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Vietnam

Vietnamese

Geography & Topography

Capital: Hanoi

Area: 331,114 km²

Population: 87 840 000

Language: Vietnamese, English, French, Chinese, Khmer, local languages

Religion: Buddhist, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Christian, indigenous beliefs, Muslim

Currency: Dong

History

Vietnam, in South East Asia stretches 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) north to south. Nature has blessed Vietnam with a bountiful of harvest, soaring mountains, beautiful coastlines and radiant rice fields. It can be said that were three layers of culture overlapping each other during the history of Vietnam; that is, the local culture, the culture that was mixed with several regions such as China and the culture that interacted with the Western culture. Vietnam’s history has been devastated during the cold war where north was opposed to the south between 1955 and 1975. After 20 years of instability eventually, the country reunited and became the socialist Republic of Vietnam that we know today. The Vietnam war inspired many musicians to write war protest songs in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Performing Arts

 

Music

The cultural diversity of Vietnam can be expressed no better than through its music. Cultural symbolisms and motifs are usually emphasized in its music whether it is a form of chamber music or folk music. Traditional Vietnamese music often consists of a wide-range of string, wind and percussion instruments.

The most recognizable instruments in traditional Vietnamese music are:

Dan Bao

Đàn bầu

Đàn bầu: The Đàn bầu is known to create soft, serene sounds. It is believed to have existed since the Vietnam’s early dynastic era. A single-stringed instrument the Đàn bầu comprises of a soundboard, serving as its resonator, a spout, a gourd, a string and a tuning peg. In its original form, the Đàn bầu is made of four parts which are a bamboo tube, a wooden rod, half a coconut shell and a silk string. The string runs across the bamboo and is secured on one end to the rod, which is perpendicularly attached to the bamboo. This differs from the present day Đàn bầu where the silk string is replaced with an iron string.

Dan gao

Dan gao

 

Đàn gáo: A Vietnamese bowed-string instrument with two strings. Its body is made from half of a coconut shell covered with wood and a small seashell functioning as the bridge. The Đàn gáo is closely related to Yehu, a Chinese instrument. It is mostly used in the traditional music of South Vietnam.

Sáo: A small traverse flute used in the traditional music of Vietnam. It has a slender cylindrical body that is typically made of bamboo. It is used in Vietnamese folk music as well as in the music of the former royal court.

 

Dance

Much of Vietnamese theatre and music are intertwined with each other, as well as with Vietnamese dance. Traditional Vietnamese dance includes several different forms. Including dance for theatre and opera, dances performed at festivals, and royal dances of the imperial court.

Examples of traditional Vietnamese dances are:

Fan Dance

Fan dance

Fan Dance: This type of dance is often performed in the royal court or among the community. There are two types of fans used in this dance: one is large, colourful and covered with feathery materials, the other is smaller and made from wood. The larger fans are often used to display grace and beauty while the latter are often used to display refinement and subtlety.

Hat Dance

Hat Dance

Hat Dance: The two main themes of hat dances are the depiction of women’s gracefulness and common daily life activities of the Vietnamese. This includes farming, since agriculture has been the main source of living for the Vietnamese since ancient times. Harvesting, rice plantation and marketing are activities commonly portrayed in hat dances.

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • In Vietnamese schools, instead of bells, gongs are used to notify students.
  • Vietnam’s mountainous terrain, forests, wetlands, and long coastline contain many different habitats that support a great variety of wildlife. Some 270 type of mammals, 180 reptiles, 80 amphibians and 800 bird species reside in Vietnam.
  •  Tropical forests once covered most of Vietnam, but over the past few years, logging has reduced the forest cover by 19 percent. The government has launched a replanting program in an attempt to restore these woodlands.

Vietnamese Community in Australia:

More information on the Vietnamese community: