Tool creating fire - the cultural uniqueness of ethnic Kh'mu

Monday - 08/12/2014 04:30
In Son La, the ethnic Khmu accounts for 1.13% (9,950 people) of the total population. They live in the middle and high land regions in some districts Cultivation method is mainly shifting cultivation; today, they combine with farming water rice. Previously Khmu lived a nomadic life; so all furniture in the family is rudimentary, simple, convenient and practical for their lives
In Son La, the ethnic Khmu accounts for 1.13% (9,950 people) of the total population. They live in the middle and high land regions in some districts Cultivation method is mainly shifting cultivation; today, they combine with farming water rice. Previously Khmu lived a nomadic life; so all furniture in the family is rudimentary, simple, convenient and practical for their lives.
The tool creating fire is one of the items cre-ated by the men of Khmu. They take advantage of available fuel in nature to fabricate the tool creating fire to serve essential needs of cooking and lighting in every family. This kit is not necessarily passed down f-rom generation to generation. With creativeness, wisdom and some experience obtained by the next generation, when moving to a new residential location, they choose bamboos in forests and easily cre-ate a kit creating fire. When making the fire-creating tools, the men of Khmu pick up old bamboos in the forest in the afternoon of sunny days in order that the bamboos will be dry and convenient to use. Do not choose bamboos without their top because these trees are often brittle than others. When they bring sections of bamboo to their house, they do not allow women to step over these bamboos because they think that: In a month, the women are "punished by God” for several days, so if they step over these materials, these materials will not cre-ate fire.
To fabricate the fire-creating tools, regardless of the time of picking the bamboos, the men only spend about 15 minutes to complete.          
- Firstly, they split the bamboo into two tubes with the length of 75 cm and the width of 5 cm. They pierce two holes in two ends to keep hook           
- Secondly: Split the bamboo into two tubes with the length of 37cm and the width of 7cm. Use knife to pierce a hole with 2cm in length in the middle of trough bamboo.
- Thirdly: Make two latches 23cm long with hooks, sharpen one end.
 - Fourthly: Use knife to scrape gently into bamboo sections and cre-ate a handful of tinder to ignite.
After preparing the tools above, the men concentrate on preparing the necessary actions to grinding out fire on about 5 to 7 minutes. Consist of 3 steps:
1. Put the long bamboo pieces leaning on the ground and put two latches deeply into the ground through the two holes, hook with hollow to prevent the bamboo pieces to move when grinding
2. Put the tinder in the middle of the trough bamboo in a bamboo internode and then put the short piece of bamboo to be perpendicular to the long one. The hollow well matches with the sides of the short piece in the position of the tinder. This is the grinding part to cre-ate fire.
3. When grinding, firmly keep the short piece of bamboo and slowly grind in the perpendicular direction to the long one. The speed of grinding increases steadily until friction is enough to generate heat; high temperature will produce smoke involving in the tinder. The worker picks this tinder on others and blows until generating fire.
Previously, every family has a kit of fire-creating tools; however, today the prices of consumer goods are competitive with a variety of types and models so the Khmu ethnic people rarely use the kit of fire-creating tools. Only a few families living far f-rom the center use it because they find it simple to grind and blow out the flame. This is a c-haracteristic culture imbued with national identity that is stored in the museum of Son La province to introduce the masses
Translate: Tien Sinh

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