Dâu pagoda (Chùa Dâu)

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Version vietnamienne

Pagode Dâu,Vietnamese buddhism cradle


 Dâu pagoda  visible from its porch

  About 30 kilometers from Hanoï, Dâu pagoda is the most religious building in Vietnam because it was constructed in early Christian times in Dâu region known frequently during this period under the name “Luy Lâu”. In Chinese times, Luy Lâu was considered as the capital of Giao Châu (Giao Chi) from 111 B.C. until 106 B.C. At that time, according to Vietnamese researcher Hà Văn Tấn , the buddhist influence coming from India was accepted very early until the 5th century. Chinese governor Si Xie ( Sĩ Nhiếp in vietnamese) (177-266) also was accompagnied   in town by clerics coming from India (người Hồi) or Central asia (Trung Á) for each trip. At the end of the second century, Luy Lâu becames the first vietnamese buddhist centre  with 5 old pagodas: Dâu pagoda devoted to cloud genius  Pháp Vân (“thần mây”), pagoda Đậu to rain genius Pháp Vũ ( “thần mưa”), Tướng pagoda to thunder genius Pháp Lôi  (“thần sấm”),   Dàn pagoda to thunderbold genius Pháp Điện ( “thần chớp”) and main pagoda belonging to the mother  Man Nương of  that 4 geniuses (or Tứ Pháp in vietnamese). The Sino-Vietnamese words Dâu, Đậu, Tướng, Dàn  were preferred by the Vietnamese instead of using the names  Mây, Mưa, Sấm , Chớp (Cloud, rain, thunder and thunderbold) in close relation with the natural force found in the agricultural environment. The system based on that 4 geniuses evokes the subtle association between the buddhism  and popular beliefs coming from a  primitive society in Vietnam.

Accordingly, a lot of  Indian and foreign religious such as  Ksudra (Khâu Đà Là), Ma Ha Kỳ Vực (Mahajivaca), Kang-Sen-Houci (Khương Tăng Hội), Dan Tian did not wait long to stay at Luy Lâu and to preach the Buddhist teaching. The number of monks is so important that Luy Lâu becames in just a few years later the translation centre for sutras among which was found the famous sutra Saddharmasamadhi (Pháp Hoa Tam Muội) translated by kouchan monk Cương Lương Lâu Chi (Kalasivi) in the  3th century. According to  zen  monk  Thích Nhất Hạnh, one had the tendency to believe by mistake in the past that   Indian monk Vinitaruci introduced the Vietnamese Dhyana buddhism (Thiền) at the end of 6th century. During its passage to Luy Lâu in 580, he lived in the Pháp Vân monastery belonging to the dhyana school. It was during this time that  dhyana monk Quán Duyên  was beginning to teach here  the dhyana. 

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Other monks went in China for preaching the Buddhist law before the arrival of  famous monk  Bodhidharma known as  the partriach of  dhyana  school  and Chinese martial art.  By now, it is known that Kang-Sen-Houci (Khương Tăng Hội) monk coming from Sogdiana, had the merit of introducing the dhyana buddhism in Vietnam.  The Buddhism began to implant itself at Luy Lâu via  Man Nương history  and encountered no reluctance from the Vietnamese because it accepted the  tolerance and the traditional paganism. Thích Quang Phật and and Man Nương Phật Mẫu legends attested the easyness to aggregate  popular beliefs with  the buddhism.  One can say the marriage is successful between   buddhism and popular beliefs (Mây, Mưa, Sấm, Chớp) found in the corner.  The Buddha’s birthday also was  that of 4 geniuses who became Buddhas. The mother Man Nương of these 4 geniuses was also venerated   as Avalokiteśvara. One did not hesitate to install the Buddha altar in places where these 4 geniuses have been venerated. From now on, the buddhism began to propagate longer in other regions of Tonkin.  The Vietnamese buddhism was the Mahayana and took two ways in its propagation: seaway from South Vietnam (Funan and Champa) and land way from North Vietnam via Yunan.



Vietnamese buddhism (Phật giáo Vietnam)

French version
We do not know exactly the date Buddhism was introduced into Vietnam but on the other hand, we are however certain that this new faith has come to Vietnam by maritime way by the strait of Malacca. Vietnamese Buddhism is above all Mayahana BuddhismGreat Vehicle or Ðài Thừa in Vietnamese ). It is less pure, often blended with philosophical concepts of Confucianism and TaoismAs Vietnam is situated on the big road of pilgrimage between China and India, the most part of Vietnamese scholars at that time were only Buddhist monks who knew Chinese and Sanskrit perfectly well.

When Vietnam was established as an independent state in 939 at the fall of the Tang dynasty, it was the Buddhist monks who, being the sole true holders of knowledge, helped the first dynasties to consolidate their power. Many among them held important political posts, such as Ngô Chấn Lưu and Ðặng Huyền Quang.

They also provided the first poets and prose writers of Vietnam. One can say that under the earlier Le and Ly dynasties, Vietnamese literature was constituted a great deal of learned poetry and of Buddhist inspiration composed by monks among whom were Lạc Thuận and Vạn Hạnh. Lạc Thuận was assigned by king Lê Ðại Hành to greet Chinese ambassador Li Jiao ( or Lý Giác ). To take the latter across the river, monk Lạc Thuận disguised himself as a sampan rower. When seeing two wild geese playing on the water crests, Li Jiao began to sing:

Ngỗng ngỗng hai con ngỗng
Ngữa mặt nhìn trời xa
Wild geese, look at the two wild geese!
They raise their heads and turn toward the horizon!

Monk Lac Thuân did not hesitate to finish the quatrain on the same rhymes while continuing to row:

Nước biếc phô lông trắng
Chèo hồng sóng xanh khua
Their white feathers stretch out on the blue-green water
Their pink feet, like rows, split the blue waves.

The parallelism of ideas and terms and especially the speed of improvisation of monk Lac Thuan struck the admiration of the Chinese ambassador. As for the second monk, Van Hanh helped king Lý Công Uẩn to get rid of the Ðinh decadents and found the Ly’ dynasty (1009-1225) that transferred the capital to Thăng Long (presently Hanôi). Van Hanh was not only a talented politician, he was also a poet. The Ly dynasty owed it rise to the influence and counsel of this monk, which explained the preeminence of Buddhism since that date. It thus became the state religion with a church run by a spiritual master of the kingdom (or Quốc Sự). Many of the sovereigns of this dynasty belonged to the sects Thiền (or Zen in Japanese or Tchan in Chinese).

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They granted great favors to Buddhism, in particular Lý Thái Tôn, who, in 1031, after his victory over Champa, had over one hundred fifty monasteries built, not to include the construction of the famous one-pillar pagoda (Chùa Một Cột) following a dream. In spite of the beneficial influence of Buddhism, for the needs of a methodical organization and an effective administration of the country, the Ly dynasty had to adopt the Chinese model at all echelons of administration: the reshuffle of the hierarchy of functionaries (1089), the creation of exams (1075), the establishment of a imperial college (1076) (or Quốc Tự Giám) intended to teaching the children of the nobles, the creation of the Imperial Academy (1086) etc…Thanks to the development of lay education, the learned men began to replace the monks. Likewise, the diffusion of knowlege allowed the opening of a more varied and rich literature.

