Phu Tho moves to preserve Xoan singing
Update: Aug 04, 2015
The northeast province of Phu Tho is undertaking all necessary actions to preserve and revive Xoan singing, according to Ha Ke San, Vice-Chairman of the People's Committee of the northern province of Phu Tho. 

The province is working with the Viet Nam Cultural Heritage Association on a document to submit to UNESCO by the end of this year proposing Xoan singing be removed from the organisation’s list of heritages in need of urgent protection, San told Viet Nam News Agency correspondents. 

Xoan singing, one of the oldest forms of Vietnamese performing arts, was listed by UNESCO among the world's Intangible Cultural Heritages in need of urgent protection in 2011. 

An upcoming conference will review Xoan singing preservation efforts from 2011-2015 and gather information and feedback for reports to be submitted to UNESCO this August. 

The locality is also expected to receive comments from international experts during the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritages set to take place from November 30 to December 4 in Namibia. 

The province has been backing the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the study and collection of Xoan lyrics to accelerate the publishing of a 1,200-page book titled Hat Xoan Phu Tho (Phu Tho Xoan Singing) as a crucial part of the documentation being submitted to UNESCO. 

More than 4,000 CDs and 3,000 books about Xoan singing have also been published to promote the traditional singing. These have also been used as aids for teachers and students to introduce Xoan singing at schools. 

A number of projects have also been carried out to preserve and maintain Xoan singing-related relic sites in the locality. 

Other efforts have focused on promoting Xoan singing values with worship rituals for Hung King, closely linked with tourism and service development. 

Xoan singing performances and promotion and publicity events have been organised at home and abroad and training classes and activities have been conducted to ensure the continuity of the traditional rituals, practices and festivals. 

As many as 23 clubs have since been established across the province with 1,148 regular members and hundreds of others interested. 

A number of studies have also been funded to preserve the diversity of “xoan” singing while developing it in a more audience-friendly way to incorporate it into modern life. 

Between 2012 and 2015, 51 individuals were honoured as Phu Tho Xoan Distinguished Artisans. The province is working on presenting the title to additional individuals this year. 

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.