Practices of Then by Tày, Nùng and Thái ethnic groups in Viet Nam (جاري عملية الترجمة)

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Then, an essential ritual practice in the spiritual life of the Tày, Nùng and Thái ethnic groups in Viet Nam, reflects concepts about human beings, the natural world and the universe. Then ceremonies describe a journey in which the Then Master (male or female) controls ghost soldiers travelling from the earth realm to the heaven realm, to offer items of worship and present their prayers for peace, for treating illnesses, good crops, a happy new year, etc. The Then Master starts the journey by singing and plucking a tính lute. Depending on the worshipping purposes, Then masters arrange worship trips to pray to different native Gods. Then masters use various items – such as a demon-expelling sword, a yin and yang rod, a bell, etc. – to perform ceremonies in the believer’s house, outdoors or at the Then alter of the Master’s house. The Master wears ceremonial dress, sings in the language of their ethnic group, plays the tính lute, shakes rattle-bells and waves a fan. Some ceremonies are accompanied by a female dancing group. Then is always transmitted orally while its rituals are conducted, reflecting its succession between the generations, and Then Masters play a key role in passing on the related skills and know-how, with some conducting around 200 ceremonies a year.
The Then rite “The newly-built house celebration” performed by Male Then Master Hoàng Đức Dục (born in 1962, the Tày people) in Ba Bể district, Bắc Kạn province
The Then rite “Praying for good crop” performed by Female Then Master Mông Thị Sấm (born in 1939, the Nùng people) in Lạng Sơn city, Lạng Sơn province
A worshipping tray in the Then rite “Cầu Khoăn” (worship for the vital spirit) of the Tày people in Chiêm Hóa district, Tuyên Quang province
The Khám lễ dance in the Then ritual “Showing gratitude to the ancestors” performed by Female Then Master Chu Thị Hồng Vân (1974, the Nùng people) in Lạng Giang district, Bắc Giang province
The Chầu dance in a Then rite “Cầu Hoa” (to pray for a child) of the Tày ethnic group performed by Female Then Master Nông Thị Lìm (born in 1945, the Tày people) in Cao Lộc district, Lạng Sơn city, Lạng Sơn province
The Xòe dance around the Pang tree in a Then rite “Praying for a child” of the Thái people in the Tau village, Điện Biên Phủ city, Điện Biên province
The Then Cấp sắc (the ritual giving certificate to the profestional practice of the Then master) rite of the Tày people in Yến Lạc town, Na Rì district, Bắc Kạn province
The musical instruments, clothes, and objects used in a Then rite performed by Male Then Master Lưu Đình Bạo (born in 1942, the Tày people) in Dương Quang commune, Bắc Kạn province: 1. The Tính tẩu lute, 2. Singing, 3. Dress, 4. a picture hung in front of the tray of Master Then, 5. Tintinnabulum, 6. Drill, 7. Mèn (bell), 8. Tag, 9. The con niêng (reserved for the senior Then Master), 10. sword, 11. seal, 12. a pair of Thẻn coins
Male Then Master Hà Văn Thuấn (born in 1942, the Tày people) in Chiêm Hóa district, Tuyên Quang province teaching the Then singing and the Tính lute to children at a session of Then singing - the Tính lute of their community
The 2015 fifth festival on Then singing – Tính lute of the Tày, Nùng, and Thái ethnic groups in Tuyên Quang province
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