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Artisan with passionate attachment to ancient Then singing

TQO - Meritorious Artist Ma Van Duc from Tan Ha ward, Tuyen Quang province, is known as a celebrated artist who keeps the soul of Then folk singing in Tuyen Quang. Duc has collected and translated the lyrics of around 100 Then songs, with nearly 20,000 verses written in the form of seven-word line.

In addition, he has conducted several researches such as ‘An Overview of Then singing of Tay ethnic people in Tuyen Quang province’, ‘Preservation of ancient Then singing melodies’, and ‘Preservation of art spaces and props of Then singing in Tuyen Quang’.

Most recently, he has completed a 200-page research on ‘Then quat’, a genre of Then singing during which practitioners use paper fans for their performance. Duc spent four years to work on the research on ‘Then quat’ and completed it at the end of 2018. 

Meritorious Artist Ma Van Duc working on his research on ‘Then quat’ singing.

‘Then quat’ is a form of religious folk singing hosted by Then masters during funerals of Tay ethnic people. To get a deeper understanding about the genre, Duc visited Khuon Ha commune, Na Hang district, and several communes in Chiem Hoa district and attended ‘Then quat’ worshipping rituals so that he could witness the performance with his own eyes as well as take photos and exchange talks with performers.

Duc is concerned about the fact that Then singing is facing the risk of being lost. Therefore, the preservation and promotion of Then is an urgent task, contributing to safeguarding the traditional customs and practices of the Tay ethnic people in Tuyen Quang province.

Phan Anh

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