Bilingual art book features Vietnamese folk arts, festivals

Update: October, 28/2021 - 08:43
Gánh Hát Lưu Diễn Muôn Phương (Touring Theatre), a bilingual art book featuring 36 Vietnamese folk music, theatrical performing arts and traditional festivals. File photo from

HCM CITY — A group of young artists in HCM City will release a new bilingual art book featuring 30 folk music genres and theatrical performing arts, and six traditional festivals of Việt Nam.

Gánh Hát Lưu Diễn Muôn Phương (Touring Theatre) was created by Thảo Hồ and illustrated by Tấn Nguyễn. It was translated into English by Ngô Mỹ Triều Giang.

The 200-page book will introduce music genres from different regions of the country, such as hát xẩm (blind busker's singing) of the North, nhã nhạc cung đình (royal ceremonial music) of Huế, and đờn ca tài tử (tài tử music) of the South.

It will present theatrical performing arts like chèo (traditional Vietnamese opera), and dù kê, a unique style of musical theatre created by the Khmer in southern Việt Nam.

Dù kê originated in Trà Vinh in 1920 from local farmers who loved to sing. The art is a product of the creativity of the Khmer.

The group invited cải lương (reformed opera) artist Bạch Long to give advice on folk arts in the South.

Long began his love affair with cải lương when he was 12 years old. He was trained by his father, the late People's Artist Thành Tôn, and other talented actors like Minh Tơ and Thanh Tòng. He won two gold medals for Best Actor at the National Cải Lương Festival in 1982 and 1987.

The book will feature traditional festivals like Saint Gióng Festival in Phù Đổng Village in Hà Nội's Gia Lâm District, and Ok Om Bok, one of the annual major traditional festivals of Khmer people in southern provinces.

The Saint Gióng festival is a traditional event in north Việt Nam, held annually from the 6th-12th of the fourth lunar month with a series of processions, rituals and performances.

It commemorates the legendary national hero who grew overnight from a three-year-old boy into a giant to help rid the country of foreign invaders.

Ok Om Bok, also called the Festival of Worshiping the Moon, takes place under the full moon in the 10th lunar month annually. The Khmer believe the moon is a god who controls the weather and crops throughout the year.

Thảo, the book’s creator, said she was born in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Vĩnh Long, so cải lương and đờn ca tài tử became part of her childhood. When growing up, she travelled across Việt Nam and learned about folk arts and traditional festivals.

“I had an idea of developing an art book to introduce my interesting discoveries about Vietnamese folk arts to readers. In 2019, I met Tấn Nguyễn and we made our dream come true,” Thảo said.

The book is expected to be released in January by Vietnamese comic company Comicola.

It will have two versions, including limited editions numbered 1-500 priced at VNĐ200,000 (US$8.77), and another one at VNĐ129,000.

It is available for pre-order at — VNS