Buddhism declined and yielded to Confucianism only at the end of 13th century. This was due to several reasons: the struggle against the Mongols gave birth to a new leading class more Confucian than Buddhist lead by general Hung Ðạo Vương Trần Quốc Tuấn, the appearance of a new bureaucracy constituted of scholars and that of historical works to the detriment of Buddhist collections.

The Proclamation to The Troops ( or Hịch Tướng Sĩ ) by Hưng Ðạo Vương Trần Quốc Tuấn or the Grand Victory of Chương Dương celebrated by his lieutenant Trần Quang Khải by means of the following four verses:

Chương Dương cướp giáo giặc,
Hàm tử bắt quân thù
Thái bình nên gắng sức,
Non nước ấy nghìn thu. 

We have taken aggressors’ spears at the port of  Chuong Duong,
And captured enemies at the dock of Ham Tu.
May peace be the object of our supreme effort
And this land last forever.

witnessed  the opening of a literature richer, more national and historical. One continued to see the decline of Buddhism until 1963, the year when monk Thích Quảng Ðức immolated himself by fire to protest the regime of  president Ngô Ðình Diệm of South Vietnam.vehicule

This sacrifice did not turn out to be useless because it permitted the hastening of the fall of Diệm four months later and showed the whole nation that Buddhism, in spite of its spirit of tolerance and non-violence, could constitute a notable counterbalance to combat any forms of dictatorship and totalitarianism whose aim is to undermine moral foundations and conceptions of truth and solidarity found in Vietnamese civilization.

Vietnamese Buddhism thus regains for some decades not only its political role but also the dominating place it has lost for so long.

Papyrus vietnamien (Giấy dó)

Imageries populaires Đông H

Version française

English version

Các  bức tranh dân gian phổ biến nầy  thường được trông thấy trưng bày ở  các ki-ốt dành riêng cho các khách du lịch nước ngoài. Giấy dó (giấy rhamnomeuron) được sử dụng để in những hình ảnh này. Theo một số nhà nghiên cứu Việt Nam,  giấy này được xuất hiện vào khoảng thế kỷ thứ 3 và đạt đến đỉnh cao từ thế kỷ thứ 8 đến thế kỷ 14. Hồ Qúi Ly đã sử dụng nó vào cuối thế kỷ 14 để in các tiền tệ pháp định.

Việc sản xuất giấy này đòi hỏi phải có sự chuẩn bị thật  kỹ lưỡng. Giấy được làm bằng vỏ cây dó. Sau khi thu hoạch vào khoảng tháng 8 đến tháng 10 âm lịch, cần ngâm vỏ cây trong nước một hoặc hai ngày. Sau đó mới  được xử lý bằng cách ngâm nó trong dung dịch vôi cô đặc trong 5 giờ. Sau đó mới  đun sôi nó trong khoảng 20 giờ trước khi đem giã nó trong 5 giờ. Bột thu được bằng cách giã được pha loãng trong một chậu chứa đầy hỗn hợp nước và nhựa từ cây mò (clerodendron). Giấy thu được bằng cách sử dụng khuôn sau khi ép và sấy khô nó.

Cứ một trăm kí lô vỏ cây,  chỉ thu được 5 hoặc 6 kg giấy. Điều này giải thích tại sao thị trường bán giấy nầy rất bị hạn chế. Ngoài ra, giấy dó Việt Nam chỉ mọc ở vùng cao miền Bắc. Nổi tiếng với nghề in vẽ hình trên giấy dó, dân làng Dương Ô và Đông Hồ cũng chịu cùng  chung số phận. Giá  vốn sản xuất giấy  được tái chế lại cao hơn so với  giá bán giấy dó. Đây chính là lý do khiến ít người tiếp tục quan tâm đến nghề truyền thống nầy  đang bị thất lạc đi qua năm tháng.


Les imageries populaires fréquemment visibles sont proposées dans les kiosques réservés aux touristes étrangers. Le papier dó (papier de rhamnomeuron) est utilisé dans l’impression de ces imageries. Selon certains chercheurs vietnamiens, ce papier fut apparu vers le IIIème siècle et connut son apogée du VIIIème au XIVème siècle. Hồ Qúi Ly s’en servit à la fin du XIVème  siècle pour l’impression des monnaies fiduciaires.

La production de ce papier nécessite une préparation minutieuse. Il est fabriqué avec l’écorce de l’arbre do. Après la récolte de celle-ci entre les 8ème et 10ème mois lunaires, on a besoin de l’immerger dans l’eau pendant un ou deux jours. On la traite ensuite en la macérant dans une solution de chaux condensée durant 5 heures. Puis on la fait bouillir durant une vingtaine d’heures avant de la piler pendant 5 heures. La farine obtenue par le pilage est diluée dans une bassine remplie d’un mélange d’eau et de résine de la plante mò ( clerodendron ). Le papier est obtenu grâce à un moule après avoir été pressé et séché.



Papyrus vietnamien

Galerie des photos

Pour cent kilos d’écorce, on obtient seulement 5 ou 6 kilos de papier. Cela explique la raison pour laquelle le marché est très limité. De plus le papyrus vietnamien dó ne pousse que dans les hautes régions au Nord. Connus pour la fabrication des imageries populaires sur le papier dó, les villageois de Dương Ô et de Ðông Hồ ont subi le même sort. Le prix de revient  dans  la production du papier recyclé est supérieur à celui de vente  du papier dó. C’est pourquoi peu de gens continuent à s’intéresser encore à ce métier ancestral qui se perd au fil des années.

Version anglaise

Those are often proposed in the kiosks reserved to  foreign tourists. Paper dó (rhamnomeuron paper) is used in the printing of these images. According to certain Vietnamese researchers, this paper had appeared around the 3rd century and knews its apogee from the 8th to the 14th century. Hồ Qúi Ly made use of it at the end of  14th century for the printing of  fiduciary currencies. The production of this paper requires a meticulous preparation.

It is manufactured with the bark of the tree dó. After the harvest of this one between the 8th and 10th lunar months, one needs to immerse it in water during one or two days. After one treats it by macerating it in a lime solution condensed during 5 hours. Then one makes it by boiling  during about twenty hours before crushing it during 5 hours. The flour obtained by crushing is diluted in a basin filled with a mixture of water and resin of the plant mò (clerodendron). Paper is obtained thanks to a mould after being pressed and  dried.

For two hundred kilos of bark, one  gets only 5 or 6 kilos of paper. That explains why the market is very limited. In addition, the Vietnamese papyrus dó grows only in the northern  highlands. Known for making popular imagery on paper dó,  villagers of Dương Ô and Đông Hồ suffered the same fate. The cost price in the production of recycled paper is higher than the selling  price  of dó paper. That is why a few people still continue to be interesting to this ancient craft that is lost over the years.

Funan kingdom (Vương quốc Phù Nam)


French version

Funan kingdom

Until the dawn of the 20th century, the information was received about this old Hinduized kingdom in some Chinese texts. It was mentioned during the Three Warring States period of Chinese history (Tam Quốc )(220-265) in Chinese writings since the establisment of diplomatic relations between  the Wu state (Đông Ngô) and foreign countries. In this report, it is noted that the governor of Guandong and Tonkin provinces, Lu-Tai sent representatives (congshi) in the south of his kingdom. The kings, beyond the borders of his kingdom (Funan, LinYi (future Chămpa) and Tang Ming (country identified in the northern Tchenla at the time of Tang dynasty) sent each other an ambassador to pay him their tribute. Then Funan was also quoted in the dynastic annals from the Tsin dynasty (nhà Tấn) until the Tang dynasty (Nhà Ðường).

