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Unique sitting tug-of-war game

Last update: 14:38 | 08/04/2019

The sitting tug-of-war game, a folk game during the festivals and rituals at Tran Vu temple in Thach Ban ward, Long Bien district, in Hanoi, was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.




On the morning of April 7 (the third day of the third lunar month), Thach Ban ward organised a ceremony to receive UNESCO’s certificate recognising the traditional sitting tug-of-war game of Tran Vu temple as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Tran Vu Temple Festival is held on the third day of the third lunar month every year to show the respect of people towards the gods and reflecting the dreams and aspirations of people for a peaceful life.

Before the sitting tug-of-war competition, teams offered incense at Tran Vu temple. At the ritual offering, it is indispensable to offer a pig’s head and steamed glutinous rice.

The three team leaders are implementing the ritual of lifting the rattan, which used as the rope in the sitting tug-of-war game.

The members of three teams are carrying the rope to the stadium.


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Each team includes 15, 17 or 19 members depending on each year and team leader.


The pole in the middle symbolises the linga, or male virility and the tugging back and forth denotes the longing for growing and bumper crops, so the participants are very happy and enthusiastic about joining the game.


In the game, two teams sit on the ground and tug a rope over 30 metres long that is passed through a hole in a wooden pole fixed firmly in the ground.


Crowds of people cheer on the teams.

The game symbolises the desire of farmers for good luck, bumper crops and favourable weather conditions. It also reinforces and renews social relationships and strengthens communal solidarity. Therefore, the focus is not on winning but on thoroughly enjoying the game.



Nhan Dan

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