Archive for Bai Yueh

12 Sources: An Annotated Bibliography on the Hundred Viets (Bach Viet/Baiyue)

Posted in Ancient History, Annotated Bibliography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2020 by Ian Pham
Photo by Hugo Heimendinger on Pexels.com*

Introduction:

The following is a collection of sources and excerpts I selected which talk about the ancient ancestors of the Vietnamese people, known in history as the “Hundred Viets” race (Bach Viet/Baiyue).

My original plan was to present the sources in my standard blog format, which is to write about each topic individually, one article at a time. I still intend to do that, so anyone who enjoys my history articles will still have that to look forward to.

At the same time, however, there is so much information that I would like you all to be aware of and see as soon as possible. That way, you know that the information exists, and if you wanted to do a little exploration of your own into our ancient and glorious past, then you can.

That is why I’ve compiled this short list of academic sources about the Hundred Viets. The following are some excellent excerpts quoted directly from the works themselves. They provide some detail into the ancient roots of the Vietnamese people, further demonstrating that Vietnamese history is pretty awesome.

The sources are not organized in alphabetical order, but rather in the order that I believe will make the most sense to the reader and help them see the big picture.

I hope you enjoy this read, and that you find it helpful in discovering and understanding the rich heritage of the Vietnamese people.

Brace yourself, though. It’s a longer read.

Word count: 2709**

Estimated reading time: 15-19 minutes

*photos in this article are presented primarily for aesthetic purposes, and, while they could be, are not necessarily related to the topics discussed
**word count does not include the standard bibliography at the end of the article (word count with bibliography: 2955)

1. Murphey, Rhoads. East Asia: A New History, Fifth Edition. Boston: Longman. 2010.

The Yue kingdom had included the related people and culture of what is now northern Vietnam… In Han times, the southern people and culture of Yue were regarded as foreign and were in fact very different from those of the north. More than traces of these differences remain even now, including the Cantonese language and cuisine… The people and culture of Vietnam were still more different, and they regained their independence from China after the fall of the Han. (Murphy 2010: 60)

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

The name Viet (Yue in Chinese) derives from the name of an ancient kingdom that existed during the Warring States Period (sixth to third centuries BCE) on the southeastern coast of what is now China. The name came to be applied by the ancient Chinese to peoples on their southern frontier… Nam Viet (Chinese Nan Yue, meaning “South Viet”) was the name of an ancient kingdom in southern China. (Murphey 2010: 188)

Chronology…

  • … 220 BCE: Qin conquer northern Vietnam kingdom of Yue
  • … 111 BCE to 220 CE: Han conquest of Yue, northern Vietnam

(Murphy 2010: 189)

2. Holcombe, Charles. A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011.

The new nineteenth-century name Vietnam was consciously intended to evoke the memory of an ancient (208-110 BCE) kingdom called Southern Viet (pronounced Nam Viet in Vietnamese). Because the capital of that ancient Southern Viet kingdom had been located at the site of the modern city of Guangzhou (in English, Canton), in China, however, nineteenth-century Vietnam was obviously somewhat further south… The reason, then, why the capital of the ancient kingdom of Southern Viet was… located north of modern Vietnam in what is now China, was because the very earliest Bronze Age kingdom called Viet (in Chinese, Yue 越), from which all of these names presumably ultimately derived, had been located even further north, in the vicinity of the modern Chinese Province of Zhejiang, almost halfway up the coast of what is today China! Early Chinese texts, in fact, referred to most of what is now southeast China as the land of the “Hundred Viets.” (Holcombe 2011: 9)

3. Nguyen, Dieu Thi. “A mythographical journey to modernity: The textual and symbolic transformations of the Hung Kings founding myths.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, no. 2 (2013): 315-37.

