The Central Highlands province of Gia Lai has devised measures to preserve the Bahnar epic poems which received the title of National Intangible Heritage in September last year, said Phan Xuan Vu, Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Gia Lai province plans to issue books of Bahnar epic poems to local schools with ethnic minority students, particularly boarding and semi-boarding schools, and sponsor folk culture concerts that include performances of Bahnar epics.

Preferential policies have also been adopted to encourage epic singers and tellers to continue performing and passing their skills and knowledge to the younger generation.

The provincial authority has nominated 15 Bahnar epic performing artists as Meritorious Artists and People’s Artists, Vietnam’s honorary titles for exceptional achievements in the arts.

Called Hoamon in the Bahnar language, the epic poems are legends about the tribe’s heroes and great events, representing centuries-old aspirations of the Bahnar people. They are long enough to sing and tell through several nights, the longest takes weeks or even months to finish, as sung by memory.

One of these legends, the epic of Dam Noi, was first discovered in the 1980s in Kong Chro. Other epics found in the region have been translated and published bilingually since 2000.

The province is currently home to 20 epic performing artists living in the districts of Dak Po, Dak Doa, Kbang and Kong Chro. They know around 70 Bahnar epic poems by heart, including Dyong Du, Dam Noi, Dio Hao Jrang, Bia Brau, Atau So Hle Kone Goseng and Giong Trong Yuan.-VNA