Ha Long Bay

Geographical position

Situated in the north-east region of Viet Nam, Ha Long Bay is a part of Bac Bo Gulf and comprises the sea area of Ha Long City, Cam Pha Town and a part of Van Don island district, Quang Ninh Province. It borders Cat Ba Island to the south-west, the mainland to the west with a 120km-long coastline.

Natural Beauty

Ha Long Bay covers a total area of 1,553km², including 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the south-east (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay) and the south-west (belonging to Ha Long Bay). The average geological age of the islands is between 250 and 280 million years old.

Ha Long Bay has been called by the great national poet Nguyen Trai: "a marvel of the earth erected towards the high skies". While exploring the bay, tourists will feel lost in a legendary world of stone islands which shapes change depending on the angle and the light. There are many names given to islands according to their shapes and forms such as Hon Dau Nguoi (Human Head Islet), Hon Rong (Dragon Islet), Hon Canh Buom (Sail Islet), Hon Trong Mai (Cock and Hen Islet)… But the beauty of Halong Bay does not consist only in the forms of its mountains, islands and the colour of its waters, but also in its infinitely rich system of grottoes and caves such as: Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace Grotto), Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto), Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), Tam Cung (Three Palace Grotto), Trinh Nu (Virgin Grotto)... Each is a grandiose and refined natural architectural creation.

Geological value

The most remarkable geological events of Ha Long Bay’s history in the last 1,000 years include the advance of the sea, the raising of the bay area and the strong erosion that has formed coral and pure blue and heavily-salted water. This process of erosion by sea water has deeply engraved the stone, contributing to its fantastic beauty. Present-day Ha Long Bay is the result of this long process of geological evolution that has been influenced by so many factors. It is because of all these factors that the tourists now visiting Ha Long Bay are not only treated to one of the true wonders of the world, but also to a precious geological museum that has been naturally preserved in the open air for the last 300 million years.

Value of biological diversity

Results of scientific research show that Ha Long Bay features ecosystems of a tropical ocean region such as ecosystem of coral reefs with 232 species of coral distributed mainly in the areas of Cong Do and Bo Hung. It is also home to 81 species of gastropoda, 130 species of bivalvia, 55 species of polycheta and 57 species of crab. The ecosystem of salt water-flooded forests chiefly concentrated in the zones of Tuan Chau, Cua Luc and Ba Che has the most diversified collection of species of salt water-flooded plant in North Viet Nam. Also living in this ecosystem are a great many species of animals: migrating birds (200 species), polycheta (169 species), seaweed (91 species), reptile (10 species). Ha Long Bay also has ecosystem of tropical rain forests with various rare and precious creatures: deer, weasels, squirrels and in particular, white-tabby and red-haired monkeys. In addition, there is a system of small caves along the sea, which are the living and development places for many animals and plants: seaweed, water plant, algae, fish and shrimp. Deeper into the water, there are also many species of shrimp, fish, abalone and other sea-specialities.

Historical and cultural value

Ha Long is a place closely linked to Viet Nam’s history with such famous geographical names as: Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port); Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems by emperors and other famous people of the past); and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors). This is not all, Ha Long has been proven by scientists to be one of the first cradles of human existence in the area, with such archaeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu and Thoi Gieng…

On December 17, 1994, Ha Long Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for its natural beauty at the 18th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Thailand. On December 12, 2000, Ha Long Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for the second time based on its geological value at the 24th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Cairns, Australia. The recognised site covers an area of 434km², comprises 775 islands and forms a triangle: with Dau Go Island (Driftwood Grotto) to the west; Ba Ham Lake (Three Shelter Lake) to the south and Cong Tay Island to the east.

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park lies in Quang Binh Province - the central Viet Nam. Covering an area of about 200,000 hectares, Phong Nha – Ke Bang situated in Quang Ninh, Bo Trach, Tuyen Hoa and Minh Hoa districts, is 50km northwest of Dong Hoi City.

Phong Nha - Ke Bang can be compared to a huge geological museum thanks to its complicated geological structure with different categories of stone including sandstone, quartz, schist, siliceous limestone, granite, granodiorite, diorite, applet, pegmatite, etc. Phong Nha-Ke Bang is the oldest and largest tropical karst formed 400 million years during the main geological periods of the Earth, bearing the original topographic and geologic characteristics. Experiencing major tectonic phases, high mountain ranges and the depressed sedimentary basins were formed. These fluctuations have also contributed to the diversity of geology, topography, and geomorphology.

Phong Nha - Ke Bang karst mountains can provide a lot of valuable information about the Earth's prolonged geological process through various periods, from the Ordovician Age - Silurian Age (about 463.9 - 430 million year ago) to the Quaternary Age (1.75 million years ago). It is also noteworthy to mention a geological characteristic – the system of underground rivers and grottos in Limestone Mountains.

In the non-karst geomorphologic area, there are many low mountains covered by a floristic carpet. The erosion has created a number of abrasion-accumulation terraces along the valleys of the Son and Chay rivers and at the margins of the central limestone massifs. The transition terrain consists of a diversity of rock intercalated by Limestone Mountains.

Besides the historical value of geology, topography, geomorphology, Phong Nha - Ke Bang is also favoured with the mysterious and majestic landscapes by nature. The Phong Nha - Ke Bang Natural Park still hides various myths of nature. It also has spectacular karst caves formed for hundreds of millions of years.

Locating in the area with a high average rainfall, however, few rivers and streams can be seen because water is absorbed to run inside Limestone Mountains. Therefore over tens of million years, water has eroded rocks, creating numerous caves in the area. Phong Nha - Ke Bang area is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves and grottos, divided into three main systems: Phong Nha Grottos, Vom Caves, and Ruc Mon Caves.

The Phong Nha grotto system is over 57km long in total, rising from south of Ke Bang Limestone Mountain. The main entrances are Khe Ry and En Grottoes situated at a height of 300m above sea level. The grottoes of this tree-branch system run in the direction of northeast-southwest.

The system of Vom caves is over 35km long, rising from Ruc Ca Roong Cave located at a height of 360m above sea level and ending with Vom Cave. The system runs south and north. Ruc Ca Roong River sometimes hides in mountains, sometimes appears in narrow and deep valleys, and flows into the Chay River at the entrance of Vom Cave.

The system of Ruc Mon caves that lies in the district of Minh Hoa is also a large cave. However, the information about this system is not abundant because few surveys have been conducted in this area so far.

Some typical caves and grottoes in Phong Nha - Ke Bang are Phong Nha, Tien Son and Thien Duong grottoes, Toi, En and Khe Ry caves. Especially, Son Doong Cave is considered as the largest cave in the world with 200m in height, 200m in width, at least 8.5km in length.

With its characteristics of topography, climate, soil and hydrography, Phong Nha - Ke Bang boasts a rich, diversified and unique flora. Investigations show that Phong Nha - Ke Bang has a large tropical forest floor. It covers 96.2 percent of the natural area, of which nearly 90 percent is covered by primeval forests. The diversity of rare and precious species of animals and plants in Phong Nha - Ke Bang is corollary of its natural conditions, and is a feature of the forest ecosystem.

Statistics show that the flora of Phong Nha - Ke Bang belongs to 152 families, 511 branches, and 876 species, including 38 listed in Viet Nam’s Red Book, 25 in IUCN’s Red Book (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and 13 endemic species.

A very important discovery in this national park is three rare and precious species – Sao la, Mang lon and Mang Truong Son - were founded in this area. Especially, Sao la and Mang lon are new species discovered in the world. Of the 81 recorded reptile and amphibian species, 18 are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and 6 in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. In addition, there are 259 butterfly species, 162 fish species including 4 endemic ones in Quang Binh only and one first found in Viet Nam; 302 bird species including 15 species listed in Viet Nam’s Red Book and 19 in IUCN Red Book. Particularly, black-comb blue pheasants (ga loi lam mau den), white-tail blue pheasants (ga loi lam duoi trang) and peacocks are the global-level endangered species. Phong Nha - Ke Bang is considered a huge biological museum in Viet Nam.

With its vivid evidences of geological and geomorphologic values, Phong Nha – Ke Bang has been declared a world natural heritage by UNESCO at the 27th meeting in Paris in July 2003.

CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES

Complex of Hue Monuments

Location

Complex of Hue Monuments lies along the Perfume River in Hue City and some adjacent areas of Thua Thien Hue Province. Hue City constitutes the cultural, political and economic centre of the province, and was the old imperial city of Viet Nam under the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945.

History

Since 1306, after the wedding of the princess Huyen Tran of the Tran Dynasty with Che Man, the Cham King, the territories of Chau O and Chau Ly (comprised of Quang Tri, Thua Thien - Hue and part of Northern Quang Nam today) took the name of Thuan Hoa. In the second half of the 15th century, under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong, the name of "Hue" appeared for the first time. In 1636, the residence of the Nguyen Lords was settled at Kim Long (Hue). In 1687, it was transferred to Phu Xuan – where is the Citadel today. Early in the 18th century, Phu Xuan became the political, economic and cultural centre of the southern part of Viet Nam. Then, from 1788 to 1801, it became the capital of the Tay Son Dynasty.

