Rừng tràm Trà Sư (Tịnh Biên, Châu Đốc)

 

Rừng tràm Trà Sư  là khu rừng ngập nước ngọt  tiêu biểu cho vùng Tây sông Hậu và cũng là nơi sinh sống của 140 loài động vật và thực vật thuộc hệ thống rừng đặc dụng Việt Nam. Nằm cách thành phố Châu Đốc khoảng 30 cây số về phía tây nam và thành phố Long Xuyên 64 cây số. Rừng tràm Trà Sư là nơi mà người du khách có cơ hội hoà mình vào thiên nhiên len lỏi theo xuồng ba lá, tắc ráng giữa mênh mông rừng tràm qua các con đường bèo quanh co, rất thú vị nhất là với mùa nước nổi từ tháng 9 đến tháng 11 hàng năm.

Version française

La forêt des cajeputiers

Étant un écosystème de marais d’eau douce  dont le cajeputier abrite dans ses racines échasses coquillages, poissons et crustacés, la mangrove Trà Sư est une forêt inondée typique du  delta du Mékong dans la région ouest du Bassac. C’est aussi ici la réserve forestière du Vietnam  où on trouve  140 animaux (roussettes, chauves-souris, hérons, aigrettes, cormorans etc …)  et plantes. Elle est située à 30 kilomètres au sud ouest  de  la ville de Châu Đốc  et distante de 64 km de la ville de Long Xuyên. La forêt inondée Trà Sư est le lieu où le touriste a l’occasion de de se jeter à corps perdus dans la nature et  pouvoir s’introduire    dans les  recoins de l’immense sylve remplis  de lentilles d’eau et  parsemés parfois par des fleurs de lotus   grâce à la barque avec pagaie ou équipée d’un petit moteur. C’est très agréable de passer une journée en période de hautes crues  de l’année (de septembre à novembre). 

Nhà Đông Hán (Dynastie des Han orientaux)

 

titre_dynhan_9Bảo tàng viện Guimet (Paris)

English version

French version

Nhà Đông Hán (Dynastie des Han orientaux)

Niên đại nhà Đông Hán

icon_daihan

 Đông Hán

25-57: Quang Vũ Đế

57-75: Minh Vũ Đế

75-88: Hán Chương Đế

88-106: Hán Hoà Đế

106: Hán Thương Đế

106-125: Hán An Đế

125:Hán Thiếu Đế

125-144: Hán Thuận Đế.

145-146: Hán Chất  Đế.

146-168: Hán Hoàn Đế.

168-189: Hán Linh Đế

184: Giặc Khăn Vàng 

189: Hán Thếu Đế 

189-220: Hán Hiến Đế

190: Cũng cố thế lực  Tào Tháo

220: Tào Tháo và  Hán Hiến Đế qua đời

Nhà Hán diệt vong

Thời kỳ bắc  thuộc lần thứ nhất

Ở các vùng lãnh thổ bị người Hán chinh phục, đặc biệt là ở miền nam Trung Quốc, việc Hán hóa tiếp tục một cách dữ dội bất chấp mọi  phản ứng. Vì thế các cuộc nội loạn tiếp nối diễn ra đầu tiên ở  Điền Quốc ( năm 86, 83 TCN, 14 sau CN, từ năm  42 à đến năm 45 ) nhưng bi trấn áp một cách nghiêm khắc.  Cũng phần đông từ các việc hà hiếp của các quan chức nhà Hán và thái độ ngang tàng cướp đất của các cư dân tàu và  tiếp tục đẩy lùi các dân bản xứ đến các vùng heo hút. Hơn nửa họ phải học tiếng tàu, theo phọng tục và tín ngưỡng của người tàu. Sau đó năm 40, xãy ra một cuộc nổi dậy  ở Giao Châu gồm có ở thời kỳ đó một phần lãnh thổ của Quảng Tây và Quảng Đông.   Cuộc khởi nghĩa do hai người con gái  của  lạc tướng ở Mê Linh tên là Trưng Trắc (Zheng Cè) và Trưng Nhị (Zheng Er). Để làm gương cho các  quân phiến lọan, thái thú Tô Định (Su Ding) không ngần ngại giết  chồng của bà Trưng Trắc tên là Thi Sách (Shi Suo) vì ông nầy phản đối chính sách đồng hóa  gắt gao. Việc hành hình nầy khiến làm phẫn nộ hai bà và khơi mào đến cuộc vùng dậy ở toàn lãnh thổ của người Bách Việt nhất là vùng của người Việt. 

icon_tigre

Dụng cụ dùng  để giữ  các vành của chiếc chiếu 

Poids de natte

 

 

Hai bà Trưng được sự hưởng úng của các tộc trưởng khác  Man Di ở quận Cửu Chân, Nhật Nam, Hợp Phố  nên hai bà ta đã đoạt được 65 thành trì  trong thời gian rất ngắn, trở thành Nữ vương và đóng dô tại Mê Linh (Meiling).  Năm 41, hai bà bị khắc phục bỡi Mâ Viện Phục Ba tướng quân (Ma Yuan) và gieo mình tự sát ở Hát Giang thay vì đầu hàng.  Hai bà trở thành  một biểu tương về ý chí quật cường của dân tộc Việtnam. Hai bà vẫn được sùng bái không những ở Vietnam mà ở ngay trên các lãnh thổ của dân Bách Việt mà ngày nay thuộc về Trung Quốc (Quảng Tây và Quảng Đông). 

