|The winner of the game holds the flag. — VNS Photo Phước Bửu|
by Phước Bửu and Nguyễn Văn Sum
Hundreds of people flocked to Gia Viên, a village on the outskirts of Huế, early this morning to cheer the swinging chair game, called đu tiên in the Vietnamese language.
The game is set up on an empty plot in the village, with a swinging bamboo chair hanging on an at least 5m tall bamboo scaffolding structure. An official of the village’s committee of elders said the bamboo trees were brought to the site some 10 days ahead of Tết, or the Lunar New Year, for installation.
According to tradition, the game is held on the fourth day of Tết and the installation of the structure must be completed ahead Tết for safety checks under the expertise of the elderly. The game initially began as a form of recreation for villagers and residents of the nearby villages, until it gradually became a tradition over centuries.
According to the official, the game is also a means of promoting training for the physical fitness of villagers.
First an athlete steps up to stand on the swinging chair and ties himself with a rope to avoid falling from the chair during the game. He then rocks himself up and down to create momentum for the hanging bamboo chair to swing. The momentum keeps increasing so that the chair can swing high enough for the athlete to touch a flag hanging on top of the bamboo structure.
The athlete who touches the flag at its highest position winds the first place, while the others who touch the flag at a lower level get the second and third prize.
At the end, the elderly lit incense to thanks the gods for a safe and successful game, while wishing for the same in the following year.
All athletes playing the game are dressed in the áo dài – the Vietnamese traditional costume – and the fluttering of the dress flaps in the air lends the game a unique charm. Each swing of the chair is accompanied with loud cheers from the audience, resulting in a happy and joyful mood during Tết. — VNS
|The athletes are also cheered on with drum beats. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Văn Sum|
|The game also attracts the attention of the children. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Văn Sum|