Bai Choi singing receives UNESCO status
Updated : Monday, May 07, 2018 11:03 AM (GMT+0700)

Aceremony was held in Quy Nhon city, south central province of Binh Dinh, on May5 to receive a certificate from UNESCO recognising Bai Choi singing, a popularfolklore style of singing in central Vietnam, as an Intangible CulturalHeritage of Humanity.

Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism (R) receives the UNESCO certificate
recognising Bai Choi singing as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - Photo: VNA

Prime Minister Nguyen XuanPhuc, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, leaders of ministries, sectors andprovinces, and representatives of UNESCO Vietnam attended the ceremony.

The PM expressed hispleasure to be present in Binh Dinh province to share joy of the local peopleon the occasion, while highlighting the folk music genre practised in Vietnam’scentral region which is both entertainment and creativeness as well as connectsthe community. 

With 12 intangible culturalheritage recognised by UNESCO, Vietnam now ranks eight out of 177 membernations of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible CulturalHeritage, he said.

By recognising Bai Choisinging as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, the worldcommunity reconfirmed Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and acknowledged thecountry’s contributions to further enriching the cultural heritage ofhumanity. 

He called on people to joinefforts in maintaining and preserving Bai Choi singing as it is now the commonasset of the humanity.

At the ceremony, Minister ofCulture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien announced the national actionprogramme on protecting and promoting the intangible cultural heritage of Bai Choisinging. 

Under the action programme,a series of activities will be implemented to promote and popularise the valuesof the heritage.

On the occasion, 400artisans and singers from nine central provinces with Bai Choi singing heritagejoined an art performance programme, highlighting the establishment anddevelopment of Bai Choi singing.

Earlier, the recognition ofBai Choi singing was made during the 12th session of the UNESCOInter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible CulturalHeritage in Jeju, the Republic of Korea (RoK), on December 7.

The folk singing genre ispopular in the central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue,Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa, and Da Nangcity. 

Bai choi is often seen atlocal spring festivals and resembles a game, using playing cards and villagehuts.

The stage for Bai choiperformances encompasses nine cottages, each containing five or six ‘players’.One of the cottages, the central house, contains a troupe of musicians andinstruments. A deck of playing cards is split in half, with one stackdistributed amongst the players, and the other placed in the central house. Thecards are stuck onto bamboo poles and erected outside the cottages. 

The game singer delivers aflag to each cottage, all the while singing Bai choi, and then draws a cardfrom the central house. Whoever holds the card closest in value to the gamesinger’s card wins. 

The Bai choi songs are aboutfestivals, daily life and work, and are accompanied by musicalinstruments. 

The game and songs weredeveloped by Mandarin Dao Duy Tu (1572-1634) to help locals protect theircrops.

According to theInter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible CulturalHeritage, Bai Choi is an important cultural activity in Vietnamese villages andcommunes, meeting the demand for entertainment and arts of the community. 

Bai Choi songs are morallessons, demonstrating patriotism, connectivity in the community and livingexperience of people. 

The Ministry of Culture,Sports and Tourism recognised Bai Choi as national intangible cultural heritageduring 2014-2016. 

Apart from Bai Choi, theUNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanityincludes other 11 Vietnamese heritage – the traditional practice of “Tho MauTam Phu” (Worship of Mother Goddesses), tug-of-war game, which is also playedin Cambodia, the RoK and the Philippines, Nghe Tinh province’s Vi-Giam folksinging, Don ca tai tu (amateur singing in southern Vietnam), Hung King worshipritual, Xoan singing of Phu Tho province, Giong festival and Soc temples inHanoi, Ca Tru (ceremonial singing), Bac Ninh province’s Quan ho (love duetsinging), the space of Gong culture in the Central Highlands and Hue's royalcourt music.


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