The origin or founding myth of Vietnam is ‘Truyen Hong Bang’ (The tale of Hong Bang)… According to the tale, King Kinh Duong, who belonged to the bloodline of the Northern Than Nong (in Chinese Shen Nung, or the Divine Farmer) on his paternal side, and to the Immortals on his maternal side, ruled over the Southern realm named Xich Qui Quoc (The Red-haired Devils’ Realm)… During a journey to the Water Realm, Kinh Duong married a Dragon Spirit, who gave birth to one son, Sung Lam, also known as Lac Long Quan (Dragon Lord of the Lac)… The Dragon Lord met Au Co, an Immortal from the Mountainous Realm, and was smitten by her beauty… The quoc dan (realm’s people) over which they ruled were known as the Bach Viet (One hundred Viet), noted for their custom of tattooing as taught by their Dragon Lord-Father to ward off crocodiles and other aquatic creatures. (Nguyen 2013: 318-19)

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4. Cameron, Judith. “Textile Crafts in the Gulf of Tongking: The Intersection Between Archeology and History.” In The Tongking Gulf Through History, edited by Nola Cooke, Li Tana, and James A. Anderson: 25-38. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2011.

According to Vietnamese folk history, the earliest groups in the Red River region had no knowledge of spinning and weaving until the time of the Hùng kings, the first indigenous chiefdom centered on the Red River valley. It was ruled by kings who claimed descent from a heroic ancestor, the Lạc dragon lord, who had come from the sea, subdued evil elements in the region, and civilized the people by teaching them to cultivate rice and weave clothes. (Cameron 2011: 31)

The spinning and weaving data from these excavations provide firm evidence for the introduction of textile technology into the Red River valley by late prehistoric groups belonging to the Tanshishan culture (probably Yue) from Fujian Province. (Cameron 2011: 30-37)

5. Milburn, Olivia. “A Virtual City: The ‘Records of the Lands of Yue’ and the Founding of Shaoxing.” Oriens Extremus, vol. 46 (2007): 117-46.

The city of Shaoxing 紹興, in what is now northern Zhejiang province, is one of China’s oldest recorded planned cities. At the time of its foundation in 490 BCE, the city was intended to function as the capital city of the independent and culturally distinct kingdom of Yue 越, at that time on the southern edge of the Chinese world. It was laid out by order of King Goujian of Yue 越王勾踐 (r. 496-465 BCE), the most famous monarch of that kingdom, who played a crucial role in the political life at the very end of the Spring and Autumn period (771-475 BCE). (Milburn 2007: 117)

There are fundamental problems with understanding any Yue text, in that many aspects of the cultural and linguistic background are unknown, and completely different from those recorded in other ancient Chinese texts. ” (Milburn 2007: 118)

It was only towards the end of the Spring and Autumn period that the people of the Zhou confederacy began to become aware of the Yue peoples in the south. The Yue peoples, related culturally and linguistically but not politically (and indeed often at war with each other) stretched along the coast from what is now southern Jiangsu province down the coast to northern Vietnam. (Milburn 2007: 118)

Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

Every reference in ancient Chinese texts to the people of the south, particularly to the kingdom of Yue, spoke of their unusual appearance and strange customs. The people of Yue were regarded as alien by the inhabitants of the Central States since they wore their hair cut short and they were tattooed. In addition to that they were a riverine and coastal people, travelling by boat rather than by horse and cart. They were highly bellicose, with a reputation for great bravery. This was enhanced by the widespread use in Yue culture of swords, generally admitted to be of unparalleled quality. To the people of the Central States (whose records provide virtually everything that is known of the Yue people prior to the archaeological discoveries of the last half century), the Yue were exotic and dangerous. (Milburn 2007: 119)

6. Hartmann, John, Wei Luo, Fahui Wang, and Guanxiong Wang. “Sinification of Zhuang place names in Guangxi, China: a GIS-based spatial analysis approach.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, no. 2 (2012): 317-33.

