Culture

Bài Chòi – The heart of Hoian culture

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Ranked as one of the best tours in Vietnam, the UNESCO’s recognized Old Quarter of Hoian is highly famed as a “living museum” of tangible as well as intangible relics. Amongst a huge archive of cultural values remained, Bài Chòi can be recalled as a significant folklore game that still greatly intrigues local’s attention and interest. What is Bài Chòi, why do Hoian locals love it so much and how to join this interesting game as a total beginner? Read down for more!

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Hoian – The cradle of Bài Chòi

A brief introduction to Bài Chòi

Bài Chòi is held at the beginning of each year as a fun way welcome a new year ahead. This allows people to communicate via singing and entertaining in a form of a local folklore game. Apparently, Bài Chòi can be referred to as a festival that starts on the 1st Lunar New Year. In the opening section, a performance offered to Buddha, Gods, and ancestors is conducted. This is also the most austere segment of the whole event. After this solemn ceremony, people start gathering up following the drumbeat to join in the main part of Bài Chòi.

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A night of Bài Chòi

Bài Chòi was initialized by peasants living across the Quảng land, where various high towers were open to guard over the vast rice fields. During their hard-working time on the field, village boys came up with an idea of communicating through songs.

A step-by-step guide to enjoying Bài Chòi

Taking a Central Vietnam private tour to Hoian and spending a serene night with long walks on the street to the center of the Old Quarter, you would be led to a small square open lounge where the scenes of Bài Chòi are set up. Usually, in a front yard of a communal house or pagoda, ten thatched platforms are built on stilts, each of which obtains from 4 to 5 players. These thatched houses represent the watch-towers in the past.

Bài Chòi is a game of luck combining the use of poetry, music, and acting. There are 2 decks containing 30 cards. One deck is put inside a bamboo tube placed on the stage, while the other one is delivered to the players sitting in the thatched towers. Cards are then drawn randomly. Once each of them is drawn, the card’s name is accordingly shouted out loud. That one tower which has the same card will get a flag. The first tower or team to obtain 3 flags wins.

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Thatched towers where players are located

When Bài Chòi is performed, a master of ceremonies known as “Mr. Hiệu” is the one to control the game and get the audience to engage. After drawing a card, Mr. Hiệu immediately comes up with a song line based on the card’s name he is holding. Afterward, an impromptu of singing with the participation from the players is received, which intrigues the captivation of the game.

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Bài Chòi cards

Bài Chòi requires a spacious area that is set up to entertain visitors, especially on the full-moon nights. This space forms a profound connection between the players as well as the audiences. Nowadays, Bài Chòi game is frequently held every night along the bank of Hoài River in the middle of Hoian Old Quarter and has since attracted a good number of participants. If Vietnam heritage tour is something you are down for, consider “Central Vietnam heritage road tour” featured Hoian for a satisfying trip.

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Mr. Hiệu – MC of the game

When Vietnamese folk game is put on the map of World’s heritage highlights

On the 7th of December 2017, Bài Chòi game was officially recognized in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This event marks an essential significance for the cities and provinces all over the land of Central Vietnam.

As an Asian country with over 2000 years of existence, an idea of Vietnam heritage tours is totally worthwhile, even if it is a North, Central or South Vietnam group tour. With Bài Chòi, Central Vietnam once again stimulates the curiosity and love for the culture of both local and foreign visitors. Save this post for your further need and get to attend to see Bài Chòi at least once in your life.

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