Then singing, the quintessence of ethnic culture

14:57 | 20/04/2018 Culture & Art

(VEN) - The 2018 Then Singing and Tinh Musical Instrument Festival, the sixth event of its kind, will take place in the northwestern province of Ha Giang on May 13 and 14. The festival is expected to attract domestic and foreign visitors seeking to discover traditional values of Vietnamese culture, and to help the highland locality promote tourism development.

then singing the quintessence of ethnic culture

According to the organizing board, this year’s festival has attracted the participation of Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic groups from 16 provinces and cities, including Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son, Thai Nguyen, Bac Giang, Quang Ninh, Yen Bai, Lao Cai, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Dak Nong, Dak Lak and Ho Chi Minh City.

Participants will include outstanding Then singing artisans from clubs and artistic troupes, and professional Then singers. The festival will offer a chance for practitioners of this ritual ethnic singing to exchange knowledge and learn from each other’s experiences in conserving and developing Then singing.

Then singing is a distinctive art form that combines songs, dances and performances. Researchers have found that Then singing varies from one region to another, but all Then songs are sung to serve the cultural lives of ethnic minority people. Professor To Ngoc Thanh compared Then singing to a diverse folk artwork that reflects all aspects of ethnic minority people’s lives. One can find in Then songs poetic genres and language arts, such as rhetoric and metaphor.

Localities where Then singing still exists have strived to conserve and develop this unique traditional art form. In Lao Cai Province, for example, the Tay ethnic people in many villages have established teams to practice, perform and teach Then singing to younger generations. Schools have also joined these efforts by putting Then singing in their curricula. Tuyen Quang Province has promoted research and collection of objects featuring the Then ceremony. In Cao Bang Province, Then singing has enjoyed a strong revival in recent years with the establishment of a number of Then singing clubs.

This year, Vietnam will submit dossiers asking the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to recognize Then Singing Practice as a world intangible cultural heritage of humanity. If it is accepted, Then singing will be the first art form practiced by ethnic people in the northern mountainous areas to be recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage.

Thanh Tam