“Elephant land” garden to preserve Central Highlands culture

February 26, 2023 - 08:03
To preserve the uniqueness of the culture of the Central Highlands, 37-year-old Võ Minh Luân has travelled all over the country collecting artifacts about elephants for over 10 years.
Luân is proud of his collection of elephant statuettes. — Photo sggp.org.vn

HCM CITY — To preserve the uniqueness of the culture of the Central Highlands, 37-year-old Võ Minh Luân has travelled all over the country collecting artefacts about elephants for over 10 years.

Dubbed “Elephant land”, Luân’s small garden and exhibition space in Đung Village in Đắk Lắk Province’s Cư Êbur Commune displays thousands of elephant statuettes, along with thrilling stories that he has collected.

The garden encompasses a strong message to protect elephants that are on the verge of extinction in the Central Highlands.

Luân’s favourite piece is an elephant statue which is 90cm high and 1.3m long, and it is placed at one of the most prominent spots in his garden.

Luân got the statue from collector Trần Đức Hòa.

“I could not resist the beauty of the elephant statue Hoà displayed. The fine lines, the colour of the ceramic glaze and the shape of the statue made it look like a real elephant. Seeing that I was captivated with the culture of the Central Highlands, Hoà opened his heart and agreed to share this precious elephant statue. Since then, I have considered this elephant statue a priceless gift, the soul of "Elephant Land", Luân said.

Luân has, in fact, built a wall of elephant artefacts and each artefact entails a different story that he is able to tell.

He is also proud of the forest elephant hunting kit of the M'Nong ethnic group. While the pad on the back of the elephant is made from forest bark, the elephant rope is made of buffalo hide. The kit also comes with many other rudimentary tools used in hunting and taming wild elephants of the ancient Central Highlands.

Danger of extinction

Being born and raised in Đắk Lắk Province, Luân has been immersed in the unique culture of the Central Highlands since childhood and was always eager to learn.

In 2010, when working in HCM City, Luân often visited antique markets to collect artefacts from the Central Highlands to display in his home.

The more he collected, the more fascinated he became by the unique culture in the land he was born in. Gradually, for nearly 10 years, his house is filled with objects about elephants and the culture of the Central Highlands.

Elephant, according to the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands, represents the strength of local villages and clans and are a sacred symbol, respected by all families.

Images of elephants are often depicted in history books and special festivals. It is crucial for legends about elephants to be handed down to the future generations.

That being said, elephants in the Central Highlands are in danger of extinction.

The number of wild elephants has decreased dramatically due to shrinking forests and poaching of elephants for ivory.

“The 'Elephant land' is not only a tourist attraction but also serves as an inspirational spot, encouraging all of us to join hands to protect the small number of elephants in the Central Highlands, preserving the beauty of the traditional culture of our own hometown,” Luân confided.

According to Đặng Gia Duẩn, deputy director of the Đắk Lắk Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Luân’s 'Elephant land' is a precious collection imbued with traditional cultural values typical of the Central Highlands and makes an important contribution to preserving the cultural values of the Central Highlands through the art of pottery, among others.

Relevant authorities will continue to create favourable conditions for Luân to continue expanding his activities of preserving the ethnic culture in an effort to prevent extinction of wild elephants in the area. — VNS