The art of Bài Chòi in Central Viet Nam

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Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Vietnamese Institute for Musicology, 2015

The art of Bài Chòi in Central Viet Nam is a diverse art combining music, poetry, acting, painting and literature. It takes two main forms: ‘Bài Chòi games’ and ‘Bài Chòi performance’. Bài Chòi games involve a card game played in bamboo huts during the Lunar New Year. In Bai Choi performances, male and female Hieu artists perform on a rattan mat, either moving from place to place or in private occasions for families. The bearers and practitioners of the art of Bài Chòi are Hieu artists, solo Bài Chòi performers, card-making folk artists and hut-making folk artists. The art of Bài Chòi is an important form of culture and recreation within village communities. Performers and their families play a major role in safeguarding the practice by teaching song repertoires, singing skills, performance techniques and card-making methods to younger generations. Together with communities, these performers have set up nearly 90 Bài Chòi teams, groups and clubs to practise and transmit the art form, which attracts wide community participation. Most performers of the art learn their skills within the family and the skills are mainly transmitted orally, but artists specializing in Bài Chòi also transmit knowledge and skills in clubs, schools and associations.

Panorama of Bài chòi festival in Võ Ninh commune, Quả Ninh district, Quảng Bín
The Hiệu performers from Bài chòi Sông Yên club, Hòa Vang district, Đà Nẵng city are announcing the name of the card
View of Bài chòi festival in Gò market, Tuy Phựớc district, Bính Định province
The Hiệu performers from Bài chòi folk art Club in Hoài Thanh commune, Hoài Nhợ district, Bính Địn province, are offering a reward of wine to the winner
Folk artist Nguyễn Cải (94 years old) from An Ninh Tây commune, Tuy An district, Phú Yên province, is talking about the cards
Folk artist Lê Thị Đào (90 years old) from Mỹ Thạnh hamlet, Nhợn district, Bính Địn province is performing the excerpt Thoại Khanh - hâu Tuầ (belonging to the type Bài chòi rong - mobile Bà ci chói)
Folk artist Trịnh Thị Hồng (on the left, 64 years old) and folk artist Trựợng Thị Hằng (on the right, 58 years old) from Bài chòi club in Hòa Kiến commune, Tuy Hòa city, Phú Yên province, are performing Bài chòi lớp
Staff of the Center of Culture & Information in Hội An old town, Quảng Nam province, are teaching Bài chòi to school-goers
Woodblocks used to print paper cards in Từa Thiên Huế and some sample cards
Some tools and musical instruments used by Bài chòi players and the music band in Bài chòi game