Archive for Vietnamese Folklore

The Culture of Vietnam: Lasting Through the Ages

Posted in Ancient History, Dynastic History, I. News, IV. Columns with tags , , on October 6, 2012 by Ian Pham

Our next topic of discussion involves three very different cultures: that of Vietnam, China, and Manchuria.  One culture, Manchu culture, serves its place in history as China’s invader and occupier.  The other culture, Vietnamese culture, acts as China’s eternal rival, and at one dark point in its history, as China’s prisoner.  Interestingly, the ones that acted as China’s overlords, the Manchus, would find their cultural heritage wiped from the face of the earth.  On the other hand, Vietnamese culture, though dominated by the Chinese for 1000 years, will prevail, even to this very day.

What makes Vietnam different from Manchuria?  How is it possible that the people of Vietnam, through 1000 years of occupation and assimilation from the invaders from the north, came to sustain their cultural and ethnic identity?  Furthermore, how did the Manchus, effectively dethroning the Ming in 1644 and ruled all of China until 1912, see their way of life, their language, and their culture vanish in less than 300 years?  The answer to this question, at least form my own analysis, is culture.

The three cultures mentioned above all varied in depth, richness, and sophistication.  Whichever culture to most strongly display these three qualities was more likely to last.  Unfortunately for the Manchus, their culture was the least likely to embody these qualities and, as a result, their culture was inevitably absorbed by the culture of the Han.  Though the Manchu started out as the foreign overlords of the Chinese empire, they would gradually and increasingly adapt the customs and practices of the Chinese.  Overtime, they would become Chinese themselves.  This is where Vietnam and Manchuria differentiate, and this is where Vietnam prevails.

Du Mien Le Thanh Hoa, the author of Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization suggests that Vietnam prevailed because of the strength of its culture.  According to him, Vietnam’s culture was simply higher than Chinese culture.  It was older, and more enshrined in the hearts and minds of the people of Viet.  Thus, even when facing the jarring threat of Chinese assimilation, the Viet people continued to practice their culture.  This persistence helped to safeguard the existence of Vietnamese culture.

Through all the hardship, Vietnam’s culture prevails, even to this day.  For thousands of years, our traditions have been upheld, our language preserved.  The legend of Lac Long Quan, the ancient folklore, and the songs of antiquity have been passed down from generation to generation.  These foundations remind us who we are, but more importantly, who we are not.  Through the darkest periods of foreign domination, our culture has kept us alive.  Our ways of life have lived through the ages, and today, they are more important than ever.

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Dragons and Fairies: The Legend of the Hundred Việts

Posted in Ancient History with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by Ian Pham

The following is a myth that chronicles the origin of the Vietnamese people.  It has been passed down from generations to generations, long preceding even the thousand years of Chinese occupation.  It is a cornerstone of Vietnamese culture, a foundation that has safeguarded the identity of the Vietnamese for many thousands of years.

This is a mythical tale, filled with magic and wonder, and should not be taken literally.  It is meant to paint a picture in your mind, giving you something to think about.  After this reading, you will understand why the Vietnamese people refer to themselves as the seeds of Dragons and the descendants of Fairies.  It’s also kind of a love story, if you’re into that sorta thing?

Happy Reading!

The Legend of Lạc Long Quân

Legend speaks of a man named Kinh Dương Vương (aka King Kinh Dương), a mythical figure that descended from a long line of dragons.  Long Nu, a female descendent of another dragon clan, was married to Kinh Dương Vương and gave birth to a boy named Lạc Long Quân.  As an immortal with the dragon lineage, Lạc Long Quân would be known as the Dragon Prince in Vietnamese history. As Lạc Long Quân matures, he meets a beautiful woman by the name of Âu Cơ, and falls deeply in love with her.

The story of their first meeting happens when the Dragon Prince notices a demonic bird chasing after a defenseless white crane.  Lạc Long Quân rushes to the crane’s defense, smashing the demon bird with a rock.  The demonic bird was so furious that it morphed itself into a tiger and bitterly tried to maul the Dragon Prince.  As a result, the Prince found himself tangled in a violent struggle against an adversary he did not know.

Lạc Long Quân prevails in the end, killing the demon and succeeding in his protection of the vulnerable white crane.  As the Dragon Prince would find out, things are not always as they seem.  The white crane was actually the beautiful Âu Cơ in disguise, trying to get away from the predatory abomination that was pursuing her.  Lạc Long Quân was pleasantly surprised to find this out and the two quickly become close.

