The Montagnards of Vietnam

Named after the French term for “mountain people”, the Montagnards of the Central Highlands of Vietnam have been in this area for at least two millenia and comprise numerous tribal groups of the Mon-Khmer and Austronesian linguistic families. These include the Bru, Katu/Co-Tu, Ta-oi, Pacoh, Brau, Bahnar, Rengao, Cua, Jeh-Trieng, Hre, Sedang, Stieng, Chrau, Maa, Koho, and Mnong as speakers of Mon-Khmer languages; the Gia-rai, Rade/Ede, Roglai and Chru are among the Austronesian speakers. Total population figures are around one and a third million, with some groups as small as several hundred and none larger than 240,000. The Cental Highlands includes approximately 100,000 square kilometers from the province of Quang Binh, in the north, to Dong Nai in the south. Other members of these groups can be found to the west in Laos, and a very small number even in Thailand and Cambodia. In the Central Highlands these people have suffered greatly during, and since, the Vietnam War with their traditional way of life and society being eroded by political and outside influences: traditional clothing is no longer worn, longhouse living is declining, and rites are becoming ‘folklorized’.



Ede Longhouse

Ede Longhouse Interior

Baskets in Longhouse

Bahnar Communal House

Bahnar Communal House Interior

Gia-rai Funeral House


All photographs above were taken at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi.