By Quang Binh Tourism Department
Quang Binh Tourism Board
The art of Bai Choi
The art of Bai Choi (Vietnamese traditional bingo game) has been recognized by UNESCO as the representative intangible cultural heritage of mankind since 2017. Bai Choi appeared hundreds of years ago. The origin of Bai Choi is said to come from land reclamation. At that time, people built huts on newly- reclaimed forest land to guard wild animals and protect crops. In the hut, there were instruments such as wooden fish and drum to make sounds to scare off wild animals. And the art of Bai Choi was born as a pastime of the people here. Nowadays, it is still prevalent in cities and provinces throughout the Central region from Quang Binh to Binh Dinh.
The performance crew performs "Bai Choi"Quang Binh Tourism Department
Playing Bai Choi is simply a way to sit on a hut (Choi) and play cards (Bai). But it is not just a game, Bai Choi is an art of singing of the main artists in the role of “Anh Hieu” (the game manager).
There are 4 verbs usually used in regarding to Bai choi: play - hit - shout - sing. The lines in Bai Choi are often 4 to 5-words lines rhyming with each other in the 've' rule. However, the most popular rules for Bai choi are melody for Bai choi lines. It is usually sung in 6 main melodies: old Xuân nữ, new Xuân nữ, Cổ bản, old Xàng xê, new Xàng xê, Hồ quảng. The performer will improvise the content of the line based on the name of the card
The main singing hut used in the "Bai Choi" clubQuang Binh Tourism Department
The main hut is for Anh Hieu, which is a place for putting cards as well as a place for the performance of the crew, towards the players.
The side hut is used in the "Bai Choi" clubQuang Binh Tourism Department
To organize a Bai Choi game, the first is task to build a hut. Currently, the construction of the hut to organize the playing cards has undergone transformations, while the remaining hut for Anh Hieu, the remaining huts are arranged on either side or around the playground are reserved for players.
Hanging the chanted "Bai Choi" cardQuang Binh Tourism Department
The way to organize the Bai Choi game in each locality may differ, but there are similarities, such as building huts, playing cards, Anh Hieu, costumes, music, chanting, rhythm, cards’ division, awards, the New Year trees, assembly houses, hanging flags, gong drums, start and end dates.
The "Bai Choi" card is chosen by the player to playQuang Binh Tourism Department
Each player chooses 3 cards to start the game.
The "Bai Choi" cardQuang Binh Tourism Department
Cards in the deck are laid out before each game. The card is randomly chanted, a person on duty gives a card to all players to compare. Cards that have been chanted will be hung up to avoid duplication.
Compare the "Bai Choi" cardQuang Binh Tourism Department
Compare the "Bai Choi" card after performing.
Prepare the card and turn the cardQuang Binh Tourism Department
After each game, the cards are collected and shuffled, ready for players to select in the next turn.
The chanted "Bai Choi" cardQuang Binh Tourism Department
The traditional art of Bai Choi performance is a pastime, a form of gentle play, where winning does not matter. This unique folk art form plays an important part and role in the spiritual life of people in Quang Nam - Da Nang area.
The "Bai Choi" clubQuang Binh Tourism Department
Nowadays, in some areas from Quang Nam to Binh Thuan, we can still hear local people singing Bai Choi. Sometimes, they even set up a crew to tour locally.