Xoan Singing, one of the most special art forms in Vietnam’s northern province of Phu Tho, has been presented to a group of international cultural heritage experts, newswire Vietnamplus reported Thursday.
“Hat Xoan” (Xoan Singing) was introduced to foreign experts on intangible cultural heritage from Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, South Korea, Cambodia, and Indonesia on October 8 at Lai Ken Temple in Viet Tri, which is the capital city of Phu Tho.
This activity was meant to promote the image and value of Xoan Singing on the occasion of the 2015 Sub-Regional Meeting for Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding in Southeast Asia.
The first version of the conference, which seeks ways to preserve regional intangible cultural heritages in the context of rapid urbanization, modernization and globalization, took place in Indonesia in 2012 with the participation of 11 nations, Vietnamplus reported.
The singing, performed by artisans from local Xoan communities including Phu Duc, Kim Doi, and Thet, impressed international visitors with its beautiful melody and unique dance movements.
Hlaing Win Maung from the Myanmar Ministry of Culture expressed his interest in the lifestyle in Vietnam’s villages and the art of Xoan Singing, which allows both youngsters and elders to dance and sing together
Over the past years, Phu Tho Province has taken numerous measures to preserve Xoan Singing, including promoting research, training, compiling information about the heritage, as well as proposing policies to honor Xoan artisans.
Last year, the provincial authorities decided to introduce Xoan Singing to schools, by inviting local artisans to perform and pass down their skills to students.
The children were also encouraged to study and watch videos about the history of Xoan Singing, which is now in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of urgent protection.
“Hat Xoan” is practiced in Phu Tho during the first two months of the lunar year.
Xoan performances are often staged in sacred spaces such as temples, shrines, and communal houses for the spring festivals.
Xoan singing has three forms, including worship singing for the Hung Kings and village guardian spirits; ritual singing for good crops, health and luck; and festival singing where villagers alternate male and female voices in a form of courtship.
A group of Xoan singers consist of ten to fifteen performers led by a “trum,” while male instrumentalists are called “kep,” and female singers are called “dao.”
Besides singing, performers also dance and use musical instruments such as clappers and drums.