Even the name of Funan is the phonetic transcription of the old khmer word bhnam (mountain) in Chinese characters. It still gives rise to reservations and reluctances in the interpretation of Funan by « mountain » for some experts. These one find the justification of the name « Funan » in the best sense of « hillock » because, until quite recently, in the ethnographical studies [Martin 1991; Porée-Maspero 1962-69] , the Khmer were used to practising ceremonies around the artificial hillocks. Being affected by this custom that they did not know, the Chinese have made reference to this mode of practice for designating this kingdom. Thanks to archaeological excavations which took place in 1944 at Óc Eo with French Louis Malleret in An Giang province located into the south of present-day Vietnam, the existence and prosperity of this Indianised kingdom have not been in doubt. The results of these excavations had been written in his doctoral thesis, then published in an entitled work « Archaeology of the Mekong delta » representing 6 volumes.

© Đặng Anh Tuấn

This allows to confirm the Chinese informations and to make them a little more precise in the confinement and localization of this kingdom. Because of the abundance of  tin archaeological finds, French archaeologist Louis Malleret did not hesitate to borrow the name Óc Eo for designating this tin civilization. We begin to have now a deep light on this kingdom as well as its external relations during the resumption of excavations undertaken both by Vietnamese teams (Đào Linh Côn, Võ Sĩ Khải, Lê Xuân Diêm) and French-Vietnamese team led by Pierre-Yves Manguin between 1998 and 2002 in An Giang, Ðồng Tháp and Long An provinces where a large number of sites of Óc Eo culture are located.

We know that Óc Eo was a major port of this kingdom and was a transit hub in trade exhanges between the Malaysian peninsula and India on one hand and between the Mekong and China on other one. As the boats of the region could not cover long distances and had to follow the coast, Óc Eo thus became a mandatory stop and a important strategic step during the 7 centuries of blooming and prosperity for Funan kingdom.

Óc Eo civilization

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This one occupied a quadrangle included between the gulf of Thailand and Transbassac (western plains of Mekong delta or miền tây in Vietnamese) in the South of Vietnam. It was bounded in the northwest by the Cambodian border and in the southeast by Trà Vinh and Sóc Trăng cities. Aerial photos taken by the French people in the 1920s revealed that Funan was a maritime empire (or a thalassocracy).

The Chinese authors tell us that immense city states, encircled by successive lines of earthen ramparts and ditches formely filled by crocodiles, were divided into districts by the ramification of canals and arteries. We can imagine houses and stores on piles, bordered by ships as in Venice or in the Hanseatic cities. We discover in this surprising network constituted by stars of rectilinear canals arranged according to the northeast / southwest frame (from Bassac towards the sea) and all communicating with each other, its important role for evacuating Bassac floodwaters towards the sea. This allows to wash the soil with alum, repulse headways of brackish water during Bassac floods, favor the floating rice, ensure especially the provisioning inside the kingdom by cargoes of coastal navigation coming from China, Malaysia, India and even from Mediterranean circumference.

The discovery of gold coins bearing Antonin le Pieux (in 152 A.D.) or Marc Aurèle’s effigies and low-reliefs carvings of Persian kings testifies to the important role of this kingdom in trade exchanges at the beginning of the Christian era. There is even a grand canal allowing to connect the port city Óc Eo on one hand with the sea and on the other hand with the Mekong and the ancient city of Angkor Borei, located 90 km upstream in the Cambodian territory. This one would be presumably the capital of Funan in its decline.

For French archaeologist Georges Coedès, there is no question that the Angkor Borei site corresponds exactly to that of Na-fou-na, described in Chinese texts as the city where kings of Funan wildrew after their eviction from the ancient capital of Funan, Tö-mu, identified as the city Vyàdhapura located in the Bà Phnom region of the Cambodian territory by Georges Coedès [BEFEO, XXVIII, p. 127]. The wealth of this archeological site and the variety of archeological remains originating from it, confirm his affirmation.

Thanks to archeological finds that have been recovered during all series of excavations on the complex of Óc Eo sites, we can say that this kingdom knew three important periods during its existence:

The first period which extends from the 1st to about 3th century, distinguishes itself by terra-cottas (ceramic potteries, bricks, tiles), glassware (pearls and necklaces), silverware (rings, earrings), stones sculptures (seals, signet rings, cabochons), copper, iron, bronze and especially tin objects.

We attend the first human activity on hillocks in the Óc Eo plain and on low slopes of Ba Thê mountain. The habitat is on piles and wood. The common jar grave in the South-East Asia is still practised. The process of the Indianisation is not yet started by the absence of statuaries and religious relics. But there is, all the same, a regular contact between this kingdom and India.

The commercial exchange is strengthened by local alliances and Indian teachers arrival. These one, retained longer for their stays in this kingdom because of the season of monsoons, continued to practise their religions (Brahmanism, Buddhism). They began to make emulators among the natives and to help the latter in the implementation of a hydraulic network allowing to drain the flooded plain, until now, hostile and to make it « useful » for the habitat, cultivation and development of their kingdom. The Indians were known to realize advisedly the works of agricultural hydraulics and cultivation. It is what we have seen in the country of the Tamils during the Pallava period for example.

The floating rice cultivation is attested by the traces of use of this graminaceous plant as degreasing agent for pottery. For French researcher of CNRS, J.N. Népote, specialist of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, Funan kingdom received most of its revenues from the agricultural sector in the technique of floating rice.

It was not necessary to cultivate the soil nor to sow and even less to plant rice seedlings in this time when the coastal fringe of Funan was an flooded zone of polders. The rice grew alone at the same time as the water level, this one being able to reach three metres in height. The rice was later harvested by boats. For the floating rice, the only constraint to be required was the distribution and regulation of floods by the digging of canals in order to be better able to manage the irrigation water and facilitate the means of communication.

The second period of the Funan history (4th- 7th centuries) is marked by the discovery of a large number of Vishnouist and Buddhist religious monuments on the hillocks of Oc Eo plain and on the slopes of Mount Ba Thê. The emblematic figures of the Indian pantheon (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Nanin, Ganesha and Buddha) were exposed. It is also the period when the piled wooden housing moves from hillocks towards flooded plain and low slopes of Ba Thê mountain.

The indianisation of the kingdom was underway when we saw around 357 an Indian of Chinese name Tchou Tchan-t’an, being perhaps of Scythian origin and Kanishka descent, to reign in Funan kingdom [Founan: Paul Pelliot, p 269], which could explain the success of the Surya cult and its iconography in the Funan art. Another Brahman of Chinese name (Kiao-Tchen-Jou) (or Kaundinga-Jayavarma) will succeed him and will reign in Funan kingdom between 478 and 514. It is the period quite known thanks to local inscriptions in sanskrit.

