Four Palaces Show Hanoi (Tu Phu) - A Journey Into Viet's Worship of Mother Goddesses

Duc - October 28, 2018

Four Palaces Show Hanoi was directed by Việt Tú, a famous director of Contemporary Theatrics in Vietnam. “Tứ Phủ|Four Palaces” is a uniquely creative and artistically inspired work of art. The show is based on folklore materials on the Viet beliefs of the worship of Mother Goddesses.

On 1st of December, 2016 the beliefs of Mother Goddesses Worship were inscribed on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The recognition of UNESCO not only contributes to enhance the position and role of this heritage in society, but also makes the community, the practitioners of the heritage to be more aware of Mother Goddess religion so that they are proud and more active in protection and promotion of this spiritual ceremony

 

 

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

Mother Goddess of Heaven (center) in her featured red costume giving her special hand signal to start the performance

Four Palaces” simply means the belief in the worship of Four Mother Goddesses, including Mother Goddess of Heaven, Mother Goddess of Forest, Mother Goddess of Water and Mother Goddess of Earth.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were the most flourishing periods of Mother Goddess religion in Viet folklore. There are times when Mother Goddess religion is considered as a manifestation of superstition and thus prohibited.  However, the rituals of “Tứ Phủ” (Four Palaces), known by several other names, for instance, Tứ Phủ Công Đồng or Four Palaces Council, hát văn, chầu thánh, etc., still have a remarkable presence and strong reflection in Viet folk arts for several reasons:

  1. Four Palaces is considered as a medium of lively communication of humans with Gods or Saints, divine beings who are familiar to Vietnamese both spiritually and in real life. The communications are organized as rituals by psychics or mediums who play roles of middlemen connecting people to divines.  As such, it connected with Vietnamese in general.
  2. Four Palaces is a lively form of art which collected many materials of folk arts, for example, hát chầu văn or chầu thánh (a traditional folk art which combines trance singing and dancing) and rites (ceremonies) as well as music with drum, flute and folk instruments; ritual dancing, rites of hầu đồng (hiển thánh) or ritual dress of sorceresses, etc.

Tứ Phủ| Four Palaces is highly attractive, not only because it is very colorful and lively, but also because it is unfeigned and completely reflects the Viet spiritual life as well as folk art and culture in Vietnam.

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

The Second Lady of Highlands representing the Mother Goddess of Highlands in her distinguished green costume

Based on the unique attraction of Tứ Phủ or Four Palaces Religion, Director Việt Tú has nurtured an idea of reconstituting the rituals of Four Palaces Religion into a unique show of contemporary art since 2013. He hopes that the show will become one of the cultural products of tourism, that will expose tourists all over the world to Vietnam.

Four Palaces Show Hanoi is reconstituted creatively with all the sounds of modern art including: video art, performance art and many other stage effects, which are applied cleverly to achieve a seamless effect and unified creativity.

The combined factors of high interactivity and hyperspace of art in Tứ Phủ, together with the lighting, music, vocals, clothing and time or performance space with wonderful locations, make it a very high ranking and one of the most favored cultural shows for tourism to Hanoi.

II.1. CHẦU VĂN – VIETNAMESE RITUAL SINGING

Cung văn or singers are usually elderly artisans

Chầu văn, known as hầu đồng singing in folklore, plays a special role and grows strongly in the Viet spiritual life. It’s a kind of music, used in rites of hầu đồng – the practices relating to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Four Realms (Mother Goddesses Worship Religion) and the beliefs of Worshipping Trần Saint (Đức thánh Trần).

Hầu đồng singing or hát văn, chầu văn, hát bóng… is full of significance about the spirit of traditional Vietnamese and originated in the Northern Delta of Vietnam.

The ancient Vietnamese worshipped:

  • Heaven, Earth and Water or Thiên Phủ (Heaven Realm)
  • Địa phủ (Earth realm)
  • Thoải phủ (Water Realm).

After that, in the Le dynasty, because of the appearance of Liễu Hạnh or Mother Liễu, who was in The Four Immortals and ancestral tablet in Mother Goddesses Religion, there was one more realm, Nhạc Phủ (Forest Realm) with the symbolic color of green. Moreover, the symbolic colors of Thiên phủ, Thoải phủ, Địa phủ one after another are red, white and yellow.

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

The Little Fairy of Highlands always shares the God's offering for audiences at the end of the performance

In Mother Goddesses Religion, gods and saints have no body and appearance but “soul” only. In rites of hầu đồng, mediums wallow in ritual music in an intoxicating state and wait for divinities to entrance them.

Chầu văn or hầu đồng, which almost all people, both rich and poor, are interested in, is a typical rite of Mother Goddesses Religion in Vietnam. It’s also a general form of folk art that requires investment and very meticulously preparation in lyrics, music, dance, and clothing by organizers. Its mysterious beauty of spirit and exciting feel of both singers and audience make people forget their miseries in daily life.

II.2. SOMETHING ABOUT REINCARNATION IN MEDIUMSHIP

Reincarnation in mediumship or ritual dancing play a very important role in this rite. There are 72 reincarnations of mediumship, including:

  • Reincarnation of Great Madarins
  • Reincarnation of Attendants
  • Reincarnation of Ladies of Honor
  • Reincarnation of Royal Damsels.

