Bai Choi singing seeks World Heritage status
Update: Mar 20, 2015
The Prime Minister has authorised the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to prepare application documents proposing the traditional singing Bai Choi to be declared a piece of World Intangible Cultural Heritage .

The Ministry was asked to work with the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO to submit the documents to UNESCO before March 31 of this year.

Bai Choi singing, a combination of poetry, music, singing, performance and improvisation, was invented nearly 400 years ago and serves as a community game for Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday in the central stretch of Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam and Binh Dinh, as well as Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa.

It often takes place on a wide yard in front of communal houses and brings the entire community together.

The stage for Bai Choi performances encompasses nine cottages, each containing five or six ‘players’. One of the cottages, the central house, contains a troupe of musicians and instruments. A deck of playing cards is split in half, with one stack distributed amongst the players, and the other placed in the central house. The cards are stuck onto bamboo poles and erected outside the cottages.

The game singer delivers a flag to each cottage, all the while singing Bai Choi, and then draws a card from the central house. Whoever holds the card closest in value to the game singer’s card wins.

Bai Choi songs are about festivals, daily life and work, and are accompanied by musical instruments.

The singing was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in late August last year.