Xoan singing – A Cultural heritage needs to be preserved and promoted for cummunity benefits

Monday, April 20, 2020 12:48:05 PM

Phú Thọ is an original, spiritual homeland combined with the intellectual knowledge of Lạc people which creates unique cultural features of the Fatherland. And Xoan singing is one of these genius features. 

Xoan singing is a traditional ritual folk singing, organized to perform at village communal house during the festivals, mostly during the Spring. Therefore, it can be called as Spring singing festival. Xoan singing is also mentioned in the legends of Hung Empires. It is said that it was traditional singing which favored by the Queen, concubines then taught and shared with each others before being inherited to present.
In Xoan performance, dancing is also a unique feature of Việt people in the Northern delta but the main component is still Xoan singing. There are 4 villages that have original Xoan performance family lines, which are Thét, Kim Đơi, Phù Đức and An Thái in Việt Trì metropolitan. From these villages, Xoan performance (guilds) family lines go to 17 different village communal houses in the former Vĩnh Phú province. Wherever they perform, they create a strong cultural sharing and connection with local people. In principal, the performance order can be briefed as follow:

No.

Name of song

Singer

Dancer

Meaning

King welcome singing

1

Opening

Xoan leader

4 singer

To offer an invitation for gods to listen to the ritual singing.

Four opening songs

1

Giáo trống

Singer

Male instrumentalist holding the phách (clappers) to dance

To beat the drum, fire firecrackers, offer incence. It contains ritual and offering procedures to pray for prosperous and healthy  life.

2

Giáo pháo

Singer

Male instrumentalist holding the phách (clappers) to dance

3

Thơ nhang

singer

Both instrumentalists and female singers dance

4

 Đóng đám

instrumentalist

singer

Đám begins

The main ritual singings

1

14 quả cách

Instrumentalists, singers

No dance

Contain the Hán Nho’s art features.

Songs followed worship singing

1

Bỏ bộ

instrumentalists

singers

Dance and sing for entertainment

2

Hát đúm

Singers and local men

Singers and local men

3

Xin huê – word puzzle

cài huê songs)

Xoan leader

Singers

Escort gods for leaving

4

Mó cá

 

Singers

Show the agricultural totem.

5

Closure singing

 

 

 

In compare to other traditional ritual folksongs, although Xoan singing has similar features but it also contains some modified local features which make it to be the unique human cultural heritage. Therefore, “Hát Xoan Phú Thọ” has entirely required conditions to be profiled for UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in need of urgent safeguarding.
It can be said that the work of cultural preservation for future generation, including Xoan singing heritage, contains special social and economic functions. Then, we need to consider Xoan singing as a factor for the social and economic development of Phú Thọ province. There must be effective solutions to preserve, use, and utilize Xoan singing as a core factor to connect community, to build cultural and educational environment, as well as to plan local social and economic development with priority given to Xoan-origin areas.
During the last years, the authorities of Phú Thọ province have focused on preserving Xoan singing heritage through establishing of clubs, encouraging the teaching movement, restoring traditional Xoan singing festivals,… While completing the nomination file of Xoan singing to submit to UNESCO, we also need to implement preservation methods for our traditional culture and promote the cultural value of Xoan singing to serve the community benefits.
Recently, through mass media, we have realized that foreign tourists have shown their interests in the traditional cultural performance of Vietnam. International channels, such as CNN, BBC, AP, NHK, Discovery,… have broadcasted our unique intangible cultural products. Therefore, what we have here in Phú Thọ province are Xoan, Ghẹo which completely can become an impressive and sustainable resource for domestic and foreign tourists. Tourism is the best way to introduce and promote Xoan singing to people around the world. On the other hand, the presence of foreign tourists requires us to put more affords in preserving and improving the quality of the traditional features of Xoan singing.
Due to some reasons, Xoan singing has not yet achieved its values to serve the tourism promotion. However, there are many positive signs to show that there are ways for Xoan singing to develop. First, there is existence of communal houses in villages. These are the cultural spaces which create the traditional environment for Xoan singing to exist. Traditional Xoan festivals have been gradually recovered to be the spiritual, cultural, and entertainment places for community, bringing Xoan to integrate with its original objects. Additionally, the guidelines and policies of local governments in preserving and transmitting Xoan singing get the support and consent from people, not only in Xoan areas. The increasing awareness and understanding of people to Xoan singing contribute to the development of this art and to the expansion of cultural spaces. Not only the elder people have deep knowledge on Xoan singing, the young generation also shows their understanding on this traditional cultural art. Transmitting activities are not limited within clubs; training classes organized by governmental agencies but happened in daily life of people. This helps to improve the knowledge on Xoan singing in society.
How to explore the traditional Xoan singing heritage effectively is still an issue since tourism economy requires the development of all related agencies. From the management perspective in Culture, Sports, and Tourism, I think Xoan singing absolutely can be one of typical Vietnamese traditional performances to attract foreign tourists and be a resource for provincial tourism development.
In order to do that, the provincial department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism will collaborate with other concerned agencies to complete the profile on Xoan singing to submit to UNESCO on time with the best quality. We also have plan to promote Xoan singing to be a traditional art performance through the establishing the professional and concrete performance program, preparing performance facilities, designing unique Xoan-singing-related tourism products, combining between traditional art (Xoan singing) and local treasured architectures in the Fatherland areas. We will request the provincial People’s Committee to facilitate on working mechanism and policies for art entrepreneurs, strengthen the connection between culture and tourism as well as business sectors to enhance the ultimate value of traditional Xoan singing heritage on the Fatherland./.

Nguyễn Ngọc Ân
Director of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Department

 

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