International conference paper Bài chòi on Mat

Friday, September 13, 2019 10:26:36 AM


It is the folklore term defined long time ago by “Anh hiệu” (The announcer), which means Announcing bài chòi on a mat on the ground of wherever convenient to hold it. When BÀI CHÒI FESTIVAL held during 3 first days of Lunar New Year is over, the mat plays the role of the stage.

The forerunner of BÀI CHÒI ON MAT is BÀI CHÒI FESTIVAL. In Bài chòi festival, the “Announcer” func tions as an informer. The Announcer initially delivers the cards to players, then he randomly picks a card from the set of “Nọc – Tỳ” (the base card set) and announces the implication to the name of that card so that players can guess the name and recognize if they are holding the same-name card.

In the early days of this informative-transition play, the Announcer shouted only 5 words for a card. For instance: Announce! It is Mr. Thunder! ( The card about Mr. Thunder )
Or: Announce! It is four hooks! ( The card of four hooks ) .v.v. and other names in a set of 27 cards.

Year by year, players wanted some changes in both the content and the performance and they got the consent of the Announcers to invent new things.

- Step 1: Each name of the card can be implied by a sin-eight-word distich metre like:
“ Sitting yeah I am sitting….(Signal to start)
At the abyss and fishing,
My foot slips down to the abyss and it sounds like Thunder!
Announce! It is Mr. Thunder! ”
Or: “ How ridiculous it is…. (Signal to start)
How ridiculous the female butcher
Carrying the scale hook though her shoulders are already under heaviness
Announce! It is four hooks! .v.v.

The players appear to like this innovation since a card is now presented by a sin-eight-word distich metre telling the story of the contradictory life. The Annoucers, therefore, are likely promoted to have more creative announcements.

- Step 2: Many sin-eight-word distich metres constitute a song telling the updating stories of daily life – Experiences in daily life – Criticize bad habits – Praise the compassion adnd faithfulness of our forefather by folk tales and like “The apple does not fall far from the tree”, each poem telling a particular story but the Announcer can still rationalize the announcement according to name of the card so as to retain the joy of “BÀI CHÒI PLAY FESTIVAL”.
In terms of performance : in BÀI CHÒI FESTIVAL, only the “Announcer” tells the stories. He may add only few dramatic climaxes to the stories without violating the whole original content.

Distinguished guests – Since the announcement of only 5 words adapted those 2 steps of changes, the Announcers supposedly form a group of bài chòi artitsts, who can take it their profession to earn money during the year – It is BÀI CHÒI ON MAT, also known as “Bài chòi peddle ”, which means they keep moving to many places holding bài chòi on mat to announce.

Disinguished guests – The higher the demand is, the higher the supply is to meet the demand – Though remaining the origin of BÀI CHÒI FESTIVAL, BÀI CHÒI ON MAT at present has the artistic complexity in the stories themselves with the NARRATIVE – TELLING and CHARACTER ACTING at the same time, but it concentrates more on the character acting to clearly express the characteristics, the contradictory actions. Though sometimes there is the convective character but normally there is only one person acting 2-3 characters by showing different expressions and manners.

The reasons why one person plays 2-3 characters are:

1. “Announcers” in bài chòi are entirely males. However, females are also a part of real life. Hence, male announcers must also take the role of female characters on the stage.

2. In fact, the earnings by announcing in BÀI CHÒI ON MAT is just little like “hunt, catch, pick" the food, which can never ensure enough finance for living if it must be devided to too many people. Thus, the GROUP OF BÀI CHÒI ON MAT consitsts maximum of about 3 performers and 2 instrumentalists. However, that one person plays many charateristics at a show really cheers the audience up. Regarding the art of announcement in BÀI CHÒI ON MAT, this is allegedly the GOLDEN TIME of the more and more delicate creativeness in melodies and rhythm refining. Firstly, the group of Announcers invented an unique rhythm to bài chòi - the 4/4 rhythm of which the main rhythm is played by 3 light beats along the singing. However, the process includes DEPARTURE, GOING and FINISH, which requires the signal given and understood by both instrumentalist and singer. The core that determines the winning and failure in this art is that the audience mostly enjoy BÀI CHÒI ON MAT when they incidentally stop by the mat or are taking rest. Hence, BÀI CHÒI ON MAT has to seize the chance to efficiently meet their demands – The instrumentalists also need to follow the content and make coherent rhythms and satisfactory tunes.

IN TERMS OF COSTUME : Costume in BÀI CHÒI ON MAT applies various colors onto a certain traditional clothes of “Bà ba” and head scarves... It is also easy for the performer to change the characters. Especially it is acceptable when the performer acting a male turning to a female character since “Bà ba” clothes can be wore by both genders. Moreover, there is the folklore understanding between the performers and the audience beside the mat which separates them.

Remarkably, each story of BÀI CHÒI ON MAT ends with the name of the card announced, but on MAT, the folk artist bows to the audience and waits for 3 first days of Lunar New Year to be the « Announcer » shouting the names of cards.
In short: BÀI CHÒI ON MAT effectively works thanks to the DEMAND – SUPPLY, which also turns the BÀI CHÒI “Announcer” to the creative folk artitst and marks the milestone of the more prosperous and abundant development of this truly folk art bài chòi.

Here is an extract from BÀI CHÒI ON MAT.



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