Mã Viện bất đầu thi hành chinh sách khủng bố và hán hoá bằng cách đặt người tín nhiệm tàu  ở các then chốt của nguồn máy hành chánh và áp đặt tiếng tàu là ngôn ngữ chính thức trên toàn lãnh thổ của người dân Việt.  Đây là thời kỳ bắc thuộc lần đầu và được kéo dài gần một ngàn năm trước cuộc chiến tranh giải phóng dân tộc với  Ngô Quyền. Giữa lúc đó, Hán Quan Vũ Đế (Guangwudi) đã thành công đem lại sự thịnh vượng và ổn định  trong nước bằng cách giảm thuế về lợi nhuận. Cũng như Hán Vũ Đế, sau khi Quan Vũ Đế mất, con ông Hán Minh Đế (Mingdi) đeo đuổi chính sách bành trướng đất đai với  các cuộc tấn công chống lại quân Hung Nô nhầm tranh giành ảnh hưởng ở các nước Trung Á và đem lại sự an toàn cho con đường tơ lụa (Route de la soie). Tướng Ban Siêu (Ban Chao), anh của sử gia nổi tiếng Ban Cố (Ban Gu)  (hay Mạnh Kiên)(*) ở thời đó, được trọng trách  trong cuộc viễn chinh nầy. Ông đã thành công đến tận hồ Caspienne (hay Caspi) và chinh phục được dân tộc Nhục Chi nhờ có sự giúp đỡ của dân tộc Kusana.  


(*) Tác giã của  Hán Sử (Annales des Han)

Galerie des photos

 

Cathédrale Saint Joseph (Nhà thờ Lớn Hànội)

Version française

Dựa theo mẫu nhà thờ Đức Bà Paris, nhà thờ Saint Joseph được thiết kế bỡi giám mục Paul-François Puginier theo phong cách kiến trúc Gothic trung cổ  Âu Châu và được xây dựng  vào năm 1884 trên khu đất mà trước đó có  chùa Báo Thiên, một chùa nổi tiếng đã có từ thời nhà Lý (thế kỷ 11) . Nhà thờ nầy thường đươc gọi là nhà thờ lớn vì ngoài kích thước hoành tráng  với  chiều dài 64,5m, chiều rộng 20,5m và hai tháp chuông cao 31,5m có đến 5 chuông còn lại là nhà thờ chính tòa của Tổng giáo phận Hà Nội. Nhà thờ nầy được hoàn thành vào năm 1886 sau bốn năm xây cất. Chi phí tốn kém nhờ hai đợt xổ số (đợt một năm 1883, đợt hai năm 1886). Tuy rằng bề ngoài của nhà thờ có vẻ đen tối vì ô nhiễm, nhà thờ nầy vẫn được xem là một di tích lich sữ thời kỳ Pháp thuộc và là điểm tham quan cực kỳ quan trọng đối với người du khách nước ngoài khi đến Hànội.

 

Basée sur le modèle de Notre Dame de Paris, l’église Saint Joseph dont les plans ont été dessinés par l’évêque  Paul-François Puginier est   du style néo-gothique. Elle fut construite  en 1884  sur l’emplacement de la pagode Báo Thiên, un édifice bouddhique très connu à l’époque de la dynastie des Lý (11 ème siècle).  Cette église est fréquemment appelée « grande église » car outre ses dimensions imposantes avec sa longueur de 64,5 mètres, sa largeur de  20,5 mètres  et ses deux clochers carrés hauts de 31 mètres et  équipés de 5 cloches, elle est encore  l’église-mère de l’archidiocèse d’Hanoï. Sa réalisation fut terminée en 1886 après 4 années de construction avec l’argent alimenté par le système de loterie (organisé en 1883 et en 1886). Malgré son aspect extérieur assombri par la pollution, cette église est un vestige historique de l’époque coloniale française et devient actuellement l’un des sites  extrêmement importants pour les touristes étrangers lors de leur passage à Hanoï.

 

Lotte center (Hànội)


Version française

Tọa lạc ở giữa thành phố Hànội trong quận Ba Đình, trung tâm  Lotte center Hànôi   gồm 65 tầng nổi và 5 tầng hầm. Toà nhà nầy cao thứ 2 Việt Nam từ năm 2014 cho tới khi landmark 81 của Saigon  vượt qua chiều cao của nó 2017 (bề cao 461,5m). Nơi nầy, ngoài khách sạn 5 sao, còn có  đại siêu thị Lotte Mart chiếm toàn bộ tầng hầm B1. Từ tầng 1 đến tầng 6  là trung tâm thương mại với các mặt hàng thời trang cao cấp. Đến đây , có thể nhìn thấy tổng quát Hà thành với  đài quan sát  Sky Walk ở tầng 65, cao tới 272 m.  Ngoài ra còn bố trí các quán bar để du khách giải lao và ăn uống. 

 

Trung Tâm Lotte

Le gratte-ciel Lotte center  est situé au cœur de la capitale de Hànội dans le district de Ba Đình.  Il a 65  étages et 5 étages en sous-sol.  Classé deuxième au Vietnam depuis 2014, il est devancé désormais par le gratte-ciel landmark 81 de Saigon. Ce dernier  a la  hauteur de 461,5m.  C’est ici qu’outre l’hôtel 5 étoiles, il y a encore le supermarché Lotte Mart. Celui-ci  occupe  carrément  l’étage en sous-sol B1. Du premier étage jusqu’au 6ème étage, c’est le centre commercial avec des boutiques de mode. La tour d’observation Sky Walk haute de 272m est  au 65 ème étage. On peut y avoir la vue d’ensemble  magnifique  de la capitale Hànội.  Le cadre est aussi superbe avec les bars et restaurants. Les visiteurs peuvent  s’y  détendre.

Duy Tân (1907-1916) (English version)

duytan_empereur

Version française

 A great homage to the man who has dedicated all his life for his people and his country.

Một đời vì nước vì dân
Vĩnh San đứa trẻ không cần ngôi vua
Tù đày tử nhục khi thua
Tