Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee recognizes efforts to safeguard Xoan singing of Phú Thọ Province (Viet Nam)
Mr Nguyễn Văn Quyết (b. 1986), leader Kim Đái Xoan guild is teaching how to sing and dance Xoan © Phú Thọ Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam, 2016
Jeju, Republic of Korea, 8 December - The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage meeting in Jeju (Republic of Korea) from 4 to 9 December has decided to transfer a Vietnamese musical tradition from the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The element ‘Xoan Singing of Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam’ was inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List in 2011 due to declining appreciation of this tradition, notably among young people. The Committee considers that efforts by local communities and the national authorities have reinforced the viability of Xoan singing, a performing art which also features dance and percussions.
Closely linked to the worship of Hùng kings, Xoan singing is a religious practice rooted in the ancestor worship of the Viêt people. It is traditionally performed during the first two months of the lunar calendar in holy places such as temples, sanctuaries and communal houses.
A safeguarding programme to counter the decline of this tradition was launched in 2013 and is due to run until 2020. The programme has led to an increase in the number of musicians practising Xoan singing from approximately 100 in 2011 to 200 today. Over the same period, the average age of practitioners fell from over 60 to 35. The programme has notably allowed for the creation of a fund and festivals, the launch of publications and documentaries alongside training activities.
Since 2009, when the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists were created, it is the first time that the Committee examines a transfer from one List to the other.
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