From 1802 to 1945, Hue was the capital of unified Viet Nam under the reign of the 13 Nguyen Kings. During these years, architectural works of a high cultural and historic value were built: the Citadel, especially the Imperial City (including 253 constructions), 7 Royal tomb compound of 9 kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Esplanade of Nam Giao, the Ho Quyen arena and the Hon Chen Temple.

Cultural values

Located in the centre of Hue, along the Perfume (Huong) River’s northern bank, the complex of royal architecture represents and demonstrates the power of the Nguyen Dynasty's centralism. Contained in this complex are Kinh Thanh Hue (the Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (the Royal Citadel or Imperial City) and Tu Cam Thanh (the Forbidden Citadel) clustered together, symmetrically placed along the longitudinal axis and facing to the south.

The system of walls combines sophisticatedly both eastern and western architectural styles placed in natural harmony with Ngu Binh Mount, Perfume River, Gia Vien and Boc Thanh islets. Even people implicitly consider these natural landscapes as a part of the complex.

Surrounded by a square wall, almost 600 metres in length on each side, the Imperial City has four gates, of which the south gate (Ngo Mon) is most typical in construction and is widely seen and recognized as the symbol of Hue Citadel. It served not only as the main entrance but was also the place where important events of the dynasty took place. Within the area of the Imperial City, the Forbidden Citadel was the area reserved for daily activities of the royal family.

The main north-south axis, called Than dao (miraculous road), runs through the three walls of the Hue Capital Citadel, Imperial City and Forbidden Citadel and was marked with the important constructions of Hue Citadel. Hundred of small and large buildings were built symmetrically along this axis in harmony with their natural surroundings gives one a feeling of gentle and serenity. These buildings include Nghinh Luong Pavilion (Pavilion for Fresh Air), Phu Van Lau (or the Pavilion of Edicts was the building where Emperor's edicts and lists of successful candidates of Thi Hoi (National Examination) and Thi Dinh (Court Examinations) were publicised), Ky Dai (Flag Tower), Ngo Mon Gate (the main entrance), Thai Hoa Palace (The Throne Palace, or Palace of the Supreme Harmony, was the building for great court's meetings), Can Chanh Palace (the place for every day working of Emperors), Can Thanh Palace (Emperor's Private Palace), Khon Thai Residence (Queen's Private Apartment), Kien Trung Pavilion (the place for daily activities of Emperors)...

In the distance, to the west of the Capital Citadel, along the Perfume River, are the famous royal tombs and temples, masterpieces in landscape architecture built by the Nguyen Dynasty. Each royal tomb aimed at creating a living place for royal pleasure before becoming an eternal resting place after the king’s death. This resulted in the architecture of royal tombs in Hue being distinguished by unique characteristics.

Each tomb reflects its owner’s life and character: the magnificence of Gia Long’s tomb in the immense landscape of mountains and jungles represents the spirit of a general in war; the symmetry and majesty of Minh Mang’s tomb combiners both man-made and natural mountains and lakes and reveals the powerful will and solemn nature of a talented politician who was also an orderly poet; the peaceful and sombre qualities of Thieu Tri’s tomb reflects the innermost feelings of an outstanding poet who made few achievements in political life; the romance and poetic atmosphere of Tu Duc’s tomb evoke the elegant and subtle tendency of a poet rather than the strong characteristic of a politician.

In addition, place-names that embellish for the beauty of the Complex of Hue Monuments can be named as: Huong River, Ngu Binh Mountain, Thien Mu Pagoda, Bach Ma Mountain, the Thuan An and Lang Co Beaches...

At the meeting of the 17th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Columbia, from the 6th to the 11th of December 1993, UNESCO has come to the decision of recognising the architectural ensemble of Hue as a world cultural heritage. This was a noteworthy event in the cultural history. For the reason that Hue is the first site in Vietnam ever listed in the World Heritage list.

As to the cultural value, a World Cultural Heritage Site, like the Complex of Hue Monuments, has to: - Be representative of an original artistic achievement, a masterpiece created by Man’s hands; - Have a great value for its building technique or its architecture in a general development plan for a city or in a program for the embellishment of the sight of a world cultural zone; - Be representative of an architectural ensemble of an important historical period; be closely related to important events, to ideas or beliefs having a great influence or to famous historical personalities. In the closing report of the above-mentioned meeting, the WHC has briefly assessed the value of Hue as follows: "The architecture of Hue, which has been the Capital of a unified Viet Nam, built at about the beginning of the 19th century, combines the oriental philosophy with the traditions of Vietnam. Intimately mingled with the natural environment, the beauty and special richness of the architecture and decorative art of the building are an original image of the Vietnamese monarchy at its most prosperous period"

Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An is an old town down the Thu Bon River, on the coastal plain of Quang Nam Province, about 30 km south of Da Nang City. Hoi An used to be known on the international market with many different names such as Lam Ap, Faifo, Hoai Pho and Hoi An.

What is so special about Hoi An is that this little port town is in an incredible state of preservation. It offers some of the most densely-concentrated sights in Viet Nam with its old streets bordered with ancient houses and assembly halls, its pagodas, temples, ancient wells and tombs. In total, more than a thousand places of interest. The architecture of Hoi An is characterised by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An is still respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and of its sophisticated culinary art. Set in a quiet environment, Hoi An is surrounded by peaceful villages that have crafts such as carpentry, bronze making, ceramic...

Researchers said most of the buildings in Hoi An underwent restoration at the beginning of the 19th century, even if they might be constructed long time ago. The ancient architecture shown most clearly in the Ancient Town that located in Minh An Ward. It covers about 2 square kilometres and almost of all famous relics in Hoi An are gathered here. The streets are very short and narrow, having a winding, crossing as the chessboard style. The topography of the ancient town tilt gradually from north to south. The buildings in the old town is built mostly with traditional materials such as: brick, wood and no more than two floors. The traces of time is able to find not only on the architectural design of each building but also everywhere like: on the yin-yang roof tiles covered with moss and plants; the old grey mold walls; the pictures carved on a strange animal, or describing a old story… Having inherited a multi-cultural architecture so varied and sophisticated, Hoi An must have attracted numerous and talented workers in carpentry, ceramics, and woodcarving from China, Japan and other regions of Viet Nam.

For centuries, Hoi An had developed into a melting pot of various nationalities who came to the area, bringing along their own cultures. Accordingly, Hoi An features the co-existence of indigenous customs and habits and those imported by foreign settlers.

There are animist cults, of the Genie-Whale and worship of deities of natural phenomena (such as rain, wind, thunder), but also the worship of Holy Protectors like Thien Hau, Quan Cong, Bao Sinh Dai De, Avalokitesvara, especially among the Chinese community. They hold regular festivals or cultural and religious activities on the occasion of Tet Nguyen Tieu (the 16th day of the 1st lunar month), Thanh Minh (3rd lunar month), Doan Ngo (the 5th day of the 5th lunar month), Trung Thu (the 15th day of the 8th lunar month), Trung Cuu (the 9th day of the 9th lunar month), and Ha Nguyen (the 15th day of the 10th lunar month).

The social and cultural diversity adds up to the uniqueness of Hoi An’s inhabitants. Rich in traditions and early exposed to the outside world, the Hoi An people feature a unique cultural identity, which has been well preserved from generation to generation. Lives of people who stay here incline to be interior with subtle quiet. In the mind of the natives of Hoi An, this town constitutes a large ancient home that shelters a big family of many descendants including hospitable dwellers, friendly hosts and hostesses, kind-hearted women, obedient children and so on. They together form a harmonious community who has lived peacefully side by side through successive generations.

Upon reaching Hoi An, visitors will immediately feel the hospitality and friendship the locals extend to them. One thing that has withstood the test of time, one thing that the Hoi An people today can be proud of and therefore, make every efforts to preserve is their popular ho (chants) and age-old cultural festivals. Among them, the "Nights of Hoi An" is held on the 14th night of every lunar month. Visitors can immerse themselves in a festive atmosphere imbued with the traditional identities of Hoi An

The architectural significance of Hoi An has been recognized by UNESCO, during the 23rd Congress which took place in Marrakech (Morocco) from the 29th of November to the 4th of December 1999, since the town was officially listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

In the ancient town: - Chua Cau (Japanese Bridge) - Old Houses: Quan Thang Old House (77 Tran Phu); Diep Dong Nguyen Old House (80 Nguyen Thai Hoc) Tan Ky Old House (101 Nguyen Thai Hoc); Phung Hung Old House (4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai); Tran Family Chapel (21 Le Loi) - Ancient Wells: Ba Le Well (Kiet Gieng Alley, Minh An Ward) - Assembly Halls: Quang Dong Assembly Hall (17 Tran Phu); Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall (46 Tran Phu); Trieu Chau Assembly Hall (157 Nguyen Duy Hieu); Hai Nam Assembly Hall (10 Tran Phu) - Museum of Trade Ceramics Hoi An (80 Tran Phu), Museum of Sa Huynh Culture (149 Tran Phu); Hoi An Museum of History and Culture (7 Nguyen Hue); (33 Nguyen Thai Hoc) - Ha Linh Lantern Manufacturer (72 Tran Nhan Tong); Huynh Van Ba Lantern Manufacturer (54 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai) - Cua Dai Beach; - Bay Mau Coconut Forest; - Cu Lao Cham; - Tra Que Vegetable Village; - Thanh Ha Pottery Village; - Kim Bong Carpentry Village; - Tombs of the Japanese traders

My Son Sanctuary

Geographical position

My Son Sanctuary is set in a small valley belonging to Duy Phu Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province, about 70km southwest of Danang City and 40km from Hoi An City. Of the 225 Cham vestiges that are founded in Viet Nam, My Son possesses 71 monuments and 32 epitaphs, the content of which is still being studied.

