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Art - Culture news

Pao dung singing of Dao people is recognized as a heritage

These days, Dao people in Tuyen Quang province are very excited because Pao dung - the sweet folk song of the Dao people has just been added to the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Artisan Phan Van Phu of Dao ethnicity, from Village 5, Tan Thanh Commune, Ham Yen District, said that in the Dao language, "Pao dung" means "singing." 

Pao dung singing is a folk song of the Dao people, a means to convey the feelings, emotions and desires of the Dao people in their daily life.

According to artisan Phan Van Phu, Pao dung singing was born and developed from production labor, from the spiritual and religious life needs of the Dao ethnic community. Pao dung has been handed down for generations, existing to this day and become a special cultural activity of the Dao people in Tuyen Quang.

Artisan Trieu Van Long of Dao ethnicity in Trung Son commune, Yen Son district said: “For Dao people, the art of Pao dung has always been preserved as a treasure. When the new year and the spring comes, young Dao women and men invite each other to sing from village to village.”

The passionate song made them forget days and months. It seems that the Pao dung meetings never end so that around August or September of the lunar calendar when the crop is harvested, boys and girls in the village continue to sing the Pao dung melody.

Pao dung singing is divided into different categories: daily singing includes lullabies, fun songs, love songs, conversational songs….; ritual and custom singing consists of songs used in traditional Dao rituals such as  grown-up ceremony, weddings, funerals, full month offerings ...

Pao dung singing in labor includes songs praising the production labor, praising the natural beauty, shifting cultivation or the experiences of weather and seasons accumulated and transmitted from one generation to another. Pao dung singing promotes the spirit of creative work, morality, life, behavior, praises the nature and love for couples.

Pao dung singing is lyrical and smooth, showing the bright and simple features of Dao people's soul. The greatest cultural value expressed in the Pao Dung tunes is the orientation of educating people to understand the ethnic origin and homeland.

Many profound content is conveyed in folk tunes with reference to relationships in families, relatives, brotherhood, couple love, production labor ...

Currently, the Dao ethnic group in Tuyen Quang province has 9 branches (groups) of Dao, each living with other ethnic groups in a certain area. In particular, Dao Quan chet , Dao Cooc mun, Dao Co ngang ngang, Dao Quan Trang, Dao O gang live in Yen Son district, Son Duong. The branches of Red Dao, Dao Thanh y, Dao Tien and Dao Ao dai are concentrated in Na Hang, Chiem Hoa and Ham Yen districts.

Paodung singing differs from one Dao branch to another. For instance, the love song of the Dao Ao Dai has its own characteristics, showing the delicacy in the emotional relationship between men and women.

When a boy wants to become acquainted with a girl, he will sing: "I am fortunate to meet you today; however, I am afraid that you would not agree to talk to me and I will only carry my admiration for you inside.” If the girl agrees, she will reply "I am also enthusiastic to meet a guy who likes me, time seems to freeze when we are walking together...."

Mr. Nguyen Viet Thanh, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Tuyen Quang province shared his concern: “Most ancient Pao dung dances were written in Nom script - Dao (Dao people’s writing).

People who know the Nôm - Dao language are mainly shaman; they only care about the songs in religious rituals, so there is a high risk of losing other Pao dung songs.”

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Tuyen Quang province is working with their districts to develop programs and plans to conserve and preserve Pao dung singing in localities in accordance with the traditions and expectations of the people.

Documents and ancient books about Pao dung are also collected to be translated into standard Vietnamese to be distributed as propaganda materials. 

Every year, not only Pao dung singing contest is held at different level in village, commune and inter-commune level; but also seminars took place.

These activities help the younger generation to learn and absorb the cultural quintessence left by their ancestors. It inspires and encourages the pride in the ethnic identity of Dao people, especially in the youth generation./.