Phu Tho receives UNESCO heritage of humanity certificate for Xoan Singing
Update: Feb 05, 2018
Xoan Singing of the northern province of Phu Tho received a UNESCO certificate of an intangible cultural heritage of humanity at a ceremony at Lai Len Shrine, Viet Tri city, Phu Tho on February 3.

The event was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs Nguyen Thuy Anh, Deputy Foreign Minister, Chairman of Viet Nam's National UNESCO Committee Le Hoai Trung, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) Dang Thi Bich Lien, Michael Croft, head of office and UNESCO country representative to Viet Nam, among others.

Addressing the ceremony, Michael Croft expressed his delight to present the certificate, underlining that the art form is closely associated with Hung Kings worship of Vietnamese people while helping increasing mutual cultural exchanges in the community.

He congratulated the Government of Viet Nam, the MoCST, Viet Nam's National UNESCO, local authorities, and Xoan singing groups on their contribution to preservation of the art form.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said Viet Nam has numerous heritage honoured by UNESCO, including Xoan Singing in Phu Tho, adding that the recognition reflects the international community’s acknowledgment of the efforts made by the province and community to preserve the heritage.

Dam hailed the contributions the artisans have made to teaching and keeping Xoan Singing in the community, as well as the joint efforts made by ministries, sectors, UNESCO, and Phu Tho province over the past six years to compile a national dossier on Xoan Singing to be recognised as an intangible heritage of humanity.

On the occasion, Bui Minh Chau, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee approved an action plan on protecting Xoan Singing in Phu Tho - the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity from 2018 - 2023.

Closely linked to the worship of Hung kings, Xoan singing is a religious practice rooted in the ancestor worship of the Vietnamese people. It is traditionally performed during the first two months of the lunar calendar in holy places such as temples, sanctuaries and communal houses.

There are three forms of Xoan singing: worship singing for the Hung kings and village guardian spirits; ritual singing for good crops, health and luck, and festival singing where villagers alternate male and female voices in a form of courtship. 

The Vietnamese musical tradition was inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2011 due to declining appreciation of this tradition, notably among young people. 

The performing art was transferred to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2017 in recognition for efforts by the local communities and the national authorities to reinforce the viability of Xoan singing.