Even the myth of the kingdom’s foundation comes from India: a Brahman named Kaundinya, guided by a dream, get a magic bow in a temple and navigates towards these banks where he manages to beat the girl named Soma of the native sovereign presented as Naga king (a fabulous snake) then he marries her to govern this country. We can say that during this period, the Funan kingdom knew its peak and maintained close relations with China.

The magnitude of its trade was indisputable by the discovery of a large number of objects other than that of India found on Funan banks: fragments of bronze mirrors dating from the Han anterior period, Buddhist bronze statuettes attributed to Wei dynasty, a group of purely Roman objects, statuettes of Hellenistic style in particular a bronze representation of Poseidon. These objects were probably exchanged for goods because Funan people only knew the barter. For the purchase of valuable products, they used golden and silver ingots, pearls and perfumes. They were known as excellent jewelers. The gold was finely worked with numerous Brahmanic symbols. Jewels (golden earrings with the delicate clasp, admirable golden filigrees, glass pearls, intaglios etc.) exposed in the museums of Đồng Tháp, Long An and An Giang testifies not only of their know-how and their talent but also the admiration of the Chinese in their narratives during their contact with Funan people.

The last period corresponds to the decline and end of Funan kingdom. A important change was indicated during period tcheng-kouan (627-649) to Funan kingdom in the Chinese annals. The kingdom of Tchen-la (Chân Lập) (future Cambodia) situated in the southwest of Lin Yi ( uture Champa) and country vassal of Funan took over the latter and subjugated it. This fact was not only reported in the new history of Tang (618-907) of Chinese historian Ouyang Xiu but also on a new inscription of Sambor-Prei Kuk in which king of Tchen La, Içanavarman was congratulated for having increased the territory of his parents. One thus bear witness to the abandonment of habitat and religious sites in the plain Óc Eo because the centre of gravity of the new political formation coming from the North leaves the coast to gradually approach the site of the future capital of Khmer empire, Angkor.

For French researcher J. Népote, the Khmers come from the North by Laos appear as Germanic bands against the Roman empire, try to establish inside lands a unitarian kingdom under the name of Chen La. They have no interest to keep the technique of the floating rice because they live far from the coast. They try to combine their own mastery of water storage with the contributions of Indian hydraulic science (barays) to finalize through multiple experimentations an irrigation better adjusted to the hinterland ecology and local varieties of irrigated rice.

In spite of the recent discoveries confirming the existence of this kingdom, many questions have remained unanswered. We do not know who were the indigenous people populating this kingdom. One thing is for sure: they were not Vietnamese who had arrived only in the Mekong delta in the 17th century. Were they ancestors of the Khmers? Some had this conviction when Louis Malleret began excavations in the 1940s because the toponymy of the region was totally Khmer. At the time of Funan, it was yet not clear what this is. However, thanks to the study of osseous remains of Cent-Rues (in the peninsula of Cà Mau), we are dealing with a population very close to Indonesians (or Austro-Asiatic ) (Nam Á).

A Mon-Khmer contribution in the North of this kingdom can be possible to give to Funan the juxtaposition and the fusion of two strata which are not far away from each other before becoming the race of Funan people. In this hypothesis frequently accepted, the Funan people were the proto-Khmers or the cousins of the Khmers. The absorption of a city of Malaysian peninsula (known under the name Dunsun in the Chinese sources reporting this fact ) in the 3th century by Funan in an area where the Mon-Khmer influence is undeniable, is one of the determining elements in favour of this hypothesis.

In what conditions did Óc Eo disappear? Nevertheless Óc Eo played an economic role in commercial exchanges during seven first ones centuries of the Christian era. The archaeologists continue to look for the causes of the disappearance of this port city: flood, fire, deluge, epidemic etc. …

Is the Funan kingdom a state unified with a strong central power or is it a federation of centers of urbanized and sufficiently autonomous political power on the Indo-Chinese peninsula as on the Malaysian peninsula so that we qualify them as city-states?

P.Y.Manguin has already raised this question during a colloquium organized by Copenhagen Polis centers on the city-states of the coastal South-East Asia in December, 1998. Where is its capital if the central power is strongly emphasized many times by the Chinese in their texts? Angkor Borei, Bà Phnom are they really the former capitals of this kingdom like that has been identified by French Georges Coèdes? For the moment, what has been found does not bring answers but it only redoubles the envy and desire of archaeologists to find them in the coming years because they know that they have the feeling of dealing with brilliant civilization of the Mekong delta.


Bibliography references

Georges Coedès: Quelques précisions sur la fin du Founan, BEFEO Tome 43, 1943, pp1-8
Bernard Philippe Groslier: Indochine, Editions Albin Michel, Paris 
Lê Xuân Diêm, Ðào Linh Côn,Võ Sĩ Khai: Văn Hoá Oc eo , những khám phá mới (La culture de Óc Eo: Quelques découvertes récentes) , Hànôi: Viện Khoa Học Xã Hội, Hô Chí Minh Ville,1995 
Manguin,P.Y: Les Cités-Etats de l’Asie du Sud-Est Côtière. De l’ancienneté et la permanence des formes urbaines. 
Nepote J., Guillaume X.: Vietnam, Guides Olizane 
Pierre Rossion: le delta du Mékong, berceau de l’art khmer, Archeologia, 2005, no422, pp. 56-65.

Ceramic (Gốm Vietnam)

French version



It is greatly surprising to see that, despite the everlasting domination of China on Viet-Nam, the latter was able to distinguish brilliantly starting from 14th century in the domain of ceramics. It became thus an active participant in the flourishing trade of South-East Asia in this domain with its junks and its compass known since 11th century. Tome Pires in his Suma Oriental (1515) summarized all these exchanges and foot-noted even the existence of a Vietnamese ceramic production intended for sale in China. At that time, there was even the counterfeit of Vietnamese blue and white in the Chinese furnaces of Snatow.

Its success was mainly due to the cobalt blue that blew into Vietnamese ceramic art a spirit which will have lasted for two centuries and enabled it to capture a foreign market as far as even the most remote corners of Asia.

It is the case of large a vase-bottle found at the Topkapi palace of Istanbul, carrying an inscription in Chinese characters, in blue under glaze that one can read in Vietnamese: Painted for pleasure by Pei de Nam Sách in the 8th year of Thái Hoà, or of a dish with blue and white floral decoration at the Treasury of Ardebil (Museum of Teheran)

If the cobalt blue was known in Vietnam for a long time even before the Chinese invasion of Ming, it appears that it was used only around the years 1430-1450. It is from this time that the blue and white definitively replace monochromic ceramics. 


Vase (Lê dynasty)

It is thanks to the perfect control of manufacturing, decorating and baking techniques that the Vietnamese potter can improve his imagination. Even though constraints of painting under glaze do not prevent any repentance, there appear on the sandstone not only more and more sophisticated drawings but also a variety of pigments, an eruption of form s and original decorations, which made him an artist. If he does borrow a good number of decorative drawings from China ( peonies, lotus, flowers, foliated scrolls etc..), he has on the other hand the idea to create an autonomous style which is less hieratic and more vivacious than his Chinese homologous by the liveliness of his feature and his spontaneity. He can adapt these decorative elements to the Vietnamese style: the Chinese red fish becomes thus the Cá Bông, a Vietnamese freshwater fish.

