Phu Tho acts to save cultural treasures

The northeastern province of Phu Tho has devised measures to preserve its cultural assets in the long run, including rituals worshipping the Hung Kings and “xoan” singing.

According to historians, no country in the world has rituals quite like Vietnam’s worshipping of national ancestors.

The Vietnamese have believed for generations that the Hung Kings are the founders and ancestors of the nation. As a result, worshipping them is a unique cultural ritual which has been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. 

In the near future, the province will gather information and feedback on all its cultural heritages, and come up with a preservation plan of action for each one. 

The status of xoan singing, a traditional art form also included in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent protection, has prompted various authorities to take action to ensure its continued existence. 

This year, master xoan singers will pass their skills on to young learners, especially school teachers, so they can in turn introduce it in local schools, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Pham Ba Khiem said. 

Between 2015 and 2020, the department will survey and analyse the state of xoan singing in the locality, and, based on this, will take all necessary actions. 

As one of the oldest forms of Vietnamese performing arts, xoan singing is believed to have been developed during the reign of the Hung Kings (2890 BC to 250 BC). Traditionally, singers from xoan guilds performed songs in sacred spaces, such as temples, shrines and communal houses during spring festivals. 

There are three kinds of xoan singing, including songs of worship for Hung Kings and village guardian spirits; ritual songs for abundant crops, health and good luck; and festival songs, with villagers alternating male and female verses in a form of courtship. The singing is accompanied by dance and musical instruments, such as clappers and drums. 

Phu Tho is home to over 1,370 relic sites and 260 festivals, many of which have become unique spiritual symbols, such as the festival of Hung Kings and Dao Xa elephant festival. Numerous intangible heritages, such as Moi and Chuong dance, originate here.

VNA/VOV.VN