A ceremony was held in the mountainous northern province of Tuyen Quang, on
August 27 to receive certificates recognising the “Cap sac” (coming-of-age)
ritual and the “Pao dung” singing of the Dao ethnic group as national
intangible cultural heritage.
The Cap sac ritual is essential for all Dao men. They must endure the ritual in order to be recognised by the community as a mature and competent adult capable of holding communal positions.
The ritual is rooted in a thousand-year-old Dao legend. It is usually conducted at the end or the beginning of the lunar year for one male or more, always an odd number. Three shamans chair the rituals, assisted by three more, over the course of three days.
On the first day, the ritual is conducted outside. On the next day, the men enter the house to listen to the shamans’ prayers and learn traditional dances. The third day is dedicated to rituals honouring the ancestors.
Pao dung singing, a unique Dao art form, speaks of creativity in labour, the beauty of local landscapes, culture, and love. The songs teach their listeners about their homeland and family relationships.
This type of song is often performed during traditional community rituals and in day-to-day life in the form of lullabies or love songs.
Tuyen Quang province is home to two other national intangible cultural heritages, including Then singing and the Long Tong festival.