Expanse Community Connection, Promote Heritage Value

The Vietnamese Tug-of-war game and ritual, practiced in Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Ha Noi, Lao Cai, has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2015. To preserve and promote the heritage Values, Tug-of-war Communities need to have a more expansive connection as well as engagement.

Tug-of-war game and ritual in the Village Festival, Huu Chap Village, Hoa Long Ward, Bac Ninh City

Vietnamese Tug-of-war is not only a traditional game and a communal sport that showcase strength as well as solidarity, but also a piece of culture that stems from our religious and spiritual life. The Locals’ wishes for favorable weather and abundant harvests to the Gods as well as their ancestor is embedded into the game itself. Tug-of-war is popular in the Red River Delta, Midland, and the North Central of Vietnam but each community has its way of practicing this game and ritual, due to their historical and geological differences.


A prime example of this game is the Tug-of-war Festival in areas of the Vinh Phuc province during the Lunar New year. Without any discrimination and fierce competition regulations, Hoa Loan Village’s Tug-of-war Festival takes place from the 4th to the 8th day of the Lunar new year in honor of the female general Le Thi Ngoc Chinh. Ceremonies such as Rope Distribution, Sacral Ceremonies,… are performed accordingly to customs. This game carries our national cultural identity. It was meant for people of the working class, but nowadays, It has been able to attract a considerable number of tourists as well as locals to take part in. In this same period of Springtime, the Tug-of-war festival locally known as “Keo Song” is organized in Huong Canh Town, Binh Xuyen province. This Festival is held from the third to the fifth day of lunar January, simulating Ngo Quyen’s victory against the Southern Han’s army on Bach Dang River back in 938. The festival used to play out in the form of a military drill on the Cà Lồ river. This game originated from the local religious activity customs, in particular the strategy of using “Song” rope to adjust the war boat’s speed in harmony with the rise and fall of the river’s water levels. To this day, the game’s practice methods and ceremonies are kept intact


The Tug-of-war game and ritual is an Intangible Cultural Heritage that possessed expressive nuances as well as immense diversity. Some communities use rattan, some use bamboo or rope. Unlike most standing Tug-of-war games, people in Thach Ban ward, Long Bien district plays a game of sitting Tug-of-war at Tran Vu temple on the third day of lunar March. As a ritualistic game that carried spiritual and aspiring values, Tran Vu temples’ Tug-of-war festival bear unique religious cultural characteristics. Before the game, the teams bring offerings for the Holy Spirit in the temple yard. Each team varies from 13 to 19 members depending on the year.


Recently, to preserve and promote heritage values, Hanoi’s Department of Culture and Sport in cooperation with Vietnam’s Cultural Heritage Committee had organized the “Ceremonial Communities and Vietnamese Tug-of-war 2020” conference with the participation of researchers, cultures management representatives from tug-of-war communities such as Hươnh Canh town, Binh Xuyen province; Hoa Loan Village, Vinh Phuc province; Hữu Chấp Village, Bac Ninh City; Xuan Lai Village, Soc Son district; Thach Ban ward, Hanoi;… In the word of the president of Vietnam’s Cultural Heritage Committee, Mr. Đỗ Văn Trụ said: “ The registration of Vietnamese Tug-of-war into The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list shown UNESCO’s appreciation to our Heritage Value, that includes local residences and artisans – the ones who take care, preserve and promote heritage value”. 5 years after Unesco recognition, this is the first time for Tug-of-war Communities in Vietnam to finally meet. The president of The national front committee – Mr. Trần Minh express his wishes for Tug-of-war teams to have an annual or quartal meeting with the purpose to exchange experiences as well as enhancing their skills. All in agreement, representatives from these communities believe that Tug-of-war is not only a traditional game but also possessed a spiritual life, communal desires. Moreover, this game expresses a continuous connection through experience exchanges and engagements, maintaining a level of cultural diversity in our national identity.


Resulted from the conference, representatives have agreed to establish the Vietnamese Tug-of-war Heritage Communities Network Club in the pursuit of supporting communities’ ritual execution while maintaining the heritage’s vitality as promised to UNESCO. This establishment also serves as an exchange forum for the topic of better protection, promotion, and preservation of Vietnamese Tug-of-war heritage. This club will aid in the support of Vietnam to continue to identify and clarify hidden cultural characteristics as well as introducing and promoting the heritage value of The Tug-of-war game and ritual. Moreover, this will strengthen the exchange relations as well as the bond of Tug-of-war communities in Vietnam.