ha Lang (Xlang), Tay Tri (Tay Tre), Chau.
Other names: Hdang, Kmrang, Con lan, Brila.
Population: 96,766 people
Local groups: Xo Teng, To Dra, Mnam, Ca Dong, Ha Lang,
Tay Tri, Chau.
Language: Sedang language belongs to the Mon-Khmer
language family (Austroasitatic language family). Their language is
very similar to Hre, Bahnar and Gie-Trieng languages. There are some
different vocabularies among groups. The Sedang use the Latin alphabet
for their writing system.
History: The Sedang are long time inhabitants around
the area of Truong Son – Tay Nguyen central highlands regions in Quang Nam, Quang Ngai
Economic activities: A faction of the Sedang practice wet-rice cultivation. Their
cultivation technique is not all that well-developed. They work the
fields by herding water buffaloes into it, so that the buffalo’s hooves
work the soil. They use hoes, which are made from wood (steel ones are
used now). The majority of Sedang work on terraced fields, using the
same techniques and tools as other ethnic groups in the region. They
use the axe and machete to cut down trees, and then burn them. To plant
seedlings, a hole in the ground is made using a pointed digging stick
with an iron tip. To weed, the Sedang use little hoes made from tree
branches. At harvest, the Sedang
pluck the ears of rice off with their hands. In addition to rice, the
Sedang also plant millet, corn, cassava, pumpkin, tobacco, melon,
pineapple, banana, sugar cane, etc. traditional domestic animals are
water buffaloes, goats, pigs, dogs, and chickens. Fruit picking,
hunting and fishing are also play an important role in their economy.
Among the Sedang, weaving appears in many regions. Hammerings is highly
developed within the To Dra group. They know how to transform one into
iron for hammering. In some places, the Sedang are gold-washers.
Bamboo is also developed to produce household
furniture. Although barrier trade was commonly practiced, nowadays,
the Sedang use money for most of their transactions.
Diet: The Sedang
eat rice and sticky rice with chili salt and food hunted or gathered
in the forest. Only when worshipping do the Sedang eat meat and
poultry. Popular foods included soup cooked with vegetables or bamboo
shoot mixed with fish and meat, snails, and grilled foods. The Sedang
drink fresh water (many boiled water nowadays), and wine. There is a
special wine made from millet which is much better then from rice or
In some places, the Sedang have the custom of eating betel
nut. Men and women both smoke tobacco into powder and chew it instead
of smoking it.
Clothing: Men wear loin cloths.
Women wear skirts and blouses. When it is cold, they wrap themselves
in blankets. In the ancient past, many of the Sedang wore clothes made
from bark. Today, Sedang men wear clothes in a style similar to the
Viet, and women wear shirts and skirts made from ready made materials.
Sedang traditional textiles are
either white or lack, with only a little black, white or red
Lifestyle: The Sedang live in Kon Tum province, Tra My
and Phuoc Son district of Quang Nam province, and Son Tay district of
Quang Ngai province. The largest population of Sedang is around the
Ngoc Linh Mountain. They live in stilt houses. In the past, the
Sedang households used to live together in a longhouse, but now there
is a greater tendency to split into small family units. The location of
houses differs among groups; in some groups, private houses are
clustered around a communal house. Building techniques rely on the use
of columns, and fiber lashings hold the various architectural elements
together. There are two rows of columns in each house.
Transportation: The Sedang use carrying baskets those vary in form and
technique. Some are thickly woven, others are of thin weave. Some
baskets have lids, others do not; some are decorated. Men have their
own three-compartment baskets (some in the form of a snail, others
resembling bat wings) which they carry on the shoulder to transport
just about everything.
Social organization: Each village is self-ruled, with
the eldest man as its leader. The village’s territory is communal, and
every individual has the right to own land. Even though there has long
been a distinction between rich and poor, there has not been a practice
for the former exploiting the later. In the past, there was servitude, but servants were not badly
treated. A sense of community is highly regarded.
Marriage: This custom is a bit different in each
region. However, it is a popular Sedang custom that after the wedding,
the couple rotates the residence every couple of years so that they can
live with both set of parents. The couple will live permanently in one
place only after both sets of parents are deceased. In the wedding,
the groom and bride chicken thighs, wine, and food which symbolize the
connection between the two. Marriage is not commercialized.
Everyone in the village comes to offer their condolences, and to help
with the funeral. The coffin is made from unpolished wood. People are
normally buried in the village cemetery. Sedang funeral customs aren’t
completely analogous to those of other ethnic groups in the region: the
ceremony to abandon the tomb, characteristic of the Bahnar and Giarai,
does not exist everywhere. The custom of chia cua
(conservation of property like the clothing, personal objects, farming
tools and household utensils, etc.) for the deceased is widespread.
Beliefs: The Sedang believe in supernatural powers.
Gods and ghosts are called Kiak (Kia), or “Ong”, “ba”, some
places call them Yang. Important gods are Lighting God, the
Sun God, Mountain God, Rice God, and Water God. The water God is in the
image of a serpent, or a big eel, or a pig with a white nose. The
Sedang Rice God is in the image of an ugly, old but kind woman, who
later becomes frog. There are many rituals offered to supernatural
powers to pray for good harvest, for peace, and to send away bad lack.
Festivals: The most important festivals are the rituals
to the Water God on the yearly occasion of repairing water pipes.
There are other rituals held at the beginning of each crop season,
while seeding, in the middle of the crop season, when harvesting, when
there is someone sick, when building a new house, when children are
grown up, etc. There are many communal religious festivals such as the
offering sacrifices to the Water God and the buffalo sacrifice held by a
family or a village. Traditional holidays happen at different times in
different villages and families, but they usually occur in January and
lasts for 3 to 4 days.
Calendar: There are 10 months in the Sedang calendar
connected to the agricultural cycle. There is a rest after the harvest
to wait for a new crop. Each month has 30 days. Each day is divided
into specific moments and called different names. There are good days
and bad days. For examples, the last day of a month is good for
planting corn; if the Sedang chop down bamboo at this time, it is said
that they can use it for a long time and it won’t spoilt.
Artistic activities: The Sedang have many kinds of musical instruments
(two-stringed Chinese violin, flute, pipe, drum, gong, horn, etc.). Some
are for daily use; some are for festival use only. Instruments and
melodies are different among groups. Popular types of music are: call
and response or alternating verse of young couples, songs of grown-ups,
lullabies. The Sedang perform dances in some festivals; there are
specific dances foe men, women, and both together. Sedang folktales are
rich and distinctive.