Zhuang, the largest minority language in China, is the label given to a variety of Tai languages and dialects spoken mostly in Guangxi. As a result of the process known as Sinification or Sinicisation stemming from the influx of Han soldiers and settlers moving in from many directions, but primarily the north, many Zhuang place names (toponyms) were changed to Han or pronounced with a Han accent or spelled in Chinese in such a way as to obscure the original Zhuang form. (Hartmann et al. 2012: 317)

The origin of the Zhuang can be traced to the ‘Baiyue’ peoples in southern China, recorded in history as early as in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (475-221 BC) (e.g. Pan 2005). Historically, the Zhuang were farmers who specialised in growing rice in irrigated fields called naa in Zhuang languages. They lived primarily in thousands of villages or small towns in the lowlands close to rivers and streams that were dammed to divert water into the naa. The history of the Zhuang, like other minorities in Chinese frontier regions (e.g. Herman 2007), is marked by a relentless series of violent conflicts with their northern neighbour, the Han (the Chinese majority). (Hartmann et al. 2012: 318)

7. Fu, Songbin, Pu Li, Xiangning Meng, and Yali Xue. “Study on the Distribution of the ‘MSY2’ Polymorphism in 9 Chinese Populations.” Anthropologischer Anzeiger, h. 1 (2005): 23-27.

The Buyi, who came from the ancient “Baiyue” and had the same predecessor with the Zhuang, were relatively closed by living in plains isolated by mountains. (Fu et al. 2005: 26)

8. Weinstein, Jodie L. Empire and Identity in Guizhou: Local Resistance to Qing Expansion. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2014.

In northwestern Guizhou, the Lolo, known today as the Yi predominated, interspersed with small settlements of Han immigrants and Miao. The southwest had a high concentration of Zhongjia (Buyi)… (Weinstein 2014: 17)

To begin answering the question “Who are the Zhongjia?” it will be useful to first examine some modern demographic and ethnographic data. As noted earlier, the Zhongjia have been called the Buyi since 1953. Numbering around 2.9 million, the Buyi today constitute the eleventh-largest minority nationality in the People’s Republic of China. (Weinstein 2014: 19)

Photo by Q. Hung Pham on Pexels.com

The Buyi represent one of many Tai groups in southern China and Southeast Asia… Their closest kin in both ethnolinguistic and geographic terms are the Northern Zhuang, a subgroup within the much larger Zhuang nationality that is found mostly in Guangxi… The Buyi and Northern Zhuang share so many cultural and linguistic similarities that it is impossible to study one group without reference to the other… More distant relatives of the Buyi include the Southern Zhuang of Guangxi and the Nung and Tay of Vietnam. The Buyi also share some cultural and linguistic features with the Dai of southern Yunnan as well as the Thai, Lao, and Shan populations of mainland Southeast Asia. Their extended ethnic family also includes the Dong (Kam), Shui, and Maonan ethnic groups dispersed throughout Guizhou, Guangxi, and Hunan, and the Li of Hainan. (Weinstein 2014: 19)

Archeological findings, linguistic data, and DNA evidence suggest that these Tai-speaking populations all descended from the Hundred Yue (Baiyue) peoples who occupied a vast area of eastern, central, and south- ern China as early as 2000 B.C.E. Two Baiyue civilizations in particular have been linked to the Buyi of Guizhou and their Zhuang neighbors. The Buyi and Northern Zhuang seem to share ancestral ties to the Xi’ou people who inhabited the West River basin along Guangxi’s present-day border with Guangdong. The Southern Zhuang, along with the closely related Nung and Tay, may have descended from the Luoyue people who lived in the area extending from Guangxi’s current provincial capital of Nanning to the Red River basin of northern Vietnam. Like their contemporaries in other Yue societies, the inhabitants of Xi’ou and Luoyue relied primarily on rice farming and other agricultural activities for their livelihood. (Weinstein 2014: 19-20)

9. Ruan, Xing. Allegorical Architcture: Living Myth and Architectonics in Southern China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2006.