It is no longer the case of China since China discovers the perspective starting from the reign of Jiajing (1522-1566). On the other hand, the quality of the central motif found on the plates, is definitely higher than that of the surrounding ones. This proves there is an intervention of several craftsmen in the realization of these plates. Because of the war, Viêt-Nam did not set up a systematic program of archaeological excavations. Few sites were exhumed so far. On the other hand one knows that the areas of Tam Tố north of Thanh Hoá, Nam Sách in the province of Hải Dương, Bát Tràng north of Hanoi to name a few sites, are surely witnesses of the manufacture of these Vietnamese ceramic pieces.

Jarres , verseuses et bols en grès à l’époque des dynasties Lý et Trần.

Pictures gallery of Vương Hồn g Sển collection


La céramique vietnamienne (Philippe Colomban CNRS)

Des céramiques vietnamiennes chargées d’histoire  (Philippe Colomban CNRS)


The Hmong (English version)






French version

Vietnamese  version

The Hmong are divided into local  sub-groups: the Green Hmong, the Red Hmong, the variegated Hmong, the Black Hmong and the Na Mieo.

The Hmong (The Miao or Miêu in vietnamese) actually  living in Vietnam are  descendants of emigrants from South China. Around the end of 18th century and the beginning of 19th century, the Hmong emigrated to Indochina peninsula (Laos, Vietnam and Thaïland)  and settled  away from plains already occupied by  majority ethnic group  in mountainous areas of Hà Giang and Lào Cai provinces.

Their migration story was closely related to the insubordination to the Chinese culture and the policy of asssimilation practiced by northerners. According to mythic tales passed down from generation to generation, their ancestors lived in snow and  ice covered regions where the night lasted almost 6 months. That is why, being accustomed to living in tropical regions and not having the opportunity to see the snow, the Hmong use terms such as « nước cứng » (or solid water) and « cát trắng mịnh » (or fine white sand) to designate respectively the ice and the snow. According to historians, their origin would be in Siberia (Tây Bá Lợi Á) and in vast plateaus of Mongolia. Some Caucasian proeminent traits are detected among the Hmong today. Others preferably opt for Tibet because shamanic rituals.  One has speculations more than certainties about the accuracy of the Hmong geographic origin. In the Chinese writings, the Hmong were designated under the Miao name including initially all the  ethnic peoples non han living in South West China. Today,  this name is reserved to the population group specifically identified and distinct gathering together the Hmong living in Indochina peninsula and  the Miao ethnic minority populations  (The Hmong, the Hmou, the Qoxiong and the Hmau)  closely related at the linguistic and cultural level in China.

Originally related to the drawing of  rice field (Điền) above which is added the pictogram Thảo” (cỏ) (herb)(key 140), the Chinese character Miao (or Miêu in vietnamese) clearly shows the way that the Chinese adopt  to call  the people knowing  the rice cultivation with their language. Being initially rice farmers, the Miao  had  the sedentary lifestyle in plains. As the Miao were chased by successive waves of the Chinese who dispossessed them of their  arable land and their rice field, they were forced to become highlanders  and stayed until today. Being rushed to high altitudes in inaccessible and hostile mountain areas, they were forced to adapt themselves to each environment where they looked  for an agricultural model allowing them to practice the rice cultivation (rice terraces). In spite of that, the Chinese had the habit of traiting them as the barbarians. The Chinese have gone as far as making a distinction between the shu Miao ( or the  cooked Hmong) and the sheng Miao (the uncooked Hmong), that means the assimilated  Hmong  and the  diehard Hmong  on the margins of Chinese civilization.  They  had the task of transforming these sheng Miao into shu Miao.  Myths and facts are not miss to enrich the history of the Miao (or the Hmong).  The latter is punctuated by endless conflicts with the Chinese since time immemorial. This long history of resistance to oppression gives them a particular reputation: they cannot be assimilated and very belligerent.

Les Hmong

A people in search of freedom

The Miao ( or the Hmong ) lived together with Hsia(1) tribes since prehistoric times in the middle of Yellow River  Basin (Honan or Hà Nam in vietnamese).  Being associated with Chi You ( Suy Vưu ), they engaged the first confrontation leading to failure with the death of the latter at Zhuolu (Trác Lộc) in Heibei province (Hồ Bắc) (approximatively 2690 before J.C.).They were  henceforth  repelled by Yellow emperor Huang Yuan (Hiên Viên) and Yu the Great (Ðại Vũ) in the Bai Yue territory at  the Yang Tsé Basin River. Other conflicts were evoked with Miao groups in Chinese historical writings  of Shan and Zhou dynasties (1121 – 256 before J.C.). In the middle course of Yang Tsé River (Dương Tữ Giang), they exercised  significant influence over the political and social life of the Chu kingdom (Sỡ Quốc). The latter was considered as one of three principalities fighting among themselves for supremacy  during the Warring States period (Thời Chiến Quốc)In addition to the soul recalling, we noted the close ties between the  Chu culture and the Miao on the various cultural  traits (lifestyle, habitat, language etc…)(2). They constituted probably the force majeure in the Chu population with the Luo Yue (the Proto-Vietnamese) and the ancestors of Thaï today (The Si Ngeou or Tây Âu).  This force majeure became the first bulwark of Yue and Miao tribes in the committed fight against the Chinese.

Pictures of Hmong women




Being in hemp, silk or cotton, the  Hmong pleated skirt whose decoration is own to every group, requires more than 20 meters for the length of the fabric. The method of pleating is one of the characteristics of Hmong women skirt.


© Đặng Anh Tuấn

After the disappearance of this kingdom, the Miao continuated to be repelled in Guizhou (Quí Châu), Sichuan and Yunnan mountains.  Other military conflicts had emerged with Miao groups in the era of the first dynasty of the Han (140 – 87  before  J.C.) and during Five Dynasties (140 – 87 before  J.C.).  The Miao name was forgotten temporarily in Chinese writings until the establishment of Chinese suzerainty on these provinces by the Yuan ( or the Mongols of China). Then it was regularly mentionned again under the Ming dynasty. Because the Chinese strong demographic growth  ( from 100 millions to 450 millions between  13th and 18th centuries), the Chinese of the Ming dynasty continued to deprive the Hmong of their plateaus and their rice fields, which caused simultaneously the exodus and the fight engaged by the Hmong in the defense of their land. Some Hmong took up arms.  Other preferred to seek refuge in Indochina pensula, in particular in Vietnam by three  successive waves of which the most important was maked by  the  Taiping mystical insurrection   known under the name of Tai Ping Tian Guo (Thái Bình Thiên Quốc)  against the Qing  (from  1840 to 1868). The Hmong thus became a minority ethnic group of Vietnam since three centuries.

(1): There is the ancient name given to the Chinese.
(2): First  symposium on the history of  Chu kingdom (Jingzhu, Hubei, december 1981).




