Thao Thi Chua – a guardian of Mong culture

(VOVworld) – Thao Thi Chua, a Mong woman, has spared no effort or money to collect and preserve old utensils and antique musical instruments of the Mong ethnic group. VOV looks at her meaningful work.

Thao Thi Chua – a guardian of Mong culture  - ảnh 1

We met Thao Thi Chua at the Culture Village of Vietnam’s Ethnic Minority Groups in Son Tay, on the outskirts of Hanoi. Chua wore the traditional Mong skirt and talked enthusiastically about her passion for collecting Mong antiques. “I love my ethnic group very much. If I don’t collect, the younger generation will have nothing. I’m a senior and I have to preserve our group’s traditional culture for our children so they will know about their roots. I’m a small individual and I’m collecting small items of our ethnic group.”

Mrs. Chua has donated many Mong antiques to the Culture Village of Vietnam’s Ethnic Minority Groups. She spent a lot of effort and money collecting them. For example, she exchanged money and two big pots for an old silver jar. Chua said: “People die, but their products exist forever. When I die, I will give my entire collection to the Vietnam Museum or the provincial museum to keep for the next generation. These items will remind our children of their roots.”

Chua regularly go to distant hamlets to collect old utensils of the Mong. She has visited every hamlet in Meo Vac district. “I know everybody in the district. When I have free time, I visit houses to ask if they have small, wood bowls, chili mortars, pan-pipes or anything old. If they do, I buy it. They say I buy things of little value - old, discarded things.”, Chua said.

Chua loves collecting pan-pipes. She carefully preserves old pan-pipes and only shows them to distinguished guests. Chua said the pan-pipe is the connection between the worlds of spirits and humans. “The pan-pipe is an important musical instrument of the Mong. It’s the companion of Mong men wherever they go. It captivates people with its sweet sound and can produce heart-breaking melodies when seeing off someone who has died.”

Today, not many young Mong men care about dancing and playing the pan-pipe. Mrs. Chua opened classes to inspire Mong men to play the pan-pipe and preserve the culture. “At the beginning, I asked people to teach the pan-pipe but they refused because it brought them no profit. I persuaded them that if they taught children the pan-pipe, we could be invited to Hanoi and other provinces. We are teaching people from 15 to 20 years old when we don’t have to work.”

Over the last 10 years, Mrs. Chua has collected old utensils of the Mong, opened pan-pine class, and taught Mong women to grow flax, weave, and make traditional clothes. Chua again: “Why can flax be used to make beautiful brocade? Why can other people export their brocade products? I tell them that only passionate people can make it.”

Mrs. Chua’s wish is that the Mong culture will never fall into oblivion and that Mong children will always know about their roots.