The Dong are an ancient but little-known ethnic group who today number more than 2.9 million, a little less than the population of, say, Jamaica. All existing historical records on the Dong are in Chinese, which, as mentioned earlier, was based on various “travel notes” from adventurous Han literati like Lu You. (Ruan 2006: 14)

Photo by Thach Tran on Pexels.com

Generally speaking, the Dong are believed to have originated from a branch of the ancient Luoyue, who are known to have lived in Guizhou at the end of the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220). The Luoyue were native people of the area now inhabited by the Dong. The historically recorded Luoyue customs—tattoos, bronze drums, men and women bathing together in rivers, and the like—are still alive in today’s Dong social life. In some places, even mountains and clans are named Luo. Through time, the ancient Baiyue migrated into this region, mingling with the native population. Other propositions regarding the origins of the Dong associate them with the ancient Yue, the Ouyue, the Ganyue, the Jinyue, and others. In all of these cases, the Dong are thought to have derived from these people. (Ruan 2006: 22)

10. Wang, Feng. “Report of Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics (2012).” Journal of Chinese Linguistics, no. 1 (2013): 246-53.

How to draw genetic trees of languages is an important area where methods and information from mathematics can be brought into evolutionary linguistics… Deng Xiaohua of Xiamen University applied molecular anthropology and lexicostatistics to obtain a genetic tree of Austronesian languages in Taiwan. Based on the analysis of this tree, the BaiYue-Austronesian group was thought to be formed around 4000 B.P. in southeastern China. (Wang 2013: 251)

11. Bush, Richard C. Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. 2005.

In May 2001, scientists in Taiwan announced the results of research on the genetic origins of the island’s Minnan (southern Fujian) majority. This is the part of the population known as Taiwanese, as opposed to mainlanders, Hakkas, and aborigines. The researchers found that they were in fact descended from the Yueh people, who were scattered along the southeastern coast of China during the later Zhou dynasty (770–221 B.C.). The political implication: Taiwanese were not ethnically Chinese.  (Bush 2005: 225)

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Not to be outdone, PRC researchers announced in December 2001 that four aboriginal groups in Taiwan exhibited a specific chromosomal pattern characteristic of the Li ethnic group on Hainan Island and that all five groups were descended from the Baiyue people of eastern China. The Baiyue were said to have migrated to both Hainan and Taiwan, where they maintained the same lifestyle and customs. The Chinese message: even Taiwan’s aborigines had a connection with the mainland.  (Bush 2005: 225)

12. He, Yinan. “Competing Narratives, Identity Politics, and Cross-Strait Reconciliation.” Asian Perspective, no. 4 (2010): 45-83.

On prehistoric Taiwan, three theoretical models exist in the academic debate: theories of southern origin, arguing that Taiwan’s aborigines are the carriers of the Austronesian languages who originally lived on the islands in Southeast Asia and moved to Taiwan; theories of northern origin contending that the aborigines are descendants of the ancient Baiyue (hundreds of Yue tribes), people who came from southern China, although the Yue people remaining in China have since been assimilated by the Han; and theories suggesting that Taiwan is the land of the Austronesian languages and center of the southern islands culture. (He 2010: 50)

Two pieces of news caught peoples’ eyes in 2001. First, two students of Fudan University compared the gaoshanzu with the osseous remains found in a Yue relic in Maqiao, near Shanghai, and claimed that their chromosome match was 50 percent or more. In the other report, the Institute of Genetics of the Chinese Academy of Science concluded that the Li minorities living in Hainan Island today share ancestors with four gaoshanzu groups because their chromosome type is the same as the Baiyue people in Zhejiang province but differs from Southeast Asian people. (He 2010: 51)

Conclusion:

That’s all (for now), folks! As you can see, the Vietnamese people have an ancient ancestry. Our influence vast, and our historical impact immense. Hope you enjoyed the read.

Bibliography (standard and alphabetical):

Bush, Richard C. Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. 2005.

Cameron, Judith. “Textile Crafts in the Gulf of Tongking: The Intersection Between Archeology and History.” In The Tongking Gulf Through History, edited by Nola Cooke, Li Tana, and James A. Anderson: 25-38. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2011.

Fu, Songbin, Pu Li, Xiangning Meng, and Yali Xue. “Study on the Distribution of the ‘MSY2’ Polymorphism in 9 Chinese Populations.” Anthropologischer Anzeiger, h. 1 (2005): 23-27.

