|Thai artists in Na Phon commune, Mai Chau district, Hoa Binh province perform bamboo pole dance. (photo: VOV)
Khap Thai is a genre of singing poetry. Any poem or narrative can be made into a song. There are many types of Khap Thai singing depending on the content and topics of the songs.
You’ve just heard artist Ha Thi Bich sining a greeting to distinguished guests. Her song could be translated as: “When you visit the fields, please greet the rice. When you visit a place with water, you’re invited to talk with the fish.”
Thai people sing “khap” anywhere and anytime, at their house or in the field, while lullabying children or joining festivals, at the spring festival, at house warming, and longevity celebration, or even seeing off the deceased to their ancestors. “Khap” verses talk about simple things in people’s life, about their work, their life, habits, beliefs, and customs.
Emeritus Artist Ha Thi Bich of the Thai group in Nà Phòn commune, Hoa Binh province, said: “Khap Thai is a unique Thai singing genre which has been handed down from generation to generation. Khắp Thái singing praises the countryside, the rice fields, and the beautiful hamlets of the Thai. We sing khap together while performing the bamboo pole and keng loóng dances. Khap singing is indispensable at the Xên Mường Festival. We organized a Khap Thai Club with 30 members, both male and female of different ages. They are talented and enthusiastic. We often perform at ceremonies, festivals, weddings, house warming ceremonies, and ceremonies for new-born children.”
The most popular Khap Thai melodies are for love-duet singing, lullabies, spring celebrating tunes, and poem recital. Khap verses are taken from Thai narrative poetry, combined with rhythms, and the singers’ emotion. A Khap love-duet singing session uses the topic of love to show the singing ability of the boys and girls.
Khap singing is often accompanied by bamboo flutes and panpipes to create melodious performances.
Ha Van Xem, a Thai man, from Mai Chau district, said: “Khap means singing in the Thai ethnic language. Khap is accompanied by panpipes. At weddings, we sing to welcome and greet each other. There is call-and-response khap singing between men and women, men and men, and women and women. Khap is different among localities. Khap in Mai Chau district is different from khap in Son La province.”
Ha Van Ngan, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of the People’s Committee of NaPhon commune, said Thai localities have paid great attention to preserving khap.
“Na Phon commune is paying great attention to protecting the intangible cultural heritage of local people. Under the National Target Program on the socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountain areas, we implement a project called project 8 to preserve local cultural identity. We have organized two clubs of Thai traditional arts.”
Photo 2: Thai ethnic people in Na Phon commune, Mai Chau district, Hoa Binh province dancing.
Ảnh 1: Nghệ nhân Ưu tú Hà Thị Bích
Ảnh 2: Bà con dân tộc Thái ở xã Nà Phòn, huyện Mai Châu, tỉnh Hòa Bình nhảy sạp