Melodious sound of the Hmong pan-pipe

When the weather starts to get warm and sunny, the trees sprout and grown, the repercussion of spring still linger in the high mountain Hmong villages when the sound of the Hmong pan-pipe reverberates over the cliffs. The sound of the pan-pipe is the deep farewell to the deceased; the confession of a young man's feelings for his lover, sometimes low, sometimes high, humming, and melodious.
The members of the Club to preserve the cultural identity of the Mong ethnic group in Nam Chay commune learn to play the pan-pipe.

Along with the development of society and integration, many traditional cultural features of ethnic groups are in danger of being lost. In order to uphold the sense of responsibility of the young generation in preserving the traditional cultural features of the nation, in Nam Chay commune (Van Ban district), the Hmong ethnic identity preservation club has been founded. Although the club has just been put into operation, the club has promoted its effectiveness in teaching, preserving and promoting the cultural identity of the Hmong people.

Every month, the Hmong ethnic identity preservation club in Nam Chay commune organizes 2 activities with the participation of all members. Here, young people can learn the unique cultural features, being taught folk songs and dances of the Mong ethnic group by the artists, especially the art of Khen dance. In the free time, in the yard of the cultural house or at the top of the tree in the village, wherever there is a large, open space, the young men in the club invite each other to bring out the pan-pipe to blow. Vang A Dong, the Club President shared: Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the members have not been able to gather, but we still regularly practice playing the pan-pipe at home.

Besides Vang A Dong, the club also has many "9X" members such as Vang A Trau, Vang A Thang... Vang A Thang, the youngest member of the club confided: I learned to play the pan-pipe 3 years ago, but, there are still many songs I have not known yet. Sometimes my teacher go to play the pan-pipe at the funerals, I am allowed to go with him to support and learn more techniques of playing the pan-pipe.

Nam Chay commune has 8 villages with nearly 100% of the population living in the Mong ethnic group, but the number of people who really understand the Mong culture in the commune is still very small. Therefore, when the club was established, the elderly are very happy and dedicated to teaching young people to continue to play pan-pipe as well as preserving the traditional cultural values ​​of the Mong people, including Mr Vang A Pao. Mr. Pao is 70 years old this year, he is the person who is proficient and knowledgeable about the Hmong pan-pipe. The sound of the pan-pipe has been with him since childhood. At the age of 30, he and a young man in the village walked 6-7 km to find a teacher and learn to play the pan-pipe. Over many years, his pan-pipe sound has sent hundreds of dead people to heaven and he was also the one who diligently taught his children and grandchildren to preserve the culture of his nation. Mr. Pao said: Pan-pipe is the unique musical instrument of the Mong people. In the past, wherever they went, the men of Mong ethnic group always carried the pan-pipe with them as personal item. But now, life has changed, people know more about other musical instruments, so as long as my children and grandchildren are passionate about it, I don't mind teaching them. 

Mr. Vang A Pao teaches the members of the club to play the pan-pipe.

The Hmong ethnic identity preservation club in Nam Chay commune does not limit its members to participate in activities and studies, but most of them are men, the number of women learning to play the pan-pipe is very small, because with the Mong people, playing the pan-pipe are mostly men. Mr. Vang A Dong shared: We have named the Club to preserve the cultural identity of the Mong ethnic group in Nam Chay commune, because in addition to the pan-pipe, the club also has many arts that need to be preserved and studied such as flute, lip zither, two-chord fiddle, and leaf pan-pipe, then folk songs and traditional songs. We have surveyed, there are many union members, young people who are very interested in these subjects. The Leadership of the club has built many topics to put in each meeting, thus attracting young people to join the club. 

Up to now, the pan-pipe sound of the Hmong people in Nam Chay still retains its unique features and it is not mixed with the music of any other ethnic group. The youth of Nam Chay commune are always deeply aware of their responsibility in preserving and promoting the national cultural identity, so that those traditional cultural values are always promoted and have a strong pervasive power in the community life.

According to LCDT

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