Kite flute festival recognised as National Intangible Cultural Heritage

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The custom of playing kite flute during the Sáo Đền Kite Festival has been recognised as the National Intangible Cultural Heritage. Photo

HÀ NỘI The custom of playing kite flute during the Sáo Đền Kite Festival has been recognised as National Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of the Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The festival, which takes place in Song An Commune, Vũ Thư District, Thái Bình Province, is one of the region’s major events.

The commune is also home to the Sáo (Flute) Temple – a national historic and cultural site, which hosts the Sáo Temple Kite Festival annually.

Built in 1471, the Sáo Temple honours Queen Mother Ngô Thị Ngọc Giao of King Lê Thánh Tông (1442-97) and the three meritorious brothers and officials Đinh Lễ, Đinh Bồ and Đinh Liệt, who made great contributions to the establishment of the Earlier Lê dynasty.

The Sáo Đền Kite Festival aslo features several rituals, including a parade of the Queen Mother’s palanquin. Photo

Every year, on the death anniversaries of those figures, descendants of Đinh Lễ, who was also a great general of the Lê dynasty, commemorate him by flying kites. Legend has it that Gen Đinh Lễ used to encourage his soldiers to fly kites to combat the fatigue of battle.

Visitors to the Sáo Temple can see a 400-year-old kite flute hanging above the solemn main altar – evidence that the locals regard the kite as a significant spiritual source.

The one-week festival, held from the 18th to the 28th day of the third lunar month, draws dozens of kite flute fliers and thousands of visitors from neighbouring areas.

Alongside a parade of the Queen Mother’s palanquin, the festival also features several contests or folk games such as cock fighting, swimming to catch ducks, and walking on a slender bamboo trunk supported by ropes over a pond.

The kite flute competition is the most anticipated event of the festival with many kite flyers from the region participating.

Every year, tens of kite flyers from the region participate the flute kite competition that has been held during the Sáo Đền Kite Festival. Photo

The kite should measure at least 1.8m to be able to carry a flute made of bamboo and jackfruit wood, which is lighter than other kinds of wood. While a single kite flute produces only bass tones, a multiple flute kite can create various tones like an orchestra. VNS

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