Âu Cơ was an angelic beauty, a descendent of the fairies, and an immortal like Lạc Long Quân himself.  Together, the two would form a family, becoming the parents of one hundred sons.  With his wife Âu Cơ, Lạc Long Quân would preside over the mountains and rivers of the land.  Their children would carry the blood of the dragons and the charm of the fairies.

Sadly, as time went on, Âu Cơ starts to long for her home in the sky, while Lạc Long Quân begins to miss his life at sea.  As a result, the two lovers would separate.  Princess Âu Cơ would take fifty of the children and depart to the mountains, Lạc Long Quân in-turn would bring the other fifty sons to the coastal regions close to the seas.  These children, the seeds of the dragon clans, the descendants of the fairies, will inhabit the mountains and rivers of the south, becoming the originators of the Vietnamese people.

The Contents of “Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization”

Posted in Ancient History, Books, I. News with tags , , on June 13, 2010 by Ian Pham

The English and Vietnamese versions of "Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization." English edition translated by Dr. Joseph M. Vo.

Several weeks ago I announced the publication of the book Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilation.  I then stated that the book is a comprehensive account of Vietnamese history which covers the origins of the Vietnamese people.  However, after aquiring the book, I realized that this literary work is not a comprehensive book based on Vietnamese history through various time periods.  It is actually a book dedicated entirely to the origin of the Vietnamese people.  I finished reading the book just recently and what I learned from this book is literally groundbreaking!

The Author of "Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization," Mr. Du Mien Le Thanh Hoa.

For centuries, even up to present day, most historians believed that Vietnam was a country that found its origins in China, and that Vietnamese civilization was rooted in Chinese civilization.  This however, is a false allegation.  The findings in Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization not only falsifies this claim but also succeeds in explaining how Vietnamese civilization preceeded Chinese civilization.  Le Thanh Hoa, the author of Vietnam, clarifies the fact that the Lac Viet (ancient Vietnamese) were agricultural people with their own civilization and culture while the Chinese at the time were nomadic tribes who lived by hunting and raiding.  The nomadic tribes simply invaded the agricultural people, captured the culture of these people and claimed it as their own.  At the same time, the conquerers also tried to eradicate the Lac Viet, killing and erasing the old histories of the agricultural people in order to maintain their control.  It is for this reason that Vietnamese history has been so fragmented and rare, and why some sections of Chinese history contain so many loop holes and are widely debated among scholars.

Confucius himself admitted that his teachings came from the Viet people.

The authors of Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization not only derive their ideas from western and Vietnamese sources, but also take key ideas from ancient Chinese teachers such as Confucius and the famous historian Sima Qian. One of the most intriguing, not to mention shocking, discoveries made by Le Thanh Hoa’s research is that the thousand year teachings of the great Kong-tzu (Confucius) actually came from the Lac Viet (ancient Vietnamese) nation, and that Confucius actually used the teachings of the Viet people to educate the Chinese people.  Lac Viet was the first civilization of East Asia, independent from China, and older than China.

How revolutionary these findings are is yet to be determined.  For over a thousand years, the belief was that Vietnam was the offspring of China.  This however, has proven to be false.  It was actually the Viet people who gave birth to Chinese civilization.  Whether individuals decide to embrace or reject this discovery, they must respect it.  The facts exist and cannot be erased, not this time.

The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization

Posted in Ancient History, Books, I. News, VII. Research with tags , on May 20, 2010 by Ian Pham

There is a new book out now, titled: Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization. Originally written in Vietnamese (titled “Việt Nam: Suối Nguồn Văn Minh Phương Đông” in Vietnamese), Vietnam was later translated into English by Dr. Joseph M. Vo. As an academic piece of writing, the book answers many questions about Vietnam’s past through extensive academic research and investigation.  Of all the countries in Asia, the historical information on Vietnamese civilization and culture has been the most fragmented and scarce, so a book such as this would provide some much need explanations and answers to the myriad of questions about the history of the Vietnamese people.  This comprehensive book contains explicit information about many different aspects of Vietnamese civilization from various eras, covering even the origin of the Vietnamese people (which dates back to more than 4000 years!).  Currently, only certain bookstores throughout North America sells this important literary work.  However, Vietnam can still be purchased through various online retailers.  Hopefully bookstores and actual retailers sell it soon.