05.12.2016 - UNESCO Office in Hanoi

Vietnamese Practices related to the Việt beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms receive inscription on UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

©UNESCO

Viet Nam, 5 December 2016 – The Practices related to the Việt beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms was among the sixteen new elements that have been inscribed to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The inscription followed the decisions adopted by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage that took place during its 11th meeting from 30 November to 3 December 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Inscription of the element by the Committee on the Representative List follows Viet Nam’s submission of the nomination in 2014 which subsequently went under examination in 2015. The spiritual practices, believed to have been developed since the 16th century are ones that have outlived the many social changes and evolving practices of the people of Viet Nam. The Viet communities living in in the northern, central parts of Viet Nam and Ho Chi Minh City, among which Nam Dinh province in the north, are among those most devoted to this viable practice.

To meet spiritual needs, everyday wishes and gain help in achieving good health and success, communities in Viet Nam worship the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms: heaven, water, and mountains and forests. The Mother Goddesses include Liễu Hạnh (a nymph who descended to earth, lived as a human and became a Buddhist nun) venerated as the Mother of the World as well as other spirits considered to be legendary heroes.

The practices involve daily worship and participation in ceremonies, rituals like the lên đồng, mediumship or spirit possession ritual, and festivals such as Phủ Dầy that take place at temples dedicated to the Mother Goddesses. These activities associated with the practice help to maintain part of the community’s history, cultural identity with some aspects incorporating traditional costumes, music and dance. Bearers and practitioners are temple guardians, ritual priests, spirit mediums, assistants and musicians who transmit knowledge and skills orally to newcomers and family members.

The practice of shared values and strong beliefs in the compassion and grace of the Mother Goddesses provides a basis for social cohesion among community members. The worshipping of the Mother Goddesses also contributes to the appreciation of women and their roles in society.

Other past Vietnamese inscriptions on UNESCO Lists include the following 10 intangible cultural heritage elements:

List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

  1. Ca trù singing (2009);
  2. Xoan singing of Phú Thọ Province (2011);

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

  1. the Space of gong culture in the Central Highlands (2008);
  2. Nha Nhac, Vietnamese court music (2008);
  3. Quan Họ Bắc Ninh folk songs (2009);
  4. Gióng festival of Phù Ðổng and Sóc temples (2010);
  5. Worship of Hùng kings in Phú Thọ (2012);
  6. Art of Đờn ca tài tử music and song in southern Viet Nam (2013);
  7. Ví and Giặm folk songs of Nghệ Tĩnh (2014);
  8. Tugging rituals and games (2015).

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is composed of intangible heritage elements that concerned communities and States Parties consider require urgent measures to keep them alive. The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance.

For more information on the worship of the Mother Goddess of Three Realms please visit the following sites:

or contact Mr Nguyen Duc Tang at nd.tang(at)unesco.org




<- Back to: UNESCO Office in Ha Noi
Back to top