Vietnam Time

4/24/2018 7:50:12 PM

Bai Choi's UNESCO status to be celebrated in 400 artist performance

About 400 artists will perform in a ceremony on May 5th in Quy Nhon city to honorarily recognise Choi singing (a genre of folk music practised in Vietnam’s central region) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The event is co-organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Binh Dinh province People’s Committee.

Bai choi is often seen at local spring festivals and resembles a game, using playing cards and village huts. (Photo: VNP)

On the occasion, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will unveil a national action plan to protect and promote the treasured culture of Choi singing.

Ho Quoc Dung, Chairman of Binh Dinh province People’s Committee said the province is finalising a project for the preservation of the art form and to honour individuals and communities that have made contributions to introducing the genre of folk music to the wider public.

Choi singing is a diverse art combining music, poetry, acting, painting, and literature which originated in the central region, mostly in the provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan.

The recognition was made during the 12th session of the UNESCO Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Jeju, the Republic of Korea (RoK), in December 7th, 2017.

Bai Choi artists in Binh Dinh perform together.

With the recognition, Bai Choi singing has become the 10th Vietnamese heritage honoured as representative cultural heritage of humanity.

Bai Choi singing originated from the daily life of people in rural areas in the central region. Therefore, the melodies and songs of Bai Choi are fairly popular, reflecting the simple souls and feelings of farmers as well as the social and cultural issues affecting their lives.

The structure of a traditional Bai Choi singing festival contest consists of nine bamboo huts with four huts standing parallel and one in the middle where the game’s umpire sits. The game starts when the umpire who wears a traditional costume gives the players three bamboo or wooden cards printed with pictures and words. When the umpire sings a sentence of a folk song that has the same words as the card of a player, he or she hits the wooden bell to signal that his or her card matches the umpire’s words and becomes the winner.

The umpire must have a wide knowledge of literature and the ability to quickly and humorously improvise. During the game, the beat of the drums, the ringing of wooden bells and the melodies of a two-stringed fiddle are necessary to make the festive atmosphere more ebullient and interesting. The audience can not help laughing when the umpire runs around shouting witty songs and poems. The rule of Bai Choi is not focused on winning but rather at relaxing and enjoying the mood.

The festival of Binh Dinh Bai Choi is an activity to further promote the unique artistic genre of the land. It is also expected to make a contribution to the target of submitting a profile of the cultural space of Binh Dinh Bai Choi to UNESCO for recognition as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

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

Bai Choi songs are moral lessons, demonstrating patriotism, connectivity in the community and living experience of people.

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

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