Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Catru – The traditional Vietnamese folk music

The traditional Vietnamese folk music- ca tru singing – is believed to have religious origins. In the history book of Hung Yen province, there was a story about Ms. Dao Thi Hue, who utilized her beauty and singing talent to seduce and kill the Ming enemies. People later built a temple called Dao Nuong to worship.


Scholars trace its origins back to a type of female singing known as hat a dao, which was widely performed as an expression of worship during the Ly dynasty (1010-1225). As time goes by, it gradually became popular and eventually changed to alternative name, ca tru (singing for reward).

Until 20th century, ca tru had become a common form of entertainment in the north with Kham Thien Street in Ha Noi as its main urban focus. However, after 1945, ca tru nearly died out. It was systematically suppressed to be associated with the prostitution and the degradation of women. In actuality, men were allowed to marry many wives in the past and having extramarital affairs wasn’t a shocking matter. Thus, it was commonly known that many famous ca tru singers did indeed have affairs with important men but it was accepted as a part of society.

In 2005, ca tru was submitted to UNESCO for recognition as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage. In recent years, ca tru has been rediscovered and developed by a number of clubs; the most famous one is Hanoi Ca tru Club which opens on the last Sunday of each month at the Bich Cau Dao Quan Temple, near the Temple of Literature. In order to help revive this ancient art form, the club recently launches the annual ca tru festival, which attracts the participation of many performers from Ha Tay, Hai Phong, Thai Binh, Ha Tinh and Nghe An Provinces. The villagers in Lo Khe in Dong Anh District – one of the cradles of the art form- also annually stage festivals on the 6th day of the 4th lunar month and the 13th day of the 10th lunar month. Joining this festival, you can see the local singers from young to old, sit in a circle and perform a ceremony to worship the founders of ca tru.

Ca tru, literally translates as “tally card songs.” This refers to the bamboo cards men bought when they visited ca tru inns where this music was most often performed in the past. Men would give the bamboo cards they purchased to the woman of choice after her performance and she would collect money based upon how many cards given.

Scholar-bureaucrats and other members of the elite most enjoyed this genre. They often visited these inns to be entertained by the talented young women, who did not only sing, but with their knowledge of poetry and the arts could strike up a witty conversation along with serving food and drink. Besides these inns, ca tru was also commonly performed in communal houses or private homes.

Source: Vietnam-beauty

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