|San Chi people sing Soóng Cọ (photo: vannghequandoi.com.vn)
Soóng Cọ is a type of folk singing genre performed between two groups of men and women or mixed groups. The San Chi sing Soong Co whenever and wherever they want, particularly at happy events such as at New Year celebration, weddings, and house warming ceremonies. They sing to make friends, to profess love, and to exchange experiences.
Ninh Thi Ngan, a San Chi of Luc Ngan commune, Bac Giang province, says: “The San Chi, also known as San Chay, sing Soong Co to praise community bonding through meaningful lyrics. We also sing about our love and memories of our youth.”
Soóng Cọ is chanting of a 4-verse and 7-syllable poem. Old people sing to tell their children of parents’ merit to give birth to and bring them up, morality, and appropriate human behaviors. People in love sing to convey their feelings to each other.
Soóng Cọ is a type of community performance at festivals, along with folk games such as pushing sticks, tug of war, swinging, weaving wattles, and hewing shoulder poles. They sing in the San Chi language and wear traditional costumes, aiming to spread their culture and language. At festivals, there are usually many groups of people singing Soóng Cọ from dawn to dark.
|San Chi people sing Soóng Cọ at a festival (photo: quangninh.gov.vn)
Soóng Cọ participants must not be of the same bloodline or have a close relationship such as brother- and sister-in law. Soóng Cọ lyrics are learned verbally so many pieces have been forgotten.
Hoang Huy Trong, head of the Culture and Information Office of Binh Lieu district, said that the Soong Co Festival was a curtain raiser for Binh Lieu district’s tourism in 2022.
The Festival promotes intangible values, creates a festive playground for ethnic groups, and develops local tourism, Trong said.
“The district’s tourism sector will highlight cultural identities of the Binh Lieu region, aiming to build a trademark in Quang Ninh province’s tourism map.”
Quang Ninh provincial Department of Culture and Information is working with the Culture Institute to collect Soóng Cọ songs, establish Soóng Cọ Clubs, and invite elder San Chi people to teach the youth.