Facing the risk of fading away due to aging artisans and dwindling performance space, the cultural heritage values of Mo Muong have been at the heart of Hoa Binh’s concerted preservation and promotion efforts.


 

Artisans from various districts exchange experiences at a gathering of Mo Muong Clubs in Cao Phong district.

Mo Muong is a job and also a performance practiced at funerals, religious festivals, and life cycle rituals by the Muong ethnic group. The art consists of Mo prayers and performances by Mo practitioners, or Mo artisans. Through generations, Mo prayers have been passed down verbally in the community. Each Muong community has its own version of Mo, but they are all fairly similar.

Mo Muong clubs - Vitality in Muong regions

Meritorious Artisan Bui Ngoc Thuan, who heads the Mo Muong Thang club in Cao Phong district, said the club officially launched in late 2021, with 25 members, consisting of artisans from nine communes. After three years of operation, it now has 46 members, including 16 young Mo masters aged 26-45, all proficient in Mo songs and rituals.

Bui Yen Minh, Deputy Head of the Cao Phong Office of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, revealed that the district is accelerating the implementation of a project to establish a tourism-integrated conservation space for the cultural heritage in Hop Phong commune. Cao Phong also develops and implements Mo Muong preservation and promotion on an annual basis.

Similar clubs have also been established in many other districts across the province such as Lac Son, Tan Lac, Yen Thuy, and Kim Boi. Based on their activities, the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has directed Mo masters in Muong regions to collect, research, edit, and compile works about unique characteristics of the art genre in each area.

In areas implementing the national target programme for socio-economic development of ethnic minority and mountainous areas, part of the funding has been used to support Mo artisans in costumes, aiding them in practicing and teaching the younger generation.

Transforming Mo Muong into national heritage

On January 19, 2016, the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism issued a decision including Mo Muong in the list of national intangible cultural heritages. In 2020, the art was selected by the Prime Minister as one needing a national dossier for future inscription on the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritages in urgent need of protection.

In recent years, Hoa Binh has issued many important documents serving cultural preservation, with Mo Muong identified as one of the heritages requiring conservation and promotion in community life and a Mo Muong Steering Committee established.

In 2018, the provincial People's Committee approved a project to preserve its value for 2019 - 2025 and the following years. Recently launched were two others on the culture conservation and promotion of the Muong ethnic and the province for 2023 - 2030.

Nguyen Van Toan, Deputy Chairman of the provincial People's Committee said Hoa Binh places priorities on communications work to raise awareness about the profound humanistic role and significance of Mo Muong. Related materials have been widely promoted on mass media and social networks.

Moreover, the province has proposed recognising Mo artisans as meritorious ones as prescribed, while establishing mechanisms and policies to incentivise and honour those who have contributed to the preservation, maintenance, transmission, and teaching of Mo Muong.

The Muong ethnic script was approved in 2026 serving its teaching and learning throughout the province. The authorities also selected suitable content, especially Mo Epic, to be included in the local heritage education programme for secondary schools./.

(To be continued)

 

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