They have developed and continued to maintain unique customs, festivals, folk arts, and cultural values.
The Chu-ru include about 20,000 people who live mainly in Lam Dong and NinhThuan province. They are also sometimes called the Chu Ru, Chơ Ru, Choru, Kru, or Ru.
Their language, Chru, belongs to the Malay system of languages. The Chu-ru live in hamlets, each led by an elected patriarch, who chairs all village events. Their main crop is rice.
A Chu-ru extended family of 3 or 4 generations live together. Both the men and the women wear headscarves. The traditional costume for men at important events is a white over-the-shoulder poncho and pants.
Their everyday wear is white pants and white long shirt. Women wear blouses and navy skirts, covered by a white cape during festivals and a black cape the rest of the year.
A popular carrying container for the Chu-ru and other ethnic groups in the Central Highlands is the papoose. It’s a household utensil that contains important cultural value, reflecting the Chu-ru life style and worldview.
Ma Huong of P’re hamlet said the papoose is woven from bamboo and dyed red and black using leaves.
When not being used, a papoose is hung above the kitchen to keep its colors unfaded. “My grandparents and parents taught me how to make papooses and use them when I was small. We use a papoose to fetch water and collect corn from the terraced fields.”
In February and March, when white coffee blossoms cover the mountains of the Central Highlands, it is wedding season for the Chu-ru. The Chu-ru are matriarchal and the women take the initiative in marriage.
Representatives of the girl’s family accompanied by a match maker bring an offering to the man’s family. The match maker wears a bracelet and a ring for the man as a marriage proposal.
If the man’s family agrees, their representative gives the girl a ring. Silver rings are marriage guarantees.
Ya Tuat, a silver artisan in Don Duong district, Lam Dong province, said, “I’ve been making silver rings for 20 years. I studied the craft for 3 years before beginning my job. I’ll teach the craft to others to preserve our tradition.”
The Chu-ru have a treasury of folk-songs, proverbs, tales, and epics. They make many kinds of musical instruments including drums and clarions.