Inventory of “treasures”

Published: 18/05/2011 05:00



While the Cultural Heritage Agency is combining with local governments to make an inventory of intangible cultural heritages in the country (which will finish in October 2011), the Vietnam Folk Culture and Art Association has “inventoried” folk cultural and art heritages of 46 out of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam in the last ten years.

Hue city royal court music has been recognized as the world intangible cultural heritage.

Perhaps the criteria of the two inventories are different, but the inventory results of the Vietnam Folk Culture and Art Association are valuable, which shows a panorama of the current situation of intangible heritages in Vietnam.

Prof. To Ngoc Thanh, Chairman of the Vietnam Folk Culture and Art Association, talked about the “inventory”.

“In 2000, we were aware of the great threats to Vietnam’s folk intangible cultural heritages. Some heritages could not be saved. Some others still existed but they were nearly dead because artisans who practiced and preserved them passed away, or if they were alive, they were at the age of 70-80. Many artisans were very weak. Their memory and health was very poor so their ability to transmit the heritage was limited.

In that situation, we designed a plan named “Vision 2010”, which aimed to mobilize all 1,500 members of the Vietnam Folk Culture and Art Association throughout Vietnam to discover, investigate and answer the question: “what heritages does your location have and how is it now? Through this plan, we have collected and maintained almost all intangible cultural heritages of ethnic groups in Vietnam and discovered living artisans and urged them to transmit their skills to the youth.

I have worked with the UNESCO since the 1990, so I’ve learned from them valuable recommendations which are suitable to the situation of heritages in Vietnam. All major projects that the Vietnam Folk Culture and Art Association has performed so far, for example, the inventory of intangible cultural heritages in Vietnam, honoring artisans who UNESCO calls “living human treasures”, preserving heritages, etc., originated from UNESCO’s recommendations.

Since 2000, the Vietnam Folk Culture and Art Association has finalized the inventory of intangible cultural heritages of 46 out of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. We have divided intangible culture heritages into many categories: production culture, social culture, daily life culture, spiritual culture, art-cutlure, etc.

The inventory of intangible cultural heritages of the remaining eight ethnic minority groups who live in remote and isolated areas will be implemented in the upcoming years. Our inventory results are published in a two-episode book (photo).

In the book, heritages are also divided for each ethnic group, with comments on their current situations and suggested solutions to preserve them. For example, the Ba Na ethnic groups have 26 heritages, which are located in Gia Lai and Binh Dinh provinces. There are many heritages that need urgent preservation like Dam Joong and Dam Du epics, Binh Dinh folk art, Cau suc khoe (Pray for health ritual), etc. We have performed research of some of the heritages but some of them have not been researched by any agency.

In the near future, we will continue the inventory at the remaining 8 ethnic groups, continue granting the title “Folk Artisan”, continue our research of folk art and continue resuming nearly-lost cultural heritages.

However, we will focus on the project to publish and diffuse folk culture-art assets of ethnic groups in Vietnam. Accordingly, we will select, edit and publish around 2,000 research works made by over 1,000 members in the last 30 years.

Last year we printed over 200 books, including bilingual books (Vietnamese and the language of ethnic minority groups in Vietnam). It is scheduled that 2,000 books will be published from 2011 to 2020 to supply readers with encyclopedic knowledge about folk culture-art of Vietnam. These books will be presented to universities, research institutes and boarding schools in provinces.


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