History

The Cham Kingdom had two sanctuaries belonging to two main opposing clans. My Son of the Dua Clan, ruled over the north of the kingdom and was the place for the worship of God Srisana Bhadresvara. The Cau Clan, who reigned over the south had Po Nagar Sanctuary, dedicated to Goddess Po Nagar. Nevertheless, My Son was considered as the sanctuary of the Cham Kingdom.

The first constructions date back to the 4th century under the reign of Bhadravarman for the worship of God Shiva-Bhadresvara. But later on, the temple was destroyed. At the beginning of the 7th century, King Sambhuvarman had it rebuilt and baptized Sambhu-Bhadresvara. Each new monarch came to My Son after his accession to the throne, for the ceremony of purification and to present offerings and erect new monuments, which explains why My Son is the only place where Cham art flourished without interruption from the 7th to the 13th century.

Architecture in My Son

The temples in My Son were built into groups that basically followed the same model. Each group was comprised of a main sanctuary (kalan), surrounded by towers and auxiliary monuments. The kalan, which is a symbol of Meru Mountain (centre of the universe, where the gods live) is dedicated to Shiva. The small temples are devoted to the spirits of the eight compass points. In the towers, topped with tiled, curved roofs, were stocked the offerings and sacred objects of the pilgrims. Cham temples do not have windows, so they are very dark inside. Windows are only found on the towers.

Cham towers and temples are built of bricks associated with sandstone decorations. It is quite noteworthy that no adhesive can be seen in between the bricks, which is amazing since some of the works have survived thousands of years. The structures were built, and only then did the sculptors carve the decorations of floral patterns, human figures or animals. This technique is unique in Asia.

Every kalan in My Son is comprised of three parts: the bhurloka (foundations), the bhurvaloka (body of the tower) and the svarloka (roof). The bhurloka represents the terrestrial world. It is decorated all the way round by engravings of patterns, animals, human characters praying under small vaults, masks of Kala or Makara (monsters), dancers, musicians…

The bhurvaloka symbolises the spiritual world where, after being purified, men could meet the ancestors and the gods. It is built with very thick bricks (about 1m thick), but its height can vary from one monument to the next. The outside is decorated with pilasters, false doors or windows.

The svarloka usually has three storeys in the same style as the base, and features a main door and other, false, ones. It is decorated with small sandstone or brick statues representing mythical animals, which are mounts ridden by gods in the Indian tradition: birds, swans, buffaloes, elephants or lions. There are small decorative towers at the corners of the 1st and 2nd storeys. This roof, made of sandstone or brick, can be either pyramidal or boat-shaped

Methods used to identify and categories the style of the My Son Sanctuary

My Son was rediscovered in 1885 by a group of French soldiers. In 1895, C. Paris, a French scholar, was the first one to clear the My Son Sanctuary. Then, many scientists came to My Son to study Cham epitaph, sculpture and architecture such as Henri Parmentier, C. Carpeaux, P. Stern…

Thanks to Henri Parmentier, the temples of My Son were classified into groups of letters (A, A’, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and K), and then numbered according to their functions. It starts with the main sanctuary, the kalan, (number 1), then the gate tower (number 2), and so on. Even though these categories break up the architectural complex of My Son as a whole, they are remarkably efficient for the study and maintenance of the ruins.

In December, 1999, at the 23th meeting of World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Marrakesh, Morocco, My Son was recognised as world cultural heritage based on two prominent criteria: criterion (ii) an exceptional example of cultural interchange, with an indigenous society adapting to external cultural influences, notably the Hindu art and architecture of the Indian sub-continent and criterion (iii) the Champa Kingdom was an important phenomenon in the political and cultural history of South – East Asia, vividly illustrated by the ruins of My Son.

The central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi

Geographical position

The central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi covers area of 18.395ha, includes archaeological area at 18 Hoang Dieu Street and relics in Ha Noi Citadel such as: Ha Noi Flag Tower, Doan Mon, Kinh Thien Palace, Building D67, Hau Lau, Bac Mon, Forbidden City wall and eight gates from the Nguyen Dynasty. These relics are located in Ba Dinh District and surrounded by Phan Dinh Phung Street in the north; Bac Son Street and National Assembly Building in the south; Hoang Dieu, Doc Lap streets and National Building in the west; Dien Bien Phu Street in the southwest and Nguyen Tri Phuong Street in the east.

History

In 1009, Ly Cong Uan was enthroned, founded Ly Dynasty. In July, 1010, the king promulgated Chieu Doi Do (the royal decree) to change the capital city from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Dai La Citadel. After transferring the capital city, Ly Cong Uan had Citadel of Thang Long built and the citadel construction was finished in early 1011.

The ancient Citadel of Thang Long was encircled by three incorporated forts. The outer fort was Kinh Thanh (Imperial City), where the general public lived. Surrounded by the Hong, To Lich and Kim Nguu rivers, Kinh Thanh acted as a dyke system for the capital city. The second fort (the middle ring) was Hoang Thanh (Imperial Citadel), where the royal court, offices and residence of mandarins were located. The smallest and most inner enclosure was Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden City) where the king, queens and concubines lived in seclusion. The Citadel of Thang Long was repaired and had many new works in Tran Dynasty and expanded in Le So Dynasty. From 1516 to 1788 in dynasties of Mac and Le Trung Hung, the Citadel of Thang Long was destroyed many times. In early 1789, King Quang Trung transferred the capital city to Phu Xuan, the Citadel of Thang Long only acted as Bac Thanh (the northern defensive fortification). In Nguyen Dynasty, the remainders of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long were transferred to Phu Xuan for building new citadel. Only Kinh Thien Palace and Hau Lau were retained to be accommodations for Kings Nguyen during their business trips to the Bac Thanh. In 1805, King Gia Long ordered the demolition of walls surrounding the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and requested the building of a new, smaller citadel called Ha Noi Citadel with architectural style of Vauban (France). In 1831, King Minh Mang changed name of the Citadel of Thang Long to Ha Noi Province in a big administrative reform. When French colonists occupied all Indochina, they chose Ha Noi as the capital of French Indochina Union and the Ha Noi Citadel was destroyed to build military camp for French colonists. Since the Vietnamese army took the control of the capital city in 1954, the Ha Noi Citadel has become the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense. The first value of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi shows that it is nearly a book displaying over 10 century- history of Thang Long – Ha Noi from Dai La Citadel in Pre-Thang Long period to nowadays.

Archaeological value

History revealed that Imperial Citadel of Thang Long changed a lot but its centre, especially Forbidden City, remained nearly unchanged. As architectural structures inside the Imperial Citadel were rebuilt and upgraded several times, this explained for the findings of layers of architectural vestiges and artefacts at archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu. These vestiges reflect clearly relation between urban project and architectural space as well as succession of dynasties in building the Citadel of Thang Long. This is the unique and prominent value of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi. Here, archaeologists excavated a great deal of porcelain and ceramic wares used in the Imperial Citadel through various stages of development. The findings paved the way for researchers to study ceramics made in Thang Long and ceramic wares used in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long through different dynasties. It is also concrete evidence about high development level of economy and culture. In addition, porcelains and bronze coins of China, Japan, Western Asia… found here proved that Thang Long was centre of cultural exchange among countries in area and received quintessence values of humanity.

At 20h30 on July 30, 2010 in Brasilia Capital of Brazil, World Heritage Committee of UNESCO recognized the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi as world cultural heritage based on three prominent criteria: historical and cultural length; its continuousness as a power centre; diversification and plenty of vestiges and artifacts. In opening ceremony of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Ha Noi on October 1, 2010, Ms Irina Bokova – General Director of UNESCO gave certification of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi to leaders of Ha Noi City.

TYPICAL TOURIST SITES

Archaeological Site at 18 Hoang Dieu Street

The Archaeological Site at 18 Hoang Dieu Street, to the west of the Kinh Thien Palace, was an integral part of the Forbidden City from the Ly Dynasty until the end of the restored Le Dynasty. The site covers an area of 47,720 m2, and is bounded to the north by Hoang Van Thu Street, to the south by Bac Son Street, to the east by Hoang Dieu Street, and to the west by Doc Lap Street (not including the area of the new National Assembly Building).