Each one has a different dance in proportion. In the ritual, mediums can close or open their eyes but have to concentrate to express the character or life of the divinity reincarnating. There usually are two assistants, Quỳnh and Quế, who follow the medium to prepare clothing. It’s necessary for them to conduct the rituals uninterrupted between reincarnations of two spirits. Dances are also different and depend on each reincarnation. Sometimes, mediums play the role of an august madarin, other times, they are a girl running here and there.

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

The Tenth Prince has a flag dance

Reincarnations of Great Madarins usually have fencing dances or flag dances. Reincarnations of Ladies of Honor use fan dances or just hand dances that are very beautiful. Reincarnations of Ten Princes have turban dances or flag dances.

The most beautiful and favorite are fan dances and flower dances or pilot dances, silk scarf dances, embroidery dances in reincarnations of Royal Damsels while reincarnations of Attendants are interesting because of its childishness and elfness with lion’s dances.

Rituals of hầu đồng take place in an order of reincarnation from high to low. So, dances also change from majestic style into flexible and gradually cheerful at the end.

II.3. MOTHER GODDESS RELIGION AND THE BELIEFS OF MOTHER GODDESS WORSHIP IN VIET SPIRITUAL CULTURE

Mother Goddess Religion is an indigenous belief and originated in the old days when The Mothers were known as Creators who maintained universe and supported human beings. People gave them all their wishes and hope for luck, health and success.

Mother Goddess Religion is not a homogeneous belief or religion. It’s a system of beliefs with 3 classes, which are different but relate and affect each other, included:

  • The belief of Nymph Worship
  • The belief of Worshipping Mothers of the country
  • The belief of Mother Goddess of Three or Four Realms Worship.

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

Ancient bronze statue of Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh (center)

The belief of Nymphs Worship had general, overview traits that were suitable for an agricultural society where women played a very important role in real life. The belief of  Worshipping Mothers of Country has grown on a basis of the first class.

If the first and the second classes had native traits of country then the third class - the belief of Worshipping Mother Goddesses of Three or Four Realms was based on the classes above. Moreover, it was under influence of Taoism in China as well. However, it has gradually come back to the typical traits of a native belief by time.

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

The Second Lady of Highlands dancing with her pink leather fans

It is almost said that the belief of Mother Goddesses Worship is a folklore belief with some typical traits, for example:

  • Mother Goddesses Worship was founded in the Matriarchy when people worship Nymphs or Mother Goddesses.
  • Mother Goddesses Worship has not enough required criteria in order to form a formal religion.
  • In the Mother Goddesses Worship, the faith depends a lot on personal feeling of the faithful, that means each has their own belief, not a part of the system.

Nowadays, people have no ideas where the belief of the Mother Goddesses Worship started in Viet's spiritual culture. Some think that it may have started when Vietnamese had to face to natural factors that couldn’t be controlled in their living. They considered all of the natural phenomena as Creators in a model of Mother Goddesses and worshipping them in the hope of being supported and protected all life.

It is known in another way as the belief of Mother Goddesses of Three or Four Palaces Region Worshipping, type of worshiping the Mother Goddesses, who rule/manage the universe.

Temples of Mother Goddesses are located all over the country from delta or plain areas to highland or mountains, both in Vietnam and overseas. In some areas, people built splendid temples, in some other places, they just built normal pagodas, small temples…Sometimes, you just realize signs of the belief of Mother Goddesses Worship through specific traits in the architecture of temples or in altar sections. All those specific traits are parts of components formed a type of a native belief in Vietnam

  • Location: 42 Trang Tien st, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi
  • Showtime: Thu - Sat every week; Time 1: 18h00 - 18h45; Time 2: 19h30 - 19h45
  • Duration: 45 Minutes
  • Price tickets/Entrance fees:

Four Palaces Show Hanoi

Four Palaces Show Hanoi-

  • Free ticket for children ages up to 5 or less than 1m tall but they have the same seat as their parents.
  • All children age above 6 or taller than 1m must have a ticket as adult tickets.

       1. In June, 2018:

  • Enter code VIP199 when booking to buy the VIP ticket at promotional price 199,000VND/ticket (original price 295,000VND/ticket)
  • Promotion can be applied when booking ticket via our official website or purchasing ticket at Cong Nhan Theatre, 42 Trang Tien street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Promotion can be applied for all schedules in June, 2018

       2. In June, July, August & September, 2018:

  • Enter code BUY3GET1 to receives 1 FREE ticket for purchase of 4 tickets
  • Promotion can only be applied when purchasing VIP ticket (original price 295,000VND)
  • Promotion can be applied when booking ticket via our official website or purchasing ticket at Cong Nhan Theatre, 42 Trang Tien street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi

NOTE: Two promotions above cannot be applied at the same time.

  • Phone:  8490 219 5650 (VI) or: 8490 703 3553 (EN)
  • Email: info@viettheatre.com - ticket@viettheatre.com

III. 2. Local tips:

  • Recommended time: all the showtime
  • Dresscode: casual

III.3. How to get there

  • From Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square -> Le Thai To -> Trang Tien you will see the theatre on your left.
  • You don't need to take to take a bus to get there it is only about 20-minute walk (1,2 km)

Besides Water Puppet Show, please take your time to enjoy Four Palaces Show Hanoi.