|Historical tradition: A bai choi performance. Viet Nam is composing a dossier to seek UNESCO global intangible cultural heritage recognition for the traditional game. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Le Lam
BINH DINH (VNS) — Amid the changes of modern life, arts researchers are concerned that traditional activities could disappear. They are particularly worried about bai choi, a traditional musical game from the central coastal region.
The issue was discussed at a workshop on Saturday in the central province of Binh Dinh, known as the cradle of the musical game.
"We focused on the history and culture of the art; music used in the art; its condition in localities; and an action plan to protect and develop its value," said Nguyen Binh Dinh, head of the Viet Nam National Academy of Music, which co-ordinated with Binh Dinh Province to hold the event.
The workshop was one of several activities Viet Nam has organised in order to compile a national dossier to seek UNESCO recognition of bai choi singing as human intangible cultural heritage. The practice was recognised as National Intangible Cultural Heritage last month.
Bai choi, which can be described as Vietnamese bingo in huts, is often played at local festivals. The game was created by Dao Duy Tu, an outstanding mandarin under the reign of the Nguyen Lords (1558-1777) about 400 years ago. The unique beauty in the stilt bamboo huts that peasants erected to watch their fields inspired Tu to create a community game called bai choi. The game features songs that describe local festivals, life and work.
The traditional musical game is still played in 11 central cities and provinces, with Binh Dinh the key "contributor" to the dossier. The province currently has about 150 artists, including 28 groups and 22 associations, according to head of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Dung. There is also a scheme to establish one group of artists in every hamlet by 2020. The project encourages senior artisans to educate younger generations, in addition to organising seminars, performances at tourism areas and exchanges with other localities in the region.
"In recent years, we have brought bai choi singing to the province's traditional festivals to introduce the unique cultural art form of the central region to people nationwide and abroad," said Dung.
At the one-day workshop, managers, researchers and artists discussed the art form's uniqueness, in addition to shortcomings in preservation and development.
"To maintain a loyal audience and to sustain bai choi, we need to create ‘products' of good quality and attach more importance to including the art form in school education," said artist Hoang Minh Tam, dean of Nha Trang City's Culture, Arts and Tourism College.
Wrapping up the conference, vice minister of culture, sports and tourism Dang Thi Bich Lien ordered localities to examine the state of bai choi and propose a practical conservation and development plan. — VNS