Ha Noi Flag Tower

Ha Noi Flag Tower was built in 1805 during the Nguyen Dynasty’s Vauban style reconstruction of the Ha Noi Citadel. The 33.4m-high tower is one of the few structures that survived the French period intact. The base of the tower is square in form and consists of three levels constructed of brick in the form of pyramid frusta, each level reducing in size. The sides of the first level are 42.5m long and 3.1m high and there are two brick staircases leading to a paved terrace. The sides of the second level are 27m long and 3.7m high. Each wall of this level is perforated by an arched door. Above three of which are stone Chinese inscriptions: “Nghenh Huc” (welcome the dawn light) at the eastern door, “Hoi Quang” (reflected light) at the western door and “Huong Minh” (facing the light) at the southern door. The sides of the third floor are 12.8m long and 5.1m high. A door in the northern wall leads to stairs ascending to the flag tower.

Doan Mon

Doan Mon is the main gate of the Forbidden City, directed toward the south because it’s the most important direction for ancient structures of Vietnamese. The gate was first built in the Ly Dynasty (11th century) but the existing structure dates from the early years of the Le Dynasty (15th century) with restorations carried out during the Nguyen Dynasty (19th century). Doan Mon, together with an area behind it formerly known as Long Tri (Dragon Courtyard), played a very important role in the ceremonies of the Royal Citadel such as the ceremony for national loyalty Oath (1128); Nhan Vuong Festival, Quang Chieu Colored Lantern Festival (1136); the parade of imperial guards (1351) and ceremonies for the mandarin examinations (1457, 1466, 1481, 1496…).

Kinh Thien Palace

Kinh Thien Palace was the centre of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Le Dynasty and Ha Noi Citadel in Nguyen Dynasty. The palace was built in 1428 by King Le Thai To and it was considered as “one of the masterpieces of An Nam architecture”. In 1886, the French colonists destroyed Kinh Thien Palace, except two sets of stone dragon steps.

Building D67

Building D67 was the General Headquarters of the North Vietnamese Armed Forces during resistance war against American imperialists. Building D67 was erected, as its name suggests, in 1967 in the back of Dragon House with the length of 43.02m, width of 20.85m, height of 7.89m. From the outside, it appears much like an ordinary single storey house with a flat roof, but the details of its construction betray its military importance. A layer of sand on the roof protected the building from shrapnel penetration. The walls are 0.6m thick and soundproofed. There are two entrance doors, the outside one made of 1cm-thick steel.

Hau Lau

Located in Hoang Dieu Street, Hau Lau has mixed architecture of the Eastern and Western styles. Hau Lau is built in the north (the rear) of Kinh Thien Palace for peace according to phong thuy (feng shui) principles. Therefore, it’s called Tinh Bac Lau or the Rear Palace. Hau Lau is also known as the Princess’ building because it was accommodation of ladies in waiting and concubines for Nguyen kings during their trip to Ha Noi Citadel. At the end of the 19th century, Hau Lau was seriously damaged due to war and reconstructed by French as military post of French army.

Bac Mon

Bac Mon (Northern Gate) is the last remains of five gates of Ha Noi Citadel under the Nguyen Dynasty. Built of brick in 1805 on the foundation of Northern Gate under the Le Dynasty, Bac Mon is 8.71m high and 17.08m width. Above the arched door of Bac Mon is a stone tablet with three Chinese words “Chinh Bac Mon” and decorative liana figures carved in it.

The Forbidden City wall and eight gates from the Nguyen Dynasty

The wall surrounded Kinh Thien Palace was build of vo brick. It has eight gates, of which two gates are located in the both sides of Doan Mon in the south, two gates in the back of Hau Lau in the north, one gate faces Nguyen Tri Phuong Street in the east, one gate faces Hoang Dieu Street in the west and two gates in the both sides of Kinh Thien Palace foundation.

The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty

The citadel of the Ho Dynasty is situated in communes of Vinh Tien, Vinh Long, Vinh Quang, Vinh Yen, Vinh Phuc, Vinh Ninh, Vinh Khang, Vinh Thanh and Vinh Loc Town (Vinh Loc District), Thanh Hoa Province. It was the capital of Viet Nam from 1398 to 1407.

The citadel of the Ho Dynasty was built in 1397 by Ho Quy Ly who was the highest-ranking mandarin of the Tran Dynasty at the time. After the citadel was completed, Ho Quy Ly forced King Tran Thuan Tong to move the capital from the citadel of Thang Long (Ha Noi) to Thanh Hoa. In the second month of the year of Dragon (1400), after coming to the crown to replace the King Tran, Ho Quy Ly renamed the country Dai Ngu (1400-1407), the citadel of the Ho Dynasty officially became the capital citadel. The citadel of the Ho Dynasty is also known as names of An Ton, Tay Do, Tay Kinh, Tay Nhai,Tay Giai.

The citadel of the Ho Dynasty is considered as the only stone citadel remaining in Southeast Asia and is one of the few remains in the world.

The citadel of the Ho Dynasty has met the two criteria specified in the World Heritage Convention. It is the criterion (ii), "to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design," and the criterion (iv), "to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history."

The citadel has recognized as a World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO at the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee on June 27th 2011 in Paris (France).

In the world heritage record, the citadel of the Ho Dynasty is briefly described as follows:

The citadel of the Ho Dynasty, built according to the feng shui principles, testifies to the flowering of neo-Confucianism in late 14th century in Viet Nam and its spread to other parts of East Asia. According to these principles, it was sited in a landscape of great scenic beauty on an axis joining the Tuong Son and Don Son mountains in a plain between the Ma and Buoi rivers. In terms of architectural history, the citadel of the Ho Dynasty plays an important place in the planning and building of urban areas in Viet Nam. It shows the uniqueness in the construction of a citadel in general and a stone citadel in particular, and a breakthrough in Viet Nam’s tradition of building citadel. Thanks to the unique construction techniques all the major stone sections are intact and have not been affected by time and weather or by recent urban encroachment. The citadel of the Ho Dynasty is an architectural masterpiece of the 14th century with impressive architecture of the walls and other parts. The citadel buildings represent an outstanding example of a new style of Southeast Asian imperial city with a combination between the Vietnamese architecture and the unique building techniques of Viet Nam, Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia.

According to historical documents, ancient bibliographies and archaeological research, the complex of the citadel of the Ho Dynasty includes Thanh Noi (Inner Citadel and also known as Imperial Citadel) with the remains of the royal palaces and temples inside; Hao Thanh; La Thanh and Nam Giao Altar (for worshipping the Heaven).

The Thanh Noi is a unique architectural work, with a circumference of 3,508, an area of 142.2ha; the wall is 870.5m long from north to south; 883.5m long from east to west. The Thanh Noi has four main gates made of green square stone plates beautifully carved and overlapped tightly one after another. On the average, each stone plate is 1.5m long, 1m thick and weighs about 15-20 tonnes. The citadel is fairly square with about 877m long north and south sides, 879.3m long east side and 880m long west side. Its four domed gates are called the Southern, Northern, Western and Eastern gates (or also known as the Front, Back, Left and Right gates). The stone plates on the dome are carved as sections of a grapefruit, tightly overlapping. The Front gate in the south is the main gate and has three doors. The middle door is 5.82m wide and 5.75m high. The side doors are 5.45m wide and 5.35m high. Each of three remaining gates has only one door, of which the Northern Gate is 5.8m wide; the Eastern Gate is 5.9m wide; 5.4m high; and the Western Gate is 5.8m wide, 5.4m high. The wall of the citadel is 5-6m high on average. The highest wall section is the front gate with the height of 10m. Scientists estimated that the entire wall was made of 25,000m³ of stones. Inside the stone wall was another wall made of approximately 80,000m³ of soil.

According to the documents, there were palaces in the Thanh Noi such as Hoang Nguyen, Nhan Tho, Phu Cuc, Dong Cung, Dong Thai Mieu, Tay Thai Mieu, Diem Canh… However, now the Thanh Noi remains some relics such as a part of the citadel’s wall and four gates, vestiges of lakes, a couple of stone dragons with sophisticated carving features, foundation of Thanh Noi architecture, Hoa Nhai marble-paved road, stone balls, stone bullets, pottery, the Southern gate precinct and valuable objects with specific characteristics of Tran - Ho dynasties culture.

Called Hao Thanh, the system of water trench surrounded the Thanh Noi and connected with Buoi River through a canal at the southeast corner of the citadel. The Hao Thanh had four stone bridges over to the Thanh Noi at the four gates. Nowadays, many parts of the Hao Thanh have been filled and dried. However, the traces of the Hao Thanh still can be seen very clearly in the north, east and south of the citadel.

