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Nha Nhac: Everything Royal

The Royal Refined Music of Vietnam received the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity award by UNESCO on November 7, 2003. This was the first ever title to be awarded to any body.

The Royal Refined Music was first established in the 13th century as an “official form of royal music.” It was also recognized as a form of communication to the gods and kings to show respect. It reached its height during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty wherein it became the icon of a strong, long-standing monarchy.

It was a vital part of any ceremony in the imperial courts, in fact played in almost 100 different celebrations such as religious festivals, anniversaries, and other important occasions. And it is because of this rich history and pure elegance that Vietnam’s royal music earned such a distinguished title from an equally prominent body.

Royal Refined Music has different themes to express its purpose. But it is considered to be of a higher artistic value compared to other forms of art also because of its strong political power and financial capacity to gather all the best composers and players in the country into one event and transform them into professional artists in the future. In fact, after receiving the award, all performances of the group have become international, played in what are considered “highly cultured” countries as France and Belgium, just to name some.

Aside from music, food during the Nguyen Dynasty was also considered royal, showcasing how the monarchy lived in such opulence and extravagance. To emphasize, King Tu Duc (1848-1883) had at every meal, 50 dishes cooked by 50 chefs served by 50 servants and 50 artists to play music and dance while he ate.

Today, the “Royal meal” has become like an integral part of Vietnam’s culture, with a “Royal meal tour” offered to tourists for a one-of-a-kind experience. The unique tour is spearheaded by and takes about two and a half hours of fun learning.


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