Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Tú Trần Thanh | Ca trù

I am very pleased to feature the work of Hanoi-based photographer Tú Trần Thanh who recently published her Ca Tru: Vietnamese Traditional Music photo gallery on Exposure.

Followers of my own photography and this blog will know that Ca Tru is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Viet Nam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms. It flourished in the 15th century when it was popular with the royal palace, and was a favorite activity of aristocrats and scholars. It was later performed in communal houses, inns and private homes.

Ca trù singing was added in 2009 on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Although Ca trù artists have made great efforts to transmit the old repertoire to younger generations, it is still under threat of being lost due to the diminishing number and age of practitioners. It is  photographers like Tú Trần Thanh who recognize the value of such cultural patrimony, and who document the photographers' performances in an effort to enhance the art's popularity amongst Vietnamese and non Vietnamese alike.

I was very fortunate to have met Tú Trần Thanh, who shares my interest in the Lên đồng and Hầu đồng rituals and who, in spite of having a demanding non-photographic full time job, assisted and facilitated my self-assignment of documenting these rituals during my trip to Hanoi in March 2015.