The La Thanh, the outer wall of the citadel built to protect the Thanh Noi was home to residents in the citadel. The La Thanh was approximately 10km in perimeter and its construction based on the natural terrain. The Ho Dynasty built the La Thanh by banking up and making bamboo hedge to connect the mountains of Don Son (Vinh Thanh Commune), Hac Khuyen (Vinh Long Commune), Xuan Dai, Trac Phong, Tien Sy (Vinh Ninh Commune), Kim Ngo (Vinh Tien Commune), Kim Nguu, Tuong Son (Vinh Quang Commune) with two rivers of Buoi and Ma. Now, the trace of La Thanh in Beo Village (Vinh Long Commune) with a length of 2,051.9m, a height of about 5m, trapezoid section of 9.2m, and the base of the citadel of 37m has been localized for protection

The Nam Giao Altar, an importance royal architectural work, was built in 1402 in the southwest of Don Son Mountain, on the spiritual pathway directly connected with the Southern gate, about 2.5 km away from the citadel of the Ho Dynasty to the southeast. The Nam Giao Altar has an area of 43,000m². Currently, the altar appears 5 grounds with 5 terraces. There is a difference of 7.80 meters between the highest and the lowest. The Nam Giao Altar is the place to sacrifice to the heaven; pray for harmonious rain and wind, peaceful country and happy people, prosperous and everlasting dynasty. In addition, the altar is also the place to sacrifice to the soul of dead kings, stars and many other genies. Nam Giao ceremony is considered as a royal ritual. The first Nam Giao ceremony of the Ho Dynasty was held in the same year of constructing the altar.

At the citadel of the Ho Dynasty, apart from construction of the Nam Giao Altar and performance of Nam Giao ceremony in 1402, the Ho Dynasty had left historical marks such as establishing Xa Tac Altar (altar of the Earth Genie and the Shennong - the Divine Farmer) in 1397, organizing two state exams in 1400 and 1405. In addition, the Ho Dynasty had been associated with remarkable innovations, such as reforming examination, building more schools, heightening the Nom scripts and issuing paper-money.

SURROUNDINGS:

  • Binh Khuong Temple
  • Ancient house
  • My Dam Lake
  • Giang Pagoda
  • Du Anh Pagoda and Ho Cong Cavern
  • Ong Mon Communal House
  • NangTran Khat Chan Temple

Mixed Heritage Site

Geological and geomorphological value

Trang An displays the end stages of karst tower landscape evolution in a humid tropical environment. The product of deep dissection of an uplifted limestone massif over a period of millions years is a remarkable array of classical karst landforms, including cones and towers, depressions (cockpits), valleys (poljes), rockfall collapse structures and deposits, subterranean caverns and rivers, caves and speleothems. A network of cross-cutting parallel faults divides the area into cells and promotes the development of enclosed depressions. An altitudinal series of erosional notches in rock walls with associated caves, wave-cut platforms, beach deposits and marine shells is evidence of former stands of sea level.

On 23 June 2014, in Doha (Qatar), World Heritage Committee of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized officially Trang An Landscape Complex as World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site based on three criteria: culture, aestheticism and geology – geomorphology.

Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel Cultural – Historical Area

King Dinh Temple, King Le Temple, Co Am Pagoda, Kim Ngan Pagoda, Duyen Ninh Pagoda, Nhat Tru Pagoda, Thien Ton Grotto…

Trang An Scenic Area

Trinh Temple, Tran Temple, Tu Tru Temple, Dia Linh Cave, Sinh Duoc Cave, May Cave, Nau Ruou Cave, Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex…

Tam Coc – Bich Dong Scenic Area

Bich Dong Pagoda, Linh Coc Pagoda, Thai Vi Temple, Thien Huong Grotto, Tien Grotto, Thien Ha Grotto, But Cave, Mua Cave, Ca Cave, Thung Nham, Thung Nang, Co Vien Lau Ancient Village…

INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE FORMS

Nha nhac, Vietnamese Court Music

In its ordinary meaning, Court Music is understood as music genres, including music for dance and opera, used in worshiping ceremonies, national court – organized festivities, and occasions of entertainment for Kings and Royal families. But the term Nha Nhac (imported from China) was used by Vietnamese feudal dynasties from the Ho Dynasty with different meanings, for example sometimes indicating general court music, sometimes court ritual music in particular, sometimes indicating music department, even a concrete orchestra.

The initial foundation of Nha Nhac – the Vietnamese Court Music began conceiving since the 13th century but it only reached the peak at the Hue Court under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The Court Music was officially formed along with the rise of Nguyen Dynasty in the early 19th century. In about 1947, 1948, Madame Tu Cung (mother of King Bao Dai, wife of King Khai Dinh) gathered once again some court music artists, helping to maintain some genres of Hue Court Music and dance. In the 1980s, it began to attract attention of the Ministry of Culture and local authorities. In the 1990s, Hue Court Music enjoyed renaissance. Thereafter Hue Court Music has been introduced much abroad.

The different genres of the Hue Court Music include worshiping ritual music, court ritual music, court dances, chamber music and opera (royal classical opera - tuong).

In the former times, Hue Court Music consisted of various genres: Giao Nhac used in the sacrifice ceremony to the Heaven and the Earth. Mieu Nhac used in worshipping ceremonies at the temples of meritorious ancestors of the Nguyen clan, Confucius, Nguyen Dynasty's literature doctors, national heroes; Ngu Tu Nhac used in Than Nong, Thanh Hoang, Xa Tac worshiping ceremonies; Dai Trieu Nhac used in great ceremonies or receptions of foreign ambassadors; Thuong Trieu Nhac used in ordinary court ceremonies; Yen Nhac used in great royal banquets; Cung Nhac (or Cung Trung Nhac) used inside the royal palaces.

Former Hue court dances were rich and performed on many occasions. The 11 court dances remained until now are composed of Bat Dat (used in Giao, Mieu, Xa Tac, historical kings and Confucius worshipping ceremonies); Luc cung, Tam tinh, Bat tien, Dau Chien thang Phat, Tu Linh, Tam quoc Tay Du (used in van tho - King’s birthday, thanh tho - birthday of King’s mother, tien tho - birthday of Hoang Thai Phi (the imperial concubine of King’s late father) and the Mu (a Fairy or Guardian angel) worshipping ceremonies); and thien xuan (birthday of the prince – the successor to the throne); Trinh tuong tap khanh (used in tu, ngu tuan dai khanh ceremonies for wealthy people and powerful country; Nu tuong xuat quan (used on the Days of Victory, Nguyen Dynasty Enthroning Day, lunar - calendar May 2nd, at great night banquets and receptions of foreign ambassadors); Vu phien (devoted to the King's Mother, wife, ladies-in-waiting, princesses at weddings); Luc triet hoa ma dang (on Nguyen Dynasty Enthroning Day for the watching of the people masses in the front of Phu Van Lau).

The repertoire for court music genres mentioned above consisted of a variety musical pieces. Yet, in the declining stages, many of them were lost; only the words have been remained. The pieces still preserved are Muoi ban ngu ( or lien bo thap chuong - suite composed of 10 pieces including: Pham tuyet, Nguyen tieu, Ho quang, Lien hoan, Binh ban, Tay mai, Kim tien, Xuan phong, Long ho, Tau ma), Long dang, Long ngam, Phu luc, Tieu khuc, Tam luan cuu chuyen - ritual music asking for good rains, Dang dan cung, Dang dan don, Dang dan kep, Thai binh co nhac, Bong, Ma vu, Man and some other pieces of chamber music such as Nam Binh and Nam Ai, etc.

Nguyen Dynasty court orchestras were divers in type and number of instruments, depending on the kind of royal rituals and entertainment. There were many kinds of orchestra for example Nha nhac, Huyen nhac, Ti truc te nhac, Tieu nhac, Dai nhac, Co xuy dai nhac, Nhac Thieu, Bat am, Ty chung, Ty khanh, Ty co, etc.

Hue Court Music succeeded and enhanced the achievements of Thang Long Court Music – formed many centuries ago - to a new height. This succession and enhancement are shown in: Maintaining some court orchestras of the previous dynasties (the most distinctive of which are Tran Dynasty's Tieu nhac and Dai nhac) and creating rich variations based on Le Dynasty ‘s orchestras; The continuing use of many common musical instruments of Thang Long Royal Music; Maintaining and diversifying some previous court dances, at the same time creating many new dances; Creating a new type of chamber music (don ca Hue) and enhancing Vietnamese instrumental music to a new height both in performance techniques and forms of ensemble; Succeeding the Dang ngoai "tuong" and bringing it to flourish simultaneously forming a new specific kind of tuong: the "tuong Kinh" (tuong of the capital city) in the style of "tuong van"; Succeeding the system of tone regulations of the Hong Duc time under Le Dynasty in the second half of the 15th century and developing music language and theory; Continuing the traditions of learning, adopting and Vietnamising foreign music elements that were shaped in Vietnamese music in general and in Thang Long Court Music in particular…

The special traits of Hue Court Music is the process of integrating, adopting and modifying Chinese, Champa cultures and Buddhist, Confucian impacts. Court Music is closely connected with "tuong" (hat boi) art. Hue Court Music synthetizes itself the abundance and diversity in many aspects including the art-type aspect, the genre aspect, types of instrument and timbre, in repertoires, in kinds of orchestra organization and ensemble forms, the performance environment and melody… So Hue Court Music could satisfy both the spectators’ audition and vision by its abundance "dishes of different tastes".

The Hue Court Music has large scale and highly professional: As the official music of the state, it consists of many large scale orchestras, many music and dance items were performed by a big staff of instrumentalists, singers and dancers. Moreover, this is the music genre that has high degree of improvisation and variation of the melodious scheme.