Art vietnamien (Nghệ thuật)



Dương Vân Nga (English version)

French version


One speaks rarely of Dương Vân Nga in the history of Vietnam. Her name is not as often cited as that of the sisters Trưng Trắc Trưng Nhị or that of Triệu Ẩu. However she was an outstanding woman, the great queen of the first two dynasties Ðinh and Tiền Lê ( anterior Lê ) of Vietnam. Her life and works can be summed up in the following four verses which have been transmitted by oral tradition to our days and left on the wall of Am Tien monastery by a mysterious monk exactly 1000 years now, at his encounter with Dương Vân Nga:

Hai vai gồng gánh hai vua
Hai triều hoàng hậu, tu chùa Am Tiên
Theo chồng đánh Tống bình Chiêm
Có công với nước, vô duyên với đời

On her two shoulders two kings were carried
Queen of two reigns, she retired in Am Tien monastery.
Accompanying her spouse, she had beaten the Song and pacified the Cham
Service she rendered to her country, yet bad luck she got in her life.

Among the ten queens of these two dynasties, she was the only one to be allowed a statue bearing her effigy. During its restoration and transfer in the temple dedicated to King Lê Ðại Hành at the beginning of the Hậu Lê dynasty the statue oozed strangely, perhaps due to it being exposed suddenly to the sun after having been put in a humid place. At that time, it was said that this phenomenon was attributed to atrocious sufferings life has reserved to Dương Vân Nga during her lifetime.

Dương Vân Nga

Her real name was Dương Thị. Vân Nga was the name attributed to her by combining the first word of the name of the region of her father Vân Long and that of her mother Nga Mỹ. She was issue of a very poor background. At her very young age she had to collect wood in the forest and fish in the river to provide to the subsistence of her family in a mountainous and uneven region which is our Hoa Lư. Early morning in the forest, late evening in the river, she became without delay a young hard working, energetic and trouble shooting girl.

She had an innate sense of organization that allowed her to become in the following years the leader of a band of young girls in the area. She arrived at coping with a rival band constituted mainly of young boys led by the buffalo tender Ðinh Bộ Lĩnh by completely disperse his herd of buffaloes by using firecrackers and by her perfect mastery of round floating baskets that helped rapid transport of her troops across swamps and streams. But Ðinh Bộ Linh finally had the last word thanks to his scheme of recourse to poles and light craft of bamboo mat to pierce and immobilize all the round floating baskets of Dương Vân Nga. From then on Ðinh Bộ Lĩnh not only conquered Duong Van Nga’s admiration but also her love. That is why nowadays to evoke conjugal union and predestined love of a couple, it is often referred to the following popular expression: Bamboo mat craft crush round floating baskets ( Thuyền tre đè thuyền thúng )

Thuyền thúng

Thanks to their association, they arrived at gathering under their banner all the young of Hoa Lu and eliminating without delay their opponents in the conquest of power. Thus Ðinh Bộ Lĩnh became the first king of the Ðinh dynasty often known as Ðinh Tiên Hoàng. He was very authoritarian. He used ranks and appointments to buy loyalty of his subordinates. He also used force and cruel and unimaginable punishments to punish his adversaries and those who dared criticize him.

Despite Dương Vân Nga’s advice, he remained unruffled and made several enemies to himself even in his family. Instead of appointing his eldest son Ðinh Liễn, the one who had helped him for several years in his fights for the unification of the country, he chose his youngest son Ðinh Hạng Lang as his crown prince. This provoked Ðinh Liễn’s jealousy and incited him to assassinate his younger brother. Dương Vân Nga was at first witness of the fratricidal fight among her children, then the death of her husband, king Ðinh Tiên Hoàng assassinated by Ðỗ Thích a crank who, after a dream, thought the kingdom should belong to him and the eldest son Ðinh Liễn killed by the rebel troops.

She soon had the pains and sufferings of her daughter, princess Phật Kim, deserted by her husband Ngô Nhật Khánh who, being one of the sons of Ngô Quyền, took refuge in Champa and requested this country to launch a maritime attack against his own land Vietnam in the goal of reconquest of power. Because of the age of her son Ðinh Toàn ( 6 years old ), she had to assume the regency with Lê Hoàn, a generalissimo, head of Vietnamese territories.

But she soon faced the armed resistance of her assassinated husband’s partisans who wanted to eliminate Lê Hoàn at any cost and also the imminent threat of the Song as well as Champa’s. She was placed in front of a dilemma that appeared to be difficult for a woman to overcome alone when she lived in a Confucian era and when Vietnam was just liberated from Chinese domination for about a dozen years. She had the courage to take a decision which appeared doubtful at that time and heavy of harmful consequences for the Dinh dynasty in yielding the throne to Le Hoan and associating with the latter in managing the Ðại Cồ Việt ( ancient Vietnam ).

Pictures gallery of Hoa Lư

This permitted Lê Hoàn to have a massive adhesion of a great part of population and restore not only the confidence but also the unity of the whole people. He thus succeeded in putting down the rebellion, wiping out the Song on the Bạch Ðằng river, starting the Nam Tiến movement ( or descent toward the South ) and restoring peace all over the country. One should place oneself in this troubling political context that Dương Vân Nga experienced in order to see that it was an act well thought out and courageous from the part of a woman who, trained up until then to be submissive to a Confucian yoke, dared accept the dishonor and scorn to assure that our country would not pass under Chinese domination and that Vietnam would not prolong in political chaos.

Her combat appeared to be more arduous than that of the Trưng Trắc Trưng Nhị sisters because it is the matter of not only a struggle against the invaders, but also her own interests, her personal sentiments for the love of this country.
During the reign of Lê Ðại Hành ( or Lê Hoàn ), she ceaselessly advised the latter to practice a politics of magnanimity towards his adversaries, to ban cruel punishments established by Ðinh Tiên Hoàng and to call on talented monks ( Khuông Việt, Ngô Chấn Lưu, Hồng Hiến, Vạn Hạnh ) to the management of the country. Being a warrior by nature, bearing the name of Great Expedition ( Ðại Hành ), he continued to enlarge Vietnam by leading not only a maritime expedition that destroyed the Cham capital Indrapura in presently Central Vietnam in 982 and killed the Cham king Bề Mi Thuế ( Paramec Varavarman ) but also a politics of pacification all over the place in the ethnic minority territories. It was in one of these battles that the last son of Dương Vân Nga and Ðinh Tiên Hoàng, Ðinh Toàn, died assassinated at the place of Lê Hoàn by the Mán. This death was followed by the suicide of her daughter, princess Phật Kim and the death by illness of her son Long Thâu that she had with Lê Ðại Hành. She was taken up by the disappearance of her entourage without complain. She preferred to live her last days in Am Tiên monastery and burry the personal sufferings of a woman facing her destiny.

Is it fair for a patriotic woman like Dương Vân Nga overwhelmed by destiny, not to be cheered and cited like the Trưng Trắc Trưng Nhị sisters in the history of our Vietnam? Is there anything to do with a deliberate omission because of a sacrilege committed by Dương Vân Nga for having married and served two kings in a feudal Confucian society which is ours? One cannot erase the truth of history especially these details, said the Chinese historian Si Ma Qian.

It is time to give back to Dương Vân Nga her notoriety and her place she deserved long time ago in our history pages and make known to future generations the courageous and full of wisdom decision. This one, even though it seemed doubtful and immoral for a Confucian society, was made in the moment where the situation exacted more than ever the cohesion and unity of the whole people facing foreign invasion, but also a man of valor and talent that was our great king Lê Ðại Hành. Without him, the Nam Tiến movement would not have taken place.

