http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/USL/00538

Xoan singing of Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

Country(ies): Viet Nam

Identification

Description

Xoan singing of Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam

Xoan singing is practised in Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam, in the first two months of the lunar year. Traditionally, singers from Xoan guilds performed songs in sacred spaces such as temples, shrines and communal houses for the spring festivals. There are three forms of Xoan singing: worship singing for the Hùng 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. Each Xoan music guild is headed by a leader, referred to as the trùm; male instrumentalists are called kép and female singers, đào. Although only four traditional guilds remain, in recent years the singing has been taken up by clubs and other performing groups. Xoan singing is accompanied by dancing and musical instruments such as clappers and a variety of drums. The music has a spare structure with few ornamental notes and simple rhythms, and Xoan is characterized by a modulation between singers and instrumentalists at the perfect fourth interval. Knowledge, customs and techniques for singing, dancing and playing drum and clappers are traditionally transmitted orally by the guild leader. However, the majority of bearers are now over sixty years in age, and the numbers of people who appreciate Xoan singing have decreased, particularly among the younger generations.

Documents

Decision 6.COM 8.23

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:

  • U1: The residents of Phú Thọ Province recognize Xoan singing as part of their intangible cultural heritage that defines them as a community and provides them a sense of identity and continuity;
  • U2: Transmission is weakened because of a lack of resources and particularly due to the lengthy time needed to master the songs; the bearers are all elderly and young people migrate away from the province, while industrialization and changes in lifestyle and occupations contribute to a lack of interest;
  • U3: Practical measures have been taken by the communities and submitting State to strengthen the viability of Xoan singing, and viable and realistic plans are proposed for the next four years; both the communities and the State have demonstrated their commitments, with the State leading the effort;
  • U4: The communities concerned, practitioners and institutions participated thoroughly in the nomination process, taking an active role in the planning and implementation of safeguarding measures and committing themselves to respect and protect the sacred aspects of the element;
  • U5: Xoan singing is included in the inventories of the Vietnamese Institute for Musicology within the Vietnam National Academy of Music, of the Viet Nam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies within the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Phú Thọ Province.

Inscribes Xoan singing of Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
Invites the State Party to streamline the number of involved parties, to ensure that the community is fully involved in the implementation of the safeguarding plan and to undertake the necessary measures to ensure respect for the cultural and social contexts where Xoan singing is performed while preserving it from folklorization and the possible impacts of tourism.

Slideshow

Video


© Vietnamese Institute for Musicology, Vietnam

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