Hue Court Music is the last vestige of Vietnamese Court Music. It contains all quintessence of Vietnamese Court Music trend that has been established and developed over 1,000 years, therefore Hue Court Music is identical with Vietnamese Court Music.

At the official meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Paris, Nha nhac, Vietnamese Court Music, that Hue has preserved so long, was officially listed by UNESCO among masterpieces of the Oral and intangible heritage of humanity on 7th November 2003. This is the first intangible heritage of Viet Nam ever listed in this list, recognized the achievements of 10-year process of striving, tireless preparation of the central, local governments and the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre.

The Space of Gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands of Viet Nam covers 5 provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong. The masters of gong culture are the ethnic groups of Ba Na, Xo Dang, M’Nong, Co Ho, Ro Mam, E De, Gia Rai… The gong performances are always closely tied to community cultural rituals and ceremonies of the ethnic groups in Central Highlands. Many researchers have classified gongs as ceremonial musical instrument and the gong sounds as a means to communicate with deities and gods.

The gongs are made of brass alloy or a mixture of brass and gold, silver, bronze. Their diameter is from 20cm to 60cm or from 90cm to 120cm. A set of gongs consists of 2 to 12 or 13 units and even to 18 or 20 units in some places.

In most of ethnic groups, namely Gia Rai, Ede Kpah, Ba Na, Xo Dang, Brau, Co Ho, etc., only males are allowed to play gongs. However, in others such as Ma and M’Nong groups, both males and females can play gongs. Few ethnic groups (for example, E De Bih), gongs are performed by women only.

As for the majority of ethnic groups in Central Highlands, gongs are musical instruments of sacred power. It is believed that every gong is the settlement of a god who gets more powerful as the gong is older. "God of gong" is always considered as the tutelary deity for the community’s life. Therefore, gongs are associated to all rites in one’s life, such as the inauguration of new houses, funerals, buffalo sacrifice, crop praying rite, new harvest, ceremony to pray for people’s and cattle’s health, ceremony to see-off soldiers to the front, and the victory celebration.

In Central Highlands, gongs are often performed in the form of orchestra. Gong orchestras adopt a natural sound-scale as the foundation for theirs. Depending on different ethnic groups, a gong orchestra can consist of 3, 5 or 6 primary sounds. However, as a polyphonic musical instrument, gongs often have some additional sounds apart from their basic ones. In fact, a six-gong orchestra can produce more or less 12 different sounds. So, gong sounds are heard resonant and solid. Moreover, a gong orchestra is arranged in a broad space, so the melody is formed by three-dimensional sounds with different pitch, length and resonance. It is the stereophonic effect - an original phenomenon of gong performance.

The space of gong culture in Central Highlands are heritage with temporal and spatial imprints. Through its categories, sound-amplifying method, sound scale and gamut, tunes and performance art, we will have an insight in a complicated art developing from simple to complexity, from single to multi-channel. It contains different historical layers of the development of music since the primitive period. All artistic values have the relationships of similarities and dissimilarities, bringing about their regional identities. With its diversity and originality, it’s possible to confirm that gongs hold a special status in Viet Nam’s traditional music.

On November 25, 2005 in Paris, France, the space of gong culture in Central Highlands was recognized by UNESCO as an oral-transmitted masterpiece and intangible cultural heritage of the humanity

Ca Tru Singing

Ca Tru has many names, depending on each locality, each period of time, it is also called A dao singing, Cua dinh singing, Cua quyen singing, Co dau singing, Nha to singing, Nha tro singing and Ca cong singing. This is a long-standing and unique form of art which has special meaning in the musical treasures of Viet Nam, associated with the traditional festivals, customs, religions, literature, music, thoughts and philosophy of the Vietnamese.

The Ca Tru singing was assessed in the heritage records as follows:

Ca Tru, which dates back to the 15th century, was performed attach in a cultural diversity space during different historical periods. Ca Tru showed a sense of identity and continuity in the art performances, being innovative and transmitted between generations by professional music guilds known as Giao phuong. These guilds have maintained the close relationship communities, forming characteristics of Ca Tru. Although undergone many social and historical changes, Ca Tru has still kept distinct vitality due to its art value in the Vietnamese culture.

Ca Tru is unique with its private art performing space, musical instruments and distinct style of poetry. According to folk artists, Ca Tru has 56 different musical forms or melodies, each of which is called the cach. The singing technique is very sophisticated. The singers have to practice in very painstaking and meticulous manner. Streamlined instruments with timbres in contrast have elevated the beauty of each performing participant.

Ca Tru performing is involved by at least three people:

- A female singer (called “dao” or “ca nuong”) both singing and playing the phach (which is made of bamboo or wood. It is struck with two hard wooden beaters, one of which is split into two so it creates a different slightly higher pitched sound.)

- A male instrumentalist (called “kep”) playing the dan day three-stringed lute (which has 3 strings and 10 frets.)

- And a person beating the trong chau or “praise drum” (called “quan vien” - a musician from the group of Ca Tru singer and instrumentalist or sometimes is the composer of the lyrics.) The praise drummer is a connoisseur of Ca Tru. The rhythms the drummer plays mark the end and beginning of different sections and phrases of music and he also uses particular drumming patterns to show his appreciation of the music and the performers.

The “dao” sits in the middle of performing mat. The “kep” and “quan vien” sit near by in two sides. Ca Tru performing space is quite small and the participation from the audiences is very essential.

Ca Tru singing is an art form of sung poetry with a rich collection of songs reserved for each functions as Hat tho (worship singing), Hat thi (competitive singing), Hat choi (singing for entertainment). Lyrics of Ca Tru songs have scholarly nature, much meaning with few words, rich in poetry with lots of thoughtful and profound emotions. Ca Tru which consists of all genres from lyric and romantic songs to epic, philosophic, teaching ones…, has attracted the participation of many scholars and poets in experience their talents and compose poems for Ca Tru. One cannot see all the beauty and value of this performance art without understand thoroughly the content and art of words in the songs as well as the precise expression of female singers in their emotions and feelings together with voice and music.

According to the researchers, by mid-2009, there were 63 clubs with about 769 people (including 513 dao and 256 kep and trong chau player) in 14 provinces and cities (Ha Noi, Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Hai Phong, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Ho Chi Minh City) throughout the country have frequently carried out activities and establish plans for research, documentation, collection, preservation, performance and transmission of Ca Tru. However, the numbers of folk artists who can sing from 10 tunes or more are very rare. At the Vietnamese Institute for Musicology, 7 dances and 42 songs of Ca Tru have been stored. There are 26 files written in Han Nom scripts on Ca Tru and about 25 books on Ca Tru.

Ca Tru has been recognized as major contributors to the culture of Viet Nam. From Ca Tru, a unique poetry was born and became a brilliant position in the Nom scripts literature of the nation. That is Hat noi (recital melody) style which has been popular for centuries. In addition, phach and dan day three-stringed lute has become specific instruments of Ca Tru, contributing to make Ca Tru become a classic vocal music genre of Viet Nam. With the rich of history, the depth of art and the distinct national character, Ca Tru has confirmed its important role not only in Viet Nam but also all over the world.

With consensus, voluntary and full understanding of Ca tru singing community, along with action plans, responsibilities, commitments, supports and assistances of authorities at all levels of the state, Ca tru has been safeguarded to ensure its vitality. And with the preeminent features, after four years of waiting, since the Government decided to submit to UNESCO for its consideration, Ca tru singing has been inscribed on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding on October 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Quan ho Bac Ninh Folk Songs

Quan ho Bac Ninh is folk songs of the Red River Delta, concentrates mainly in Kinh Bac region (provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang). This is a kind of art composed by the elements of music, lyric, costume, festival… Quan ho Bac Ninh folk songs show close-knit relation between male singers (lien anh) and female singers (lien chi) and are typical culture of Kinh Bac region’s people.

Quan ho folk songs passed from generation to generation through oral have the most melodies in Viet Nam’s folk-song genres. Quan ho folk songs are always performed voluntarily in groups of male (bon nam) or female (bon nu). Each group usually has four to six people who are named by order such as “Second Sister”, “Third Sister”, “Fourth Sister”, or “Second Brother”, “Third Brother”, “Fourth Brother” and so on. If the size of a group reaches seven or eight people, then they are divided into “older siblings” and “younger siblings” named as the “Third Older Sister”, “Third Younger Sister” or “Third Older Brother”, “Third Younger Brother”...

Quan ho folk songs are alternating response songs between the groups of male and female. A group of female from one village sings with a group of male from another village with similar melodies, but different lyrics, and always with alternating tunes. In each group, one person sings the leading tune and another sings a secondary part, but the two should be in perfect harmony at the same timbre. Quan ho folk songs have 213 different melody variations and more than 400 song lyrics. A song lyric includes two parts: the principal text is the core of the song, containing its base lyrics. The lyrics of Quan ho folk songs derived from poems and folk verses of the Viet Nam, mostly 6 syllable and 8 syllable verses, modified 6 syllable and 8 syllable verses, 4 syllable or mixed 4 syllable verses express people’s emotional states in metaphorical language. The secondary text includes words that are added to the melodies, such as i hi, u hu, a ha...