Dương Vân Nga-Lê Hoàn (Version française)

English version

Vietnamese version

On parle rarement de Dương Vân Nga dans l’histoire du Vietnam. Son nom est moins cité que celui des deux sœurs Trưng Trắc et Trưng Nhị ou Triệu Ẩu. Pourtant c’est une femme hors du commun, la grande reine de deux premières dynasties Ðinh et Lê antérieurs du Vietnam. Sa vie, son œuvre, on peut les résumer à travers les quatre vers suivants  transmis par tradition orale jusqu’à nos jours et  laissés par un moine mystérieux sur le mur du monastère Am Tiên, il y a eu exactement 1000 ans, lors de sa rencontre avec Dương Vân Nga:

Hai vai gồng gánh hai vua
Hai triều hoàng hậu, tu chùa Am Tiên
Theo chồng đánh Tống bình Chiêm
Có công với nước, vô duyên với đời

J’étais née pour épauler les deux rois
Étant la reine de deux dynasties, je me retirais à la fin de ma vie  dans le monastère Am Tiên.
En accompagnant mon époux,  je me battais contre les Song et je pacifiais le Champa
J’avais la gloire dans le pays et la malchance dans la vie.

Parmi les dix reines de ces deux dynasties, elle était la seule à être autorisée à avoir une effigie statuaire. Celle-ci, lors de la restauration et du transfert dans le temple dédié au roi Lê Ðại Hành au début de la dynastie des Lê postérieurs (Hậu Lê) suinta étrangement, probablement par le fait qu’elle avait été exposée subitement au soleil et placée depuis longtemps dans un endroit humide. On attribua, selon l’on-dit, ce phénomène, à cette époque, aux souffrances atroces que la vie avait réservées à Dương Vân Nga, lors de son vivant.

Dương Vân  Nga

Son vrai nom était Dương Thị. Vân Nga était le nom qu’on lui a attribué en associant le premier mot du nom de la région de son père Vân Long et celui de sa mère Nga Mỹ. Pour certains historiens, elle était la fille de Dương Tam Kha, le beau-frère du généralissime Ngô Quyền.  (déjà signalé dans l’article de  Đinh Bộ Lĩnh).  Elle était issue d’un milieu très pauvre. Dès son jeune âge,  elle était obligée de chercher du bois dans la forêt et de se procurer des poissons dans la rivière pour pourvoir à la subsistance de sa famille dans une région montagneuse et accidentée. De bonne heure, le matin dans la forêt, très tard le soir dans la rivière, elle ne tardait pas à devenir une jeune fille.

Thuyền thúng

Elle avait un sens d’organisation inné lui permettant de devenir quelques années plus tard le meneur d’une bande de jeunes filles de sa région. Elle arrivait à tenir tête à une bande rivale constituée essentiellement de jeunes garçons et dirigée par le  jeune bouvier  courageux et intelligent  Ðinh Bộ Lĩnh en désorganisant complètement les troupeaux de buffles de ce dernier par le crépitement  des feux de bois sec   et par la  maîtrise parfaite des paniers ronds flottants, ce qui permettait  de faciliter le transport rapide des troupes à travers les marécages et les cours d’eau. Mais Ðinh Bô. Lĩnh avait quand même le dernier mot grâce à son stratagème de recourir à  des embarcations légères en natte de bambou et à  des perches pour percer et immobiliser enfin tous les paniers ronds flottants de Dương Vân Nga. Dès lors, Ðinh Bộ Lĩnh conquit non seulement l’admiration de Dương Vân Nga mais aussi son amour. C’est pourquoi pour évoquer, de nos jours, l’union conjugale et la dette originelle d’un couple, on se réfère souvent à l’expression populaire suivante: « Les embarcations en natte de bambou écrasent les paniers ronds flottants (Thuyền tre đè thuyền thúng)».

Galerie des photos de Hoa Lư 

Grâce à leur association, ils arrivèrent à réunir sous leur bannière, tous les jeunes de Hoa Lư et ne tardèrent pas à éliminer leurs concurrents dans la conquête du pouvoir. Ðinh Bộ Lĩnh devint ainsi le premier roi de la dynastie des Ðinh connu souvent sous le nom de Ðinh Tiên Hoàng. Il était  très autoritaire. Il se servait des grades et des appointements pour acheter la fidélité de ses subordonnés mais aussi de la force et des châtiments cruels et inimaginables pour punir ses adversaires et ceux qui osaient le critiquer. 

Malgré les conseils de Dương Vân Nga, il continuait à rester imperturbable et se faisait de nombreux ennemis même dans sa famille. Au lieu de nommer son fils aîné, Ðinh Liễn, celui qui l’avait aidé depuis tant d’années dans ses combats pour l’unification du pays, il choisit comme prince héritier son plus jeune fils Ðinh Hạng Lang. Cela provoqua  la jalousie de Ðinh Liễn et incita  à ce dernier à assassiner son petit frère. Dương Vân Nga était d’abord témoin de la lutte fratricide de ses enfants, puis de la mort de son mari Ðinh Tiên Hoàng  et de son fils aîné  Đinh Liễn assassinés par un illuminé Ðỗ Thích qui, après un rêve, crut que le royaume devait lui appartenir.  Cet assassin fut pourchassé durant trois jours avant d’être découvert caché sous le toit d’un bâtiment et condamné à mort ensuite par son premier ministre Nguyễn Bặc. Cette hypothèse n’est pas très convaincante aujourd’hui. Certains historiens comme Phan Duy Kha, Lã Duy Lan, Đinh Công Vĩ ou Lê Văn Siêu  trouvent dans l’assassinat de Đinh Tiên Hoàng et de son fils la main de son généralissime Lê Hoàn avec la complicité de Dương Vân Nga. L’ambition de l’assassin est un peu démesurée et excessive dans la mesure où Đổ Thích ne détient  aucune armée comme Lê Hoàn. Il est le seul personnage à assister à cette tuerie car il est  l’eunuque de l’empereur. Dans le récit historique, il n’y a pas d’autres complices. Il y a le doute dans cette logique. Dương Vân Nga ne tardait  pas à voir les douleurs et les souffrances de sa fille, la princesse Phất Kim délaissée par son mari Ngô Nhật Khánh, qui, étant l’un douze seigneurs locaux soumis et issu de la famille de  Ngô Quyền, se réfugia au Champa et demanda à ce pays de monter une expédition  militaire  contre son propre pays, le Viêt-Nam dans le but de reconquérir le pouvoir convoité. 

Pourquoi  Ngô Xuân Khánh demande t-il de l’aide au Champa contre son propre pays? Pourquoi la Chine des Song prend-t-elle le prétexte pour justifier son intervention au Vietnam?

