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Pan-pipe festival lights up Dong Van plateau

Monday, September 02, 2013, 14:12 GMT+7
Pan-pipe festival lights up Dong Van plateau
Mong ethnic boys as young as 10 can play 'khen' (pan pipes) skilfully.

The Khen Mong Festival, Mong ethnic people’s hallmark festival, in northern Ha Giang province, is running till Sept 2.

Some 209 artisans from 19 communes of Dong Van district performed ‘khen’ (Mong ethnic people’s pan pipes) and folk dances at their Dong Van regularly-held market sessions to add to the bustling, festive atmosphere.

Mong people typically perform ‘khen’ the best when they are slightly drunk with their signature corn wine. Their ‘khen’ melodies aren’t notated and thus the tunes differ each time, depending on the player’s mood and feelings.

The ‘khen’ tunes are typically used in funerals, worship rituals, and also accompany Mong people in their daily activities, including their Sunday market sessions, where they exchange with one another everything from cattle, food, necessities to other kinds of goods. Boys can play ‘khen’ beautifully since they are as young as 10. 

The festival and the market sessions have drawn flocks of tourists. Many youths explore the area, especially the UNESCO-recognized Dong Van karst plateau, on their own bikes, and immerse into the native ethnic people’s rich culture.

The Dong Van was recognized by the UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network in 2010 as one of the 77 geological parks in the world and the second in Southeast Asia, after the Langkawi Geopark in Malaysia. It remains the only one of its kind in Vietnam to earn the title so far.

Apart from the geological, geomorphologic and scenic values, the plateau also boasts traditional cultural richness with the presence of 17 ethnic minority groups, including Mong, Dao, Lo Lo, Tay and Nung, who have shared their living space with the karst formations of various shapes for many generations.

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