Binh Dinh museum features beauty of classical operas

Binh Dinh museum is home to a collection of Vietnam's largest drama masks used in tuong, an operatic art genre.

The museum in the south-central town of Quy Nhon, capital of Binh Dinh Province, has over 10,000 artifacts related to local history and culture. They include relics of the Cham culture and others dating from the post-Stone Age period to modern times.

It also has Vietnam’s largest tuong masks measuring 3 meters high and 2.1 meters wide. The three classical masks represent the faces of famous characters from Vietnamese classical operas.

The museum has a separate section on the traditional culture of Binh Dinh where the most prominent exhibit is a glass cabinet showcasing tuong costumes.

In addition to the giant masks displayed in the exterior of the museum, there are 30 normal-sized masks inside along with other props like weapons, musical instruments and a statue of Dao Tan, the renowned late musician who shaped tuong in Binh Dinh into its current complete form.

Binh Dinh is considered a cradle of the art, also known as hat boi.

Experts point out that hat boi, as it is called in the north, is representative of the country’s history of expansion. It includes elements of Cham music, with certain singing styles adopted particularly to express melancholy and related emotions, and the high-pitched singing voices of the Chinese community for cheerful tones. 

Binh Dinh hat boi was recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014.

Another form of singing art in Binh Dinh involves dancing with 38 patterned wooden sticks. A number of musical instruments and artifacts belonging to well-known artists are also displayed here.

The art was recognized by UNESCO in 2018 as a representative of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The province's traditional martial arts is also featured in the museum. It was recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2012 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

There is a set of eight traditional martial arts weapons consisting of 18 pieces and photos of martial artists showing off their moves.

The museum has the province's traditional non ngua hat, an accessory used by local nobility that appeared more than 300 years ago.

Pottery items salvaged from the sea and Thi Nai lagoon in Quy Nhon as proof of the thriving ceramic trade in Binh Dinh Province dating from the Cham period around the 11th century.

The place has a large collection of Cham sculptures from the 12th century.

The museum is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, except Mondays. Admission costs VND10,000 ($0.4).