Safeguarding unique cultural value of ‘Mo Muong’

‘Mo Muong’ is a popular folk rite practised in funerals or rituals to pray for the good health of the Muong ethnic community. This is a unique intangible cultural and spiritual heritage which has been practised and safeguarded by many generations of Muong people.

Mo Muong is praised as a folklore encyclopaedia containing the quintessence of Muong ethnic culture (Photo: VNA)
Mo Muong is praised as a folklore encyclopaedia containing the quintessence of Muong ethnic culture (Photo: VNA)

Mo Muong is praised as a folklore encyclopaedia containing the quintessence of Muong ethnic culture. According to artisan Bui Hong Nhi, Mo Muong has been handed over from generation to generation and has been constantly created along with the country’s development.

The practice of Mo Muong people is a means of communication to pay respect to supernatural forces and ancestors while conveying philosophical ideas about nature, the universe, knowledge, and social practices of the Muong; thereby contributing to educating and nurturing human personality and preserving traditional customs.

While discussing the cultural values of Mo Muong, Meritorious Artist Bui Huy Vong stressed that Mo Muong is the convergence of experiences in production, cultural behaviour, human philosophy, and love expressed for the life of the Muong people.

Mo Muong recreates human history, reflects people's perception of the birth of heaven and earth, and the development of society; and summarises lessons about community life such as the meaning of solidarity among the family, community and nation.

In addition, Mo Muong is also a type of folklore performance integrating music, dance and theatre; at the same time conveying religious content on folk rituals and traditional knowledge.

However, artisan Bui Huy Vong noted that since 1945, Mo Muong has faced high risks of being lost and the number of Mo Muong practitioners has been decreasing.

Echoing the same view, artisan Bui Hong Nhi explained the reason is that the Muong ethnic group does not have a writing system, and Mo Muong was orally transferred through generations, so it becomes less popular throughout the community.

Given the alarming situation, in 2020, the Prime Minister asked relevant agencies to build a national dossier on Mo Muong to submit to UNESCO for registration on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

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Delegates at the conference, held by the Institute of Music in coordination with the Hoa Binh provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, seek ways to preserve Mo Muong’s heritage (Photo: sovanhoa.hoabinh.gov.vn)

Recently, a conference was organised by the Institute of Music under the Vietnam National Academy of Music, in coordination with the Hoa Binh provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to gather opinions and suggestions from experts and cultural researchers in preserving and promoting the value of Mo Muong, thus contributing to the building of the dossier on the heritage.

Participants at the event contributed ideas to safeguard the treasured value of Mo Muong and how to revive its vitality in the contemporary life of Muong ethnic people.

According to the Director of the Hoa Binh Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Bui Thi Niem, Mo Muong has been identified as a "living" intangible cultural heritage and a treasure passed down by ancestors to their descendants.

Therefore, it is very important to preserve and promote the unique values of Mo Muong, she stressed.

She called on the provinces and cities participating in the building of the Mo Muong dossier to conduct surveys and accurate inventories of the types of Mo Muong practices and the number of practitioners.

She also asked for more efforts to gather artisans and establish Mo Muong clubs in communes and districts, promulgate preferential policies for the heritage’s practitioners, and raise public awareness of the significance and meaning of Mo Muong.