The vice director of the Viet Nam Exhibition Centre for Culture and Arts, Nguyen Thi Hoa, talks to Culture Vulture about events at the centre this week that spotlight the people and cultures of the Central Highlands.
Can you introduce the programme for this year's Central Highlands Cultural Days in Ha Noi?
Images and objects of the Central Highlands will feature at the Viet Nam Exhibition Centre for Culture and Arts, along with performances by troupes and people from Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lam Dong.
The Central Highlands is known as a wide land with more than 40 ethnic groups, owners of unique and diverse cultures. When I think of the Central Highlands, I think of the mysterious and attractive indigenous characteristics. The people are warm and honest and the landscape is beautiful and imposing.
This is a large-scale programme in which we try to introduce the tangible and intangible cultural values of the area and develop its tourism sector.
The programme is divided into three sections including an exhibition on the region and each participating province, a fair featuring handicrafts and specialities and art and cultural performances.
The exhibition space focuses on portraying the traditional culture and contemporary character of the Central Highlands. Visitors will understand the similar and different features of the provinces in the region. We received support from the provincial departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Viet Nam Fine Arts Museum and Viet Nam Ethnic Groups' Culture Museum to display authentic objects at the exhibitions.
The fair will offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy cuisine and specialities which can only be found in the Central Highlands, such as grilled meat, honey, pepper, coffee, ruou can (wine drunk from a jar through pipes) and dishes featuring wild vegetable. Many artisans from the region have been invited to showcase skills such as cooking, pottery, brocade, weaving and wickerwork knitting.
What will be the highlights of the festival this year?
This is the first time we are holding an exhibition of Central Highlands antiquities organised by UNESCO's Centre for Viet Nam Antiquity Preservation and Research. The 150 valuable objects on show will include jewellery, musical instruments and costumes.
Numerous poets and performers from Dak Lak will perform a selection of famous epics. The epic poems are from various ethnic groups in the Central Highlands, including the Ba Na, E De, Mo Nong and Xe Dang.
This is the result of the dedicated work of the Institution of Cultural Studies under Viet Nam's Institute for Social Sciences.
The Central Highlands is famous for its epics about brave heroes from the past. The epics will be submitted to UNESCO soon for recognition as a world intangible and oral cultural heritage of mankind.
What difficulties did you encounter in bringing a part of the Central Highlands to the capital city?
We tried to recreate the traditional houses and landscapes of the Central Highlands. Creating a space for folk artisans to perform their skills in making handicraft is not easy. However, with the support and enthusiasm of the local people, many materials have been brought from the Central Highlands to make the festival as good as possible.
We started preparing for the event one year ago so we expect that visitors will be pleased.
While you are the organiser, you are also a Hanoian, so what do you expect from the festival?
I can't wait. For me personally, the Central Highlands is a very fascinating place that offers plenty of discover. These cultural days are expected to bring visitors on a journey into the Central Highlands. — VNS