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Chau Van singing – Spiritual Singing


Chùa Lưu Phái, Thanh Trì, Hanoi

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

Dating back to the 16th century, Chau Van is a ceremonial activity that originally developed as a way for an ill person to beseech the blessings of deities (than). This form of Chau Van is also known as Hau Dong or Hau Bong. A master of the ceremony (Cung Van) will invite the deities to come to the altar that has been set up. If the deities come, they will enter the sick person’s body, leaving behind spiritual renewal. The master of ceremony and the orchestra are there to encourage the deities to enter the person’s body with shouts of praise and music suited for the different styles of dancing.

Another form of Chau Van is Len Dong. Like Hau Dong, it is a religious form that honors deities and deified heroes. But its purpose is different – the incantations are used to invite deities to bless the living with good fortune or bring black the dead to visit with their loved ones. The medium will dance trance-like and change clothes depending on the personality of the spirit within.

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

See this performance of Chau Van singing

Chau Van Singing Club (full name: Vietnam’s Chau Van arts preservation club) has officially been established at Luu Phai Temple, Thanh Tri, Hanoi.

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