Il faut rappeler que Đinh Tiên Hoàn réussit à unifier le pays à cette époque car il adopta une politique basée essentiellement sur une combinaison de souplesse et d’alliance  vis à vis des forces rebelles issues de la famille du généralissime Ngô Quyền afin d’avoir l’adhésion du peuple vietnamien dans la conquête  et la légalité du pouvoir mis en place. C’est pourquoi  il consentit à donner sa fille  Phất Kim en mariage à Ngô Xuân Khánh et de prendre la mère et la sœur de ce dernier comme épouse pour lui et son fils aîné Đinh Liễn.  C’est avec la mère de Ngô Xuân Khánh qu’il avait un fils cadet  nommé Đinh Hạng Lang. Pour tenter de plaire à Ngô Xuân Khánh et à sa mère, il choisit Đinh Hạng Lang comme prince héritier à la place de  son fils aîné Đinh Liễn. Cette erreur fatale provoqua la colère de Đinh Liễn et incita ce dernier à  commettre le meurtre de  son jeune frère Đinh Hạng Lang.  Au lieu de condamner à mort  Đinh Liễn, Đinh Tiên Hoàng lui accorda  le pardon. Cela enleva à Ngô Xuân Khánh tout espoir d’usurper un jour  le pouvoir à l’image de Wang Mang (Vương Mãng) à l’époque des Han car il pensait à aider son jeune  demi-frère à gouverner le pays  lors la disparition de Đinh Tiên Hoàng.  C’est pourquoi il décida de  demander l’intervention du Champa pour reprendre le trône convoité. Quant à la Chine, elle trouva une occasion inespérée de reconquérir An Nam car jusqu’alors la Chine des Song reconnut seulement la succession légale en la personne de Đinh Liễn en lui accordant le titre « Nam Việt vương (roi du Sud) ».

A cause du jeune âge de son fils (6 ans) Ðinh Toàn,  Dương Vân Nga devait assumer la régence avec Lê Hoàn, généralissime, chef des territoires vietnamiens.  Elle se heurta aussitôt à la résistance armée des partisans de son mari assassiné qui voulaient éliminer à tout prix Lê Hoàn. Elle dut  faire face non seulement à la menace et l’invasion imminente des Song mais aussi à celle du Champa. Elle était placée devant un dilemme difficile pour une femme de surmonter seule lorsqu’elle vit à l’époque confucianiste et  le Vietnam fut libéré à peine d’une dizaine d’années de la domination chinoise. Elle avait besoin d’être protégée ainsi que son fils Đinh Toàn. Elle avait le courage de prendre une décision  douteuse à cette époque et lourde de conséquences néfastes pour la dynastie des Ðinh en cédant le trône de son fils à Lê Hoàn et en s’associant à ce dernier dans la gestion du Ðại Cồ Việt (ancien Viêt-Nam ). Cela permit à Lê Hoàn d’avoir à cette époque  l’adhésion massive d’une grande partie de la population et de restaurer non seulement la confiance mais aussi l’unité de tout un peuple. Il réussit ainsi à mater la rébellion menée par les anciens compagnons de Đinh Tiên Hoàng (Nguyễn Bặc, Đinh Điền), à anéantir les Song sur le fleuve Bach Ðằng, à entamer le mouvement « Nam Tiến (ou la marche vers le Sud) » et à restaurer la paix sur tout le pays. Il faut se placer dans ce contexte politique troublant qu’a connu Dương Vân Nga pour constater que c’est un acte bien réfléchi et courageux de la part d’une femme exceptionnelle, qui, formée jusque là pour être soumise à un carcan confucianiste, ose accepter le déshonneur et le mépris pour s’assurer que notre pays ne repasserait pas sous la domination chinoise et que le Viêt Nam ne se replongerait pas dans le chaos politique.

Son combat parait plus ardu que celui des sœurs Trưng Trắc et Trưng Nhị car il ne s’agit pas non seulement d’une lutte contre les envahisseurs mais aussi contre ses propres intérêts et ses sentiments personnels.

Durant le règne de Lê Ðại Hành (ou Lê Hoàn), elle ne cessa pas de conseiller à ce dernier de pratiquer une politique de magnanimité envers ses adversaires, à supprimer les châtiments cruels établis par Ðinh Tiên Hoàn et à faire appel à des moines talentueux (Khuông Việt Ngô Chấn Lưu, Hồng Hiến, Vạn Hạnh ) dans la gestion du pays. Étant guerrier de sa nature, portant le nom signifiant Grande Expédition (Ðại Hành), il continua à agrandir le Viêt-Nam en menant non seulement une expédition maritime qui détruisit la capitale chame Indrapura dans le centre du Viêt-Nam actuel en l’an 982 et qui tua le roi du Champa Bề Mi Thuế (Paramec Varavarman) mais aussi une politique de pacification de tous azimuts dans les territoires des minorités ethniques. C’est dans l’un de ces derniers que le dernier fils de Dương Văn Nga et Ðinh Tiên Hoàng, Ðinh Toàn mourut assassiné à la place de Lê Hoàn, par les Mán. Cette mort fut suivie par le suicide de sa fille, la princesse Phất Kim et par le décès de maladie de son fils Long Thâu qu’elle avait eu avec Lê Ðại Hành. Elle fut accablée par la disparition successive de son entourage sans broncher. Elle préféra passer les derniers jours de sa vie dans le monastère Am Tiên et y enfouir les douleurs personnelles d’une femme seule face à son destin.

Est-il juste pour une femme patriote comme Dương Vân Nga accablée par le destin, de ne pas avoir le mérite d’être chérie et citée comme les sœurs Trưng Trắc et Trưng Nhị dans l’histoire de notre Vietnam? S’agit-il d’une omission voulue délibérément à cause d’un sacrilège commis par Dương Vân Nga d’épouser et servir deux rois dans la société féodale et confucéenne qu’est la nôtre? On ne peut pas gommer la vérité de l’histoire en particulier ses détails, ce qu’avait dit l’historien chinois Si Ma Qian.

Il est temps de redonner à Dương Vân Nga la justice  et la place qu’elle mérite depuis si longtemps dans notre page d’histoire et faire connaître aux générations futures cette décision courageuse et empreinte de sagesse. Celle-ci, bien qu’elle paraisse douteuse et immorale pour la société confucéenne, est prise à un  moment où la situation politique exige plus que jamais la cohésion et l’unité de tout un peuple face à l’invasion étrangère et aussi un homme de valeur et de talent qu’est notre grand roi Lê Ðại Hành. Sans celui-ci, le mouvement Nam Tiến ne serait jamais engagé.


Phan Duy Kha, Lã Duy Lan, Đinh Công Vĩ, Nhìn lại lịch sử, Nhà xuất bản Văn hóa thông tin, 2003.
« Việt Nam văn minh sử » – Lê Văn Siêu, Nhà xuất bản VHTT, 2004.
Hoàng Công Khanh: Hoàng hậu hai triều Dương Vân Nga. Nhà xuất bản văn học 12-1996

Bái Đính (English version)

French version


Tràng An landscaped  complex 

Pagoda Bái Đính

Located on karst mountain ranges Tràng An in Ninh Bình province, the pagoda Bái Đính is very ancient. Its  reputation is confirmed for a long time under the successive dynasties Đinh, early Lê and Lý. Today, Bái Đính pagoda becomes an religious complex where one finds not only the old temple but also new temples under construction since 2003. Bái Đính pagoda is regarded  in Southeast Asia as the pagoda having the enormous  statue Buddha cast in bronze and imported from Russia.  This one has a height reaching 16 meters  and a weight of 100 tons.  500 arhats in white stone are disseminated  along a corridor  about 2 kilometers. This complex has a total surface of 539 ha whose 27 ha are reserved for the old pagoda, 80 ha for  new temples, a Buddhist study centre, waiting areas and car parks as well as lakes system.

World cultural heritage of Vietnam

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Ninh Bình (Hạ Long cạn)