Kite flute festival
The custom of playing kite flute during the Sao Den Kite Festival has been recognised as the National Intangible Cultural Heritage. Photo zing.vn

The festival, which takes place in Song An Commune, Vu Thu District, Thai Binh Province, is one of the region's major events.  

The commune is also home to the Sao (Flute) Temple – a national historic and cultural site, which hosts the Sao Temple Kite Festival annually.

Built in 1471, the Sao Temple honours Queen Mother Ngo Thi Ngoc Giao of King Le Thanh Tong (1442-97) and the three meritorious brothers and officials Dinh Le, Dinh Bo and Dinh Liet, who made great contributions to the establishment of the Earlier Le dynasty.

Kite flute festival
The Sao Den Kite Festival also features several rituals, including a parade of the Queen Mother’s palanquin. Photo dantri.com.vn

Every year, on the death anniversaries of those figures, descendants of Dinh Le, who was also a great general of the Le dynasty, commemorate him by flying kites. Legend has it that Gen Dinh Le used to encourage his soldiers to fly kites to combat the fatigue of battle.

Visitors to the Sao Temple can see a 400-year-old kite flute hanging above the solemn main altar – evidence that the locals regard the kite as a significant spiritual source.

 

The one-week festival, held from the 18th to the 28th day of the third lunar month, draws dozens of kite flute fliers and thousands of visitors from neighbouring areas.

Alongside a parade of the Queen Mother’s palanquin, the festival also features several contests or folk games such as cock fighting, swimming to catch ducks, and walking on a slender bamboo trunk supported by ropes over a pond.

The kite flute competition is the most anticipated event of the festival with many kite flyers from the region participating.

Kite flute festival
Every year, tens of kite flyers from the region participate the flute kite competition that has been held during the Sao Den Kite Festival. Photo zing.vn

The kite should measure at least 1.8m to be able to carry a flute made of bamboo and jackfruit wood, which is lighter than other kinds of wood. While a single kite flute produces only bass tones, a multiple flute kite can create various tones like an orchestra. VNS

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