Chau van club dedicated to preserving the art opens in Hanoi

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A hat chau van (traditional Vietnamese folk art combining trance singing and dancing) preservation club has been established in Hanoi.

The art originated in the 16th century and spread quickly.

Sponsored by the Vietnam Federation of UNESCO Associations, the club works as a non-profit organization aiming to preserve the traditional art in its true form, according to the club's chairman, Professor Ngo Duc Thinh.

"Chau van is the soul of a ritual called hau dong, of mediumship between spirits, connected to the worship of Mother Goddesses. The practice, however, had been interrupted in a long period in the past, and now it has become mixed with negative elements," explained Thinh.

"Since the art's revival, it has attracted many "˜fake' followers across the country that expects to earn money by learning some melodies from watching and listening to CDs and videos," he said.

The club has invited five senior artisans aged between 80 and 90, and other experienced practitioners to conduct chau van classes at the club located at Luu Phai Temple in Thanh Tri District.

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"Though at present we only accept trainees from northern provinces, hundreds of people have registered our classes," Thinh said at the opening ceremony on March 21, which was attended by hundreds of chau van singers.

The music and poetry of chau van includes a variety of instruments, rhythms, pauses, and tempos. The main instrument used is the dan nguyet (moon-shaped lute).

The genre is famous for its use in rituals for deity mediumship. Chau van first hypnotizes mediums so that they may receive communication from deities and then accompanies that communication with appropriate music.

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