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Ao dai needs official heritage recognition

Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional long dress) has long been a traditional costume and a typical cultural feature of Vietnam. Through ups and downs with constant changes, ao dai still honours the gracefulness and elegance of Vietnamese women.

However, the dress has yet to be named in the list of national heritage though the inscription is the premise for building a dossier to seek UNESCO recognition of Ao dai as part of the world intangible cultural heritage.

The idea is not new, but has become urgent given recent cases when a foreign designer copied the Vietnamese traditional dress, or misconception of its origin.

Nguyen Phuong Nga, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UN from 2014 to 2018, said the gown has become part of the national soul anywhere, and it deserves to be honoured as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity as it represents traditional values of Vietnam as well as talents of local artisans.

To contribute to promoting Ao dai, the ambassador presented two Ao dai which she wore in diplomatic events to the Vietnam Women’s Museum.

According to Associate Prof. Dr. Bui Hoai Son, Director of the Vietnam Institute for Culture and Arts Studies, once Ao dai is recognised as national intangible cultural heritage, towards global status, its will be better known and Vietnam’s copyright on the dress will be affirmed.

Although Vietnamese people, both at home and abroad, and the international community are aware of ao dai belonging to Vietnam, it remains oral recognition.

Therefore, it is high time to build a dossier for the dress to be officially named as cultural heritage, nationally and globally, thus contributing to protecting the country’s cultural sovereignty.