Heritage label for ancient ‘Then’ practice

HANOI, 17 December 2019: Vietnam’s ‘Then’ practice recognised by UNESCO as “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.”

‘Then’, an essential ritual practice in the spiritual life of Tay, Nung and Thai ethnic people in Vietnam, has been added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Confirmation was made by the Cultural Heritage Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism last Friday.

The decision was made during the 14th meeting of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Columbia 12 December.

The practices of ‘Then’ describe a journey in which the Master controls ghost soldiers travelling from earth to heaven to present items of worship and prayers for peace, good crops, and good health.

During the practice, the Then Master sings and plays a ‘tinh’ lute, wearing the ceremonial dress.

The ritual practice is mostly observed by Tay, Nung and Tai ethnic communities in the northwest and northeast provinces, including Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Dien Bien and Lai Chau, among others.

UNESCO’s recognition to the practice of ‘Then’ has reaffirmed the cultural diversity of ethnic groups in Vietnam and encouraged dialogues between individuals, community and nations towards tolerance, love and humanity.

The 14th annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage concluded 14 December in the Colombian capital of Bogotá.

During the session, the Committee inscribed seven elements on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and 31 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (Source: Nhan Dan official Communist Party newspaper)