The Rade (also Ê Đê or Rhade) are an Austronesian ethnic group of southern Vietnam (population 270,348 in 1999).


A Rade longhouse.

The Rade language is one of the Chamic languages, a subfamily of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Other Cham languages are spoken in central Vietnam and in Aceh, Sumatra; The Cham are more distantly to related to the Malayic languages of Indonesia, Malaysia and Madagascar and to the Philippine languages.

The Cham developed a writing system developed on the basis of the Latin script in the 1920s.

A kind of bamboo bag, created by mythological character Y Rit and has a form of pơ lang flower's sepal.

Kinship and Social Structure

The Rade practice matrilineal descent. Descent is traced through the female line, and family property is in the hands of and inherited from women. The basic kinship unit is the matrilineage; these are grouped into higher-level matrilineal sibs (matrisibs). The Rade are further divided into two phratries.[2]

The women of a matrilineage and their spouses and children live together in a longhouse. The lineage holds corporate property such as paddy land, cattle, gongs, and jars; these are held by the senior female of the matrilineage. The lineage also engages in the farming of common lands and maintenance of the longhouse. The head of the longhouse itself is a man, with the position most commonly inherited by the spouse of the daughter or sister-in-law of the previous longhouse head.[3]

Matrilineages and matrisibs are exogamous, with both sexual intercourse and marriage prohibited. The phratries also impose some restrictions on marriage. Couples violating these restrictions must sacrifice a buffalo, though violating phratry restrictions are generally not seen as being as serious, and require only the sacrifice of a pig. Residence is matrilocal.[4]

Rade villages were traditionally autonomous and governed by an oligarchy of leading families. Some villages became locally dominant, but none formed any larger political structures.[5]



Epics (Rade language: klei khan), such as Klei khan Y Dam San, H'Bia Mlin, Dam Kteh Mlan, Mdrong Dam, etc. are told by epic tellers (Rade language: po khan) next to the fire, through the night.


Ede music is very diverse and playing music is the way that Ede people communicate to both other people, and according to their beliefs, God (Ede language: yang).

Musical instruments

The Đinh vuốt, a vertical flute used by the Rade people
  • Gong: There are several sets of gongs used. The knah gong set is made up of six suspended gongs :knah, hlinang or knah hliang, mdu khơk or knah khơk, hluê khơk or mong, hluê hliang, hluê khơk điêt or k'khiêt, knah di, and the largest one is ching sar; as well as two bossed gongs: mđũ and ana (there is also h'gor drum). The others are: chinh k'ram. Rade gong culture has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
  • Flute (Ede language: đing): đing năm, ky pah, đing tak ta (or đing buốt klé), đing buốt tút, đing buốt trok, đing rinh, đing téc, đinh tút.
  • String instrument: brố, goong.
  • Others: chinh đing aráp, gông kram, đing pah, đing ktuk, đing pâng, kni.

Style of music

  • Kư- ứt: a kind of telling the epic accompanied with đing buốt trok.
  • Ayray: a kind of love songs accompanied with đing năm.


A typical house of Rade people is the longhouse made of bamboo and wood. The longhouse's length is measured by the number of collar beams (Rade language: de). Once a girl living in the house gets married, the house is lengthened by one compartment, as the matrilocal aspect of Rade marriage means that the husband will live in his wife's house. The orientation of buildings are North-South.

The longhouse's space is divided into two parts: Gah part's area makes up 1/3- 2/3 the total area is considered as the living room and the other part includes bedrooms. There are two doors: the front door is for men, the back door is for women and two stairs: male stair and female stair.

Longhouses can be 100 meters long and house from three to nine families. A traditional description of the size of the longhouse is: "The house is as long as the gong's echo".

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, American and South Vietnamese military advisers feared that the Viet Cong would convert Rhade tribesman in the Đắk Lắk Province to their support. They instituted a program by which American Special Forces sought to train the Rhade in "village self-defense programs."[6] These self-defense programs were highly controversial.

According to William Duiker, United States Foreign Officer and East-Asian professor, the training efforts, called "Civilian Irregular Defense Groups" (CIDG), were plagued with problems of arbitrary authority on the part of Vietnamese authorities and officers. During the summer of 1964, "...Vietnamese arrogance led immediately to problems, and in September a serious revolt broke out among the Rhadé [sic] tribesmen in Ban Me Thout. Only with the aid of U.S. advisers was the crisis defused."[7]

The Rade made up a portion of the United States' Montagnard allies, and after the war some fled to the United States, mainly residing in North Carolina.[8]

Notable Rade people


Customary law

L. Sabatier has collected 236 articles. The highest number of articles is of marriage and family matter, followed by property ownership and relationship between the head of villages and villagers. The main principles are that communal nature and equality are under guarantee. Judges are called khoa phat kdi.


  1. ^ "The 2009 Vietnam Population and Housing Census: Completed Results". General Statistics Office of Vietnam: Central Population and Housing Census Steering Committee. June 2010. p. 134. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Lebar p.253
  3. ^ Lebar p.253
  4. ^ Lebar, p.253
  5. ^ Lebar, p. 254
  6. ^ Kelly 6-7
  7. ^ William Duiker (1981). The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam (2 ed.). Westview Press. p. 246. 
  8. ^ "MONTAGNARDS - Their History and Culture". Cultural Orientation Resource Center. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 

Works cited

External links