Quan ho folk songs exist in a cultural environment with their own social customs. The first is friendship custom among Quan ho villages. From the friendship custom, a special social custom appears among Quan ho groups. It’s friend-making custom. Each Quan ho group from one village makes friends with another group from another village following the principle that male groups make friends with female groups and vice versa. With the friendship-partner villages, men and women in Quan ho groups from these villages are not allowed to marry each other.

One particular characteristic of Quan ho singing is the teaching and dissemination through “sleepover” custom. Boys and girls from 9 to 16 or 17 years old, invite each other to sleep over in their host’s house to learn Quan ho singing techniques. Male and female singers combine and practice their voices in pairs in order to have a unified timbre for performance.

Quan ho gastronomy uses phoenix wing-shaped quid of betel and areca, Thai Nguyen tea. In meal, it must use red tray (mam son) which is made of timber and painted red to express host’s emotion to visitors. Dishes in the meal depend on each village’s custom but must include a plate of chicken, two plates of lean pork paste, lean pork; especially no fat dishes to avoid damaging voice.

In performance, the outfits of Quan ho are distinctive. The female costume includes non thung quai thao (the large round Quan ho hat) and scarf for wrapping the hair, camisole, tunic, skirt, scarves tied about the waist and slippers. The male costume includes turban, umbrella, shirt or robe including undershirts and long tunics with five pieces, trousers and slippers.

At 16h55 on September 30, 2009 in Abu Dhabi Capital of United Arab Emirates, UNESCO recognized Quan ho Bac Ninh folk songs as intangible cultural heritage of humanity for its cultural value, social custom preservation, performing arts, style of contact, lyric and costume. The recognized region includes 49 traditional Quan ho villages. 44 of these villages now lie in Bac Ninh Province: Bai Uyen, Due Dong, Ha Giang, Hoai Thi, Hoai Trung, Lung Giang, Lung Son, Ngang Noi, Van Kham, Tam Son, Tieu, Dong Mai, Dong Yen, Bo Son, Cham Khe, Co Me, Duong O, Dau Han, Dieu Thon, Dong Xa, Do Xa, Hoa Dinh, Huu Chap, Kha Le, Khuc Toai, Nem Doai, Nem Son, Nem Tien, Niem Xa, Phuc Son, Thanh Son, Thi Chung, Thi Cau, Tho Ninh, Thuong Dong, Tra Xuyen, Ve An, Viem Xa, Xuan Ai, Xuan Dong, Xuân O, Xuan Vien, Y Na, Yen Man. The remaining 5 traditional villages are located in Bac Giang Province: Gia Son, Huu Nghi, Noi Ninh, Mai Vu, and Sen Ho.

The Giong Festival is a traditional festival in commemoration and praise of the mythical hero Saint Giong, one of four immortals of Vietnamese folk beliefs.

The festival vividly imitates the evolution of fights of Saint Giong and Van Lang people under the 6th King Hung reign in combating against the foreign enemies, thereby raising the public awareness about the forms of ancient tribe war and educating the patriotism, martial art traditions, indomitable will, and independence and freedom desire of the nation. The Giong Festival is held in many locations throughout the northern part of Viet Nam, however the most typical ones are the Giong Festival at Phu Dong and Soc temples (Ha Noi).

Giong Festival at Phu Dong and Soc Temples

Giong Festival at Soc Temple (Phu Linh Commune, Soc Son District, Ha Noi) is held annually from the sixth to the eighth days of the first lunar month. According to the legend, after defeating the foreign invaders, Soc Mountain in Phu Linh is the last stopover of the saint before flying to heaven. There are many traditional rituals during the festival such as procession ceremony, incense offering ceremony, the ritual of bathing saint’s statue and bamboo flowers offering ceremony to the Thuong (Upper) Temple where is dedicated to the Saint Giong.

To prepare for the festival, at the fifth day night, people from eight villages of six communes in Soc Son District have carefully prepared offerings to the saint. On the sixth day - the opening festival day - villagers and pilgrims make incense offering to the Saint Giong Monument on Mount Da Chong. And at midnight of the same day, there is the bathing ritual of Saint Giong’s statue.

On the main festival day, the seventh day which was the saint’s ascending to heaven day according to the legend, there is a procession of bamboo flowers to the Thuong Temple as offerings to the saint. The bamboo flowers are made of a bamboo pieces that are sharpened into flowers and dyed with various colors. The worshipped saint embodies the aspiration for a peaceful country, harmonious rain and wind, and abundant harvest.

During the festival, there are other traditional games such as Chinese chess, human chess, cock fighting... and art performances of villagers as traditional opera (cheo), love duet (quan ho).

Giong Festival at Phu Dong Temple

The Giong Festival at the Phu Dong Temple is held annually from the sixth to the twelfth days of the fourth lunar month in the village of Saint Giong’s birth in Phu Dong Commune, Gia Lam District, Ha Noi.

From the sixth to eighth days, there are ceremonies of carrying flags to Mau (Mother) Temple where is dedicated to the Saint Giong’s mother and carrying offerings of boiled rice and salted egg-plants to Thuong (Upper) Temple where is dedicated to the Saint Giong.

The main day of the festival is the ninth of the fourth lunar month. On this day flags are carried from the Mau Temple to the Thuong Temple to sacrifice to the saint. In addition, fighting against the Yin invaders is re-enacted. The battle is elaborately arranged with the roles of Masters (Ong Hieu) such as the Flag Master, the Drum Master, the Gong Master, the Army Master, and the Children Master – the generals of Saint Giong troop which are played by young men and 28 girls play the enemy generals.

On the tenth day, there are ceremonies of inspecting battlefield and giving offerings to the Saint Giong. On the eleventh day, the ceremony of cleaning and washing weapons with holy water takes place. On the twelfth day, a flag procession goes to announce the victorious news to heaven and earth. There are also ceremony of giving a feast to the troop and cheo performances celebrating the victory.

The Giong Festival of Phu Dong and Soc temples recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Global outstanding value of the Giong Festival is represented as a cultural phenomenon which is preserved and handed down constantly and integrally over many generations. The festival also serves as a community link and contains many creative ideas, expressing the desire for national peace and family prosperity.

The Giong Festival satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

- R1: The Giong Festival is deeply rooted in the communities of the Red River Delta as part of their identity, transmitted from generation to generation and providing them a sense of continuity; - R2: Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to promoting human creativity and dialogue between cultures, while providing visibility to intangible cultural heritage; - R3: Diverse and coherent safeguarding measures have been proposed aiming to preserve, document, transmit, recognize and promote the continuity of the Giong Festival, benefiting from the commitment of the communities and the State; - R4: The bearer and practitioner communities were consulted and provided information for the nomination, as well as their free, prior and informed consent; - R5: The Giong Festival is inscribed in an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of Viet Nam, maintained by the Viet Nam Institute of Culture and Art Studies.

The Giong Festival of Phu Dong and Soc temples has officially been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by the UNESCO since November 2010. UNESCO has shortly and fully recorded of the Giong Festival as "a Viet Nam culture museum that keeps many alluvial layers of culture and beliefs."

Xoan Singing in Phu Tho Province

Xoan singing or hat cua dinh (singing at the communal house) is a kind of performing art relating to worshipping gods. In the past, Van Lang people held Xoan singing performance in the spring to welcome the New Year. There are three forms of Xoan singing as the worship singing to commemorate Hung Kings and village guardian gods; the ritual singing to pray for good crops, good health; and the festive singing – a form of love duet.

Xoan singing has existed for more than 2,000 years since Hung Kings dynasty. So all old Xoan songs originated from ancient villages in the center of Van Lang nation (now Phu Tho Province), after spread out the villages in the two banks of Lo and Hong rivers. Four old Xoan guilds are An Thai, Phu Duc, Kim Doi and Thet in two communes of Kim Duc and Phuong Lau (Viet Tri City, Phu Tho Province).

The Xoan guilds perform Xoan singing at the village’s communal house according to phrases as follows:

Firstly, the worship singing to commemorate Hung Kings, village guardian gods, the people who had merit for the country and families’ ancestors through the repertoires of Giao trong and Tho nhang…

Secondly, the ritual singing (with 14 different melodies) to express admiration of nature, human beings, and communities’ life, and some repertoires about history such as Trang Mai cach and Hoi lien cach…

Finally, the festive singing is alternate singing between singers and instrumentalists. The audience could take part in singing together with Xoan guilds to express love and dreams about happiness through melodies of Mo ca (groping for fishes), Xin hue (asking for flowers), Bo bo…

Most Xoan songs were composed by common people following poetry styles such as seven-seven-six-eight-word-meter verse, seven-beat-meter verse, six-eight-word-meter verse, the variants of six-eight-word-meter verse, four-word verse, and six-word verse. Xoan music has a simple structure with few ornamental notes. It often uses three-note scale and four-note scale with simple rhythm.