Hartmann, John, Wei Luo, Fahui Wang, and Guanxiong Wang. “Sinification of Zhuang place names in Guangxi, China: a GIS-based spatial analysis approach.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, no. 2 (2012): 317-33.

He, Yinan. “Competing Narratives, Identity Politics, and Cross-Strait Reconciliation.” Asian Perspective, no. 4 (2010): 45-83.

Holcombe, Charles. A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011.

Milburn, Olivia. “A Virtual City: The ‘Records of the Lands of Yue’ and the Founding of Shaoxing.” Oriens Extremus, vol. 46 (2007): 117-46.

Murphey, Rhoads. East Asia: A New History, Fifth Edition. Boston: Longman. 2010.

Nguyen, Dieu Thi. “A mythographical journey to modernity: The textual and symbolic transformations of the Hung Kings founding myths.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, no. 2 (2013): 315-37.

Ruan, Xing. Allegorical Architecture: Living Myth and Architectonics in Southern China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2006.

Wang, Feng. “Report of Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics (2012).” Journal of Chinese Linguistics, no. 1 (2013): 246-53.

Weinstein, Jodie L. Empire and Identity in Guizhou: Local Resistance to Qing Expansion. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2014.

The History of the Hundred Việts

Posted in Ancient History with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by Ian Pham

Earlier this month, I presented the ancient Vietnamese legend of Lạc Long Quân, the Dragon Prince, in order to illustrate the origins of the Vietnamese people.  It chronicles the life of the Prince, his meeting with Âu Cơ the Fairy Princess, and the birth of their hundred sons.  These hundred sons would become known as the Hundred Việts, otherwise known as the Bách Việt, or Bai Yue civilization.

In turning our sights from the story of the Hundred Sons over to the history of the Hundred Việts, we have crossed the line from myth into reality.  The Hundred Việts were an actual people, who once inhabited the vast region now known as Southern China, as far back as 4000 B.C.  They were an agricultural people who engaged in farming, fishing, and the raising of animals.  The traditions of these people included dying their teeth to black, as well as the art of tattooing.

The culture of the Bách Việt people was rich with folklore, poetry, and humanistic teachings.  The system of government was at the village level, as many clans, tribes, and families cooperated with each other, with a king or village chief at the top.  It is from these numerous clans that the people, as a whole, became known in modern history as the Hundred Việts.  The main source of food for these societies was rice, as the rich fertile soil of the south made it perfect for rice cultivation.

In reality, there were about ten to twenty different clans, the name Bách Việt (Hundred Viet, Bai Yue), is just the general title to describe the society as a whole.  Bách Việt was a peaceful society that did not engage in warfare with other regions.  The philosophy of the Bai Yue always spoke of peace, compassion, and the importance of the human heart.  Unfortunately, due to their peaceful nature, the society became highly vulnerable to the nomadic tribes from the north, who raided and captured much of the Bách Việt’s land, along with their culture.

As a result of their peaceful ways and unpreparedness for combat, the clans of Âu Việt, Ư Việt, Hồ Việt, Mân Việt, Đông Việt, and many others, slowly fell to the northern invaders, one by one.  The invaders subsequently erased the history of these clans in order to assimilate them, a strategy that proved to be devastating to the people of Bách Việt.  The plans resulted in the vanishment of Việt culture for over two thousand years, only to be rediscovered in the 21st century.

Of the dozen Việt clans that existed throughout history, only one has prevailed in the face of northern aggression.  This one surviving clan, the one clan able to resist the relentless invasions of the north for more than 4000 years, is the clan of Lạc Việt.  The Lạc Việt clan was the main branch of the Hundred Viets, they were the most powerful, and the only clan equipped to fight back.

The descendants of the Lạc are the forefathers of Vietnam today, carrying on the traditions of a culture that has existed for more than 6000 years.  In distant history, they were the warriors of Nam-Việt, Jiaozhi, and then Đại Việt.  Today, they represent the 3 million people oversees, who live from places like Europe, to Australia, to North America.  They are also the 87 million inhabitants of Vietnam today, a population that is slowly preparing to fight for their freedom, no matter what the cost.