Chau Van Singing

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"Chau Van" (or "van" singing) is an ancient form of art performance that is featured with religious color. It originated in the Red River Delta of Northern Vietnam in around 16th century and widely spread to surrounding areas.

“Chau Van” enjoyed its golden age in the late of 19th century and the early 20th century. However, at the end of 20th century, “chau van” was considered as superstition and thus, banned by the government. Since 1990s, it got the chance to develop one again. Nowadays, Nam Dinh Provinces is well-known as the land of “chau van” in Vietnam.

“Chau Van” is the blend of dancing and singing and usually performed in religious liturgies of “len dong”. “Len dong” is a religious rite of hypnotizing a person in order to welcome deities to his/her body. That person is called “cung van” and plays the most important role in the liturgy. “Cung van” has to sing, dance and wear clothes of the deity who is going to be in his/her body. By doing this, another one can talk to deities and pray for health, prosperity, etc. The main instrument used is a “dan nguyet” (moon-shaped lute).

“Chau Van” is appreciated as an artistic form of the spiritual world. At present, “chau van” is nominated by Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism to be a UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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