The art of mask painting for tuong, a new street performance at Hue Festival
Thanh Binh Tu Duong (Thanh Bình Ancestral Worship Hall) was built in the 5th year of Minh Mang’s era (1825) to worship those who were deified as Saints, Fairies and Founding Fathers, and those who had big contributions to tuong Hue and tuong in Central Vietnam. Every year, the ceremony takes place here on the 14th of lunar July, which is Sept. 1 this year.
At Thanh Binh Tu Duong from 7:00am to 8:00am is the ceremony to pay tribute to the founding father of tuong. The rituals are conducted in accordance with the formalities of the ceremony. An essay honoring the father of tuong and about the history of Thanh Binh Tu Duong is recited.
The ceremony is followed from 8:00am-8:30am by a procession that carries tuong masks from Chi Lang St. to Tran Hung Dao St., to Le Duan and stops at Nghinh Luong Dinh (Royal Boathouse).
At Nghinh Luong Dinh, excerpts from well-known plays such as Trống Hội Tuồng đồ, Ác Thiện Ẩn Hình, Mộc Quế Anh dâng Cây Giáng Hương Long, Mạnh Lương Trộm Ngựa are performed and Flower Dance ends the show.
After the performance at Nghinh Luong Dinh from 9:30, people gather again for another procession from Le Duan St. to Quang Duc Gate, to August 23 St., to Hien Nhon Gate and ends at Duyet Thi Duong (Royal Theater).
This is a procession of over 200 actors, musicians and artists, divided into 3 groups. In different traditional costumes, they hold ornaments, carry palanquins, gongs and drums. Together with them are royal music bands, Bat Dat dancers and tuong characters.
The highlight of the procession is the group of about 100 tuong characters wearing different costumes and masks to create a vivid and colorful picture about this popular art of the old days.
Hopefully these activities will create a joyful street performance that introduces and honors the heritage of tuong Hue. At the same time, it can be an interesting experience for tourists who visit Hue and attend Hue Festival.
Story and photo: Hai Trung