Xoan guilds are the places where folk artists keep their close relationship, creating the specific feature of Xoan singing. Xoan guilds often gather and perform in the spring festivals. After the festivals, the practitioners of Xoan guilds return to work as everyone in the community. Each Xoan guild has 15 – 18 members, of which one leader is referred to as Trum, male practitioners are called Kep (instrumentalists) while female practitioners are called Dao (singers)… The leader is an expert in art and mastered in all customs of Xoan singing. He is also responsible for organizing and training instrumentalists and singers. Knowledge on practice, custom and regulations of taboo, and techniques for singing, playing drum and clappers and dancing of Xoan singing were always transmitted orally from this person to another in the community.

On November 24th 2011, at the 6th meeting of the Inter-governmental Committee for the Conservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO held in Bali, Indonesia, Xoan singing in Phu Tho was officially recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. It meets necessary requirements as unique lyrics, melodies and tunes; combining elements of culture, history and art; containing many cultural values; and having been preserved through many centuries.

Xoan singing is usually performed on the occasions

One after another the Xoan guilds of Phu Tho Province temples since the first day of the New Year. In the morning of Lunar New Year's days, the Xoan guild of which village sings in that village, in the evening, all Xoan guilds come together to sing in turn at the communal houses and temples as follows: on the first day of the Lunar New Year, singing at the Ca Communal House and Cam Temple in An Thai Village (Phuong Lau Commune, Viet Tri City); on the second day, singing at Doi Communal House in Kim Doi Village; on the third day, singing at Lai Len Temple in Phu Duc Village; on the fourth day, singing at Thet Communal House in Thet Village (Kim Duc Commune, Viet Tri City). On the fifth day, often singing at the Hung Temple (Hy Cuong Commune, Viet Tri City), the singing time is prescribed at a location.

The worship of Hung Kings in Phu Tho Province

The worship of Hung Kings originates from Hung Kings dynasty in the belief that all Vietnamese people have the same origin “Dragon’s children and Fairy’s grand-children”; and also expresses Vietnamese philosophy “When drinking water, remember the source” and the spirit of great national unity.

According to legend, Lac Long Quan – son of Kinh Duong Vuong Loc Tuc got married with Au Co – daughter of King De Lai and gave birth to 100 sons. After that, 50 sons followed Au Co and 50 others followed Lac Long Quan to settle. The first son followed his mother to arrived in Phong Chau Land (now Phu Tho Province) and established Van Lang Nation and became King Hung. Van Lang was the first nation in Vietnamese history and ruled by 18 kings. Hung Kings taught local people to grow rice and selected Nghia Linh Mountain, the highest mountain in the region to perform the religious rituals of the agricultural population as worship of rice god and sun god for the good weather, good crops. To remember the great merit of Hung Kings, the people set up the temple (Hung Kings Temple Relic Site) at the center of Nghia Linh Mountain and chose the 10th day of the third lunar month as Ancestral Anniversary day. From this first temple, the worship of Hung Kings has gradually spread and reaches a national level, and now it is practiced at temples in Northern, Central and Southern and also by Vietnamese overseas.

According to historical documents, the worship of Hung Kings has strongly developed for a long time before officially honored in Le Dynasty (1428 – 1788). It was acknowledged by the imperial dynasties of the Le (1428–1788), Tay Son (1778–1802), and Nguyen (1802–1945) by means of codified legends, royal conferment, and provision of lands to support the worship. Today the Government allocates a substantial budget to safeguard, restore and maintain the spaces of the worship of Hung Kings, especially at Hung Kings Temple Relic Site, and supports the efforts of local people with a role in the Hung Kings Ancestral Anniversary, publishing items (books and DVDs) on legends, rituals and the folk arts related to the worship to serve communities. There are also initiatives to include Hung Kings legend materials in the school curriculum in order transmit the tradition to future generations. The Government also approved a public holiday on the 10th day of the third lunar month so that people nationwide participate and organize sacrificial activities. The total number of Hung Kings temples nationwide is 1,417.

The worship of Hung Kings has diversified forms, typically Hung Kings are jointly worshiped with many other characters as princesses Tien Dung, Ngoc Hoa; Saint Tan Vien; Trung Trac and Trung Nhi… in the temples in Phu Tho Province. The joint worship forms with Long Hai Dai Vuong, Phu Dong Thien Vuong, Mai An Tiem, Chu Dong Tu… also develop in Ha Noi, Thai Binh, Hai Duong, Thanh Hoa… In many localities, Hung Kings are also joint-worshiped at family’s altar.

Every year, on the 10th day of the third lunar month, Ancestral Anniversary day is held at Hung Kings temples nationwide, of which biggest one takes place in Hung Kings Temple Relic Site. In Phu Tho Province, each village selects a Festival Organizing Board (Ban Khanh Tiet) of 6-9 mature, knowledgeable individuals of good conducts who lead and manage the rituals. The Board appoints suitably expert temple guardians to tend worship sites, instruct devotees and offer incense to Hung Kings year round. In addition, villages also select strictly Ritual Committee and knowledgeable elders.

On major Hung Kings festival days, communities make offerings of rice-based delicacies such as square cakes (banh chung) and glutinous cakes (banh giay). People engage in verbal and folk arts and performances including reading of supplication petitions, praying, bronze drum beating and Xoan singing.

With unique and distinct values, on 6 December 2012, in Paris (France), UNESCO officially recognized the worship of Hung Kings in Phu Tho Province as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This is the first belief in Viet Nam recognized as world heritage. The recognized-space includes 109 villages in Phu Tho Town, Viet Tri City and districts of Cam Khe, Doan Hung, Ha Hoa, Lam Thao, Phu Ninh, Tam Nong, Thanh Ba, Thanh Son, Thanh Thuy and Yen Lap (Phu Tho Province).

Art of Don ca tai tu Music and Song in the South of Vietnam

Art of Don ca tai tu music and song in the South of Viet Nam (hereinafter referred to as Don ca tai tu) is a musical art that has both scholarly and folk roots. It developed in the South of Viet Nam in the late nineteenth century. Don ca tai tu resonates with the lifestyle of the Southern people who work on the land and rivers of the delta region. It reflects their inner feelings and emotions, industriousness, generosity and courage.

Characteristics

Don ca tai tu has been influenced by some other forms of cultural heritage from the Central and South of Viet Nam such as ceremonial music (nhac le), classical theatre and folk song (hat boi). The repertoire of Don ca tai tu is based on 20 principal songs (bai to) and 72 classical songs (bai nhac co). These songs consist of skeletal melodies which are used as the basis for improvisation and variation. Don ca tai tu performers express feelings and sentiments by improvising, ornamenting and varying the skeletal melody of pieces and the main rhythmic patterns.

Instruments for Don ca tai tu performance include the moon-shaped lute (kim), two-stringed fiddle (co), 16-string zither (tranh), pear-shaped lute (ty ba), percussion (song lang), monochord (bau) and bamboo flute (sao). The violin and guitar are adapted. The guitar used by Don ca tai tu artists has a deep, hollowed-out finger board, enabling musicians to play special ornamentation characteristic of Don ca tai tu.

Don ca tai tu practitioners include master instrumentalists (thay don), who are highly skillful at playing and teaching numerous instruments and who have mastered all of the classical repertoire; master lyricists (thay tuong), who are knowledgeable and experienced at composing new song texts; master singers (thay ca), who have mastered the classical repertoire and who can perform and teach the distinctive Don ca tai tu vocal techniques and ornamentation. There are also regular instrumentalists (danh cam) and singers (danh ca).

Don ca tai tu is performed within hereditary musical families and by music ensembles and clubs. The audience can join practicing, making comments or creating new song texts.

Don ca tai tu is passed between generations through two methods: The traditional method of oral transmission as truyen ngon, truyen khau, which literally means “transmitting through the fingers and through the mouth”. For this traditional method, the master instrumentalists and singers directly teach learners who are members of ensembles, clubs or families. The second method combines traditional oral methods of transmission with a syllabus in many of the national and provincial schools of art and culture. Instrumentalists must study for at least three years in order to learn basic instrumental techniques, such as tremolo, glissando, trills, vibrato... They learn to perform solo or with other musicians in duets, trios, quartets, quintets or sextets. Vocal learners, performing either solo or in a duet, study the traditional songs. They learn to subtly improvise using different ornamentation techniques in a way that is in keeping with the musical aesthetics of the musical community and is appropriate for the particular melody, mode and song text performed.

The people in Southern of Viet Nam consider Don ca tai tu as an indispensible spiritual cultural activity in festivals, death anniversary rituals and celebratory social events like weddings and birthdays... The Death Anniversary of the Ancestors held annually on the twelfth day of the eighth lunar month.

Outstanding values

Originated in diversified cultural tradition of the central and Southern regions of Viet Nam, Don ca tai tu is always an important element in social and cultural life of Vietnamese people.

Don ca tai tu is a cultural heritage value that mixes the influences of court music and popular music, and has been influenced cultural exchanges with Chinese, Khmer and Western populations.

The performance of Don ca tai tu also helps the community preserve other cultural practices and customs that are associated with festivals, oral culture, and handicrafts. Nowadays, Don ca tai tu is not only a cultural activity of the community, it also makes a contribution to sustainable tourism in the local area.

On 5 December 2013 at the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Baku City (Azerbaijan), UNESCO recognized officially Don ca tai tu as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.