Friday, May 27, 2011

Diverse voices, gestures mixed in Jeonju

“Jultagi” is a traditional Korean performance of tightrope-walking which is included into Important Intangible Cultural Properties No. 58. The performance will be held at the Festival of Asia Pacific Intangible Cultural Heritage in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, from June 10 to 12.
/ Courtesy of Festival of Asia Pacific Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage festival to feature Asian weddings

Intangible cultural heritages are best found in people’s daily lives and patterns of behavior. Weddings might well define the lifestyles and customs of people living in certain regions.

The Festival of Asia Pacific Intangible Cultural Heritage 2011 in Jeonju will feature the theme “Asian Weddings” from June 10 to 12 around the Jeonju Hanok Village.

The event, which began last year, will likely draw some 500 participants from five Asian countries — Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Korea. This year, participants from multicultural families living in the region will organize various programs that reflect their native cultures and lifestyles.

Jeong Jin-kwon, director of the festival, said that the event is designed to offer a glimpse of intangible cultural heritages ranging from customs and documents to crafts in one place.

The festival was originally launched to celebrate the hosting of the Asia-Pacific Intangible Cultural Heritage Center in the town which will be completed next year. It means it deserves to be a host of this festival as it is one of the most active in preserving traditional lifestyles and intangible cultural heritages,” he said.

“Many people think the festival programs are separated from visitors. But our festival will be a venue for interactive communications between visitors and performers. Participants will be united as many people from multicultural families are actively engaging in the festival organization,” he said.

The event consists of four sections — an international invited performance, a Korean invited performance, Intangible Cultural Heritage International Symposium (China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam) and special programs.

Among others, the Asia Pacific Village will offer an opportunity to experience diverse cultures from six countries — China, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, the Philippines and Korea. The program is voluntarily organized by multicultural families and foreign students. They will present their wedding customs, costumes, food and photographs to introduce their own native cultures to visitors. They can experience foreign wedding ceremonies and traditions in the village along with other participants.

“Last year, mostly traditional craft demonstrations and exhibitions constituted the festival program, alienating festival goers and exhibitors. But this year’s programs mostly aim to boost the festival mood through dynamic events such as the street parades and the Asia Pacific Village, engaging all the participants together,” he said.

“While preparing for the event, we found many things in common in culture and lifestyles in various Asian nations. They are the vivid witnesses of their own culture. Someday in the future our life can be a thing of the past and become an intangible cultural heritage. So we are interacting with each other to further understand present lifestyles and customs,” he said.

The programs will feature the theme of Asian weddings in various channels by international performers from an 11-year-old girl to an 81-year-old master. Also, traditional Korean intangible cultural heritage performances will entertain the ears and eyes of visitors.
A photo exhibition on weddings in Korea, China and Japan will be held during the festival. Also, visitors can participate in the event “My Wedding Story” by posting their memorable wedding stories on the festival’s website. Also, the wedding parade will engage some 100 participants who will wear special makeup and traditional wedding costumes.

In addition, “Media Facade: Missing You, Loving You,” a new media art form, will be performed at the festival, which will be projected on the facade of hanok for the first time.

Overseas performances of weddings

The Royal Cambodian Mohori Ensemble will perform traditional Cambodian music originating from ancient Khmer on June 11 and 12. There are various types of Mohori ensembles. A large Mohori ensemble consists of some 50 musicians or more, depending upon its patronage. This time, the Mohori Ensemble, which belongs to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, will present a five-piece ensemble at the festival. The group will show the process of a Khmer wedding that has evolved over the years. The wedding was once conducted over three days and nights but today it is conducted merely on one day and night. Whatever the length of the wedding ceremony may be, music is played almost continuously to accompany the various selected rituals within the overall ceremony. The ensemble will perform a rich Khmer music repertoire including wedding music related to the festival’s main theme.

Taiwan’s Rukai tribe’s ancient traditional wedding might be one of the more fascinating shows in the program. The Rukai Cultural Performance Group will perform a traditional wedding ceremony at the festival on June 10 and 12. The group, consisting of 16 members, represents the Indigenous Rukai tribe of Taiwan and the Rukai people are Austronesian or “Ngudradrekai” (people of the mountains) in their own language, living in the mountains of south Taiwan. The Rukai are a small indigenous tribe in Taiwan with a population of about 11,000 people. They are unique in their costumes, language, and history. They are known in Taiwan for their singing, dancing and costumes, three inseparable elements of their intangible cultural heritage. Members of this performance group have lived their entire lives in Wutai and are accomplished in the art of Rukai storytelling, song and dance and in the manufacture of their own costumes and building of their own homes. The Rukai group offers the most authentic and representative combination of costume, song, and dance that has been handed down from generation to generation.

A performance of Thailand’s Piphat will be the first in the world in the Jeonju festival on June 11 and 12. A Piphat is a kind of ensemble that performs classical Thai music, which features wind and percussion instruments. It is considered the primary form of ensemble for the interpretation of the most sacred and high-quality compositions of Thai classical repertoire, including Buddhist invocations. It is also used to accompany traditional Thai theatrical and dance forms including khon (masked dance-drama), lakhon (classical dance), and shadow puppet theater. Also, the Korphai Ensemble, a famous traditional Thai percussion group, will perform. Anant Narkkong, musical director of the ensemble, composed a new Piphat number “Princess Manorah and Prince PraSuthon” inspired by an old Thai classic love story about the bird princess Manorah and human prince PraSuthon, which is one of Thai people’s most favorite plays. There are various versions of interpretation and this time, a new version will be premiered with a Thai traditional opera actor and actress suggesting the development of cultural heritage through reinterpretation.

Inscribed in 2009 on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, Vietnam’s Ca Tru will appear on June 11 and 12. Ca Tru is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic form. Groups comprised of three performers: a female singer who uses breathing techniques and vibrato to create unique ornamented sounds, while playing clappers or striking a wooden box, and two instrumentalists who produce the deep tone of a three-stringed lute and the strong sounds of a drum. Some Ca Tru performances also include dance. The varied forms fulfill different social purposes, including worship singing, singing for entertainment, singing in royal palaces and competitive singing. Ca Tru has 56 different musical forms or melodies, each of which is called “cach.” Folk artists previously performed the music and poems orally from within their family line, but now they do so to any who wish to learn. Ongoing wars and insufficient awareness caused Ca Tru to almost disappear in the 20th century. Although the artists have made great efforts to pass on the old repertoire to younger generations, Ca Tru is still under threat of being lost due to the diminishing number and age of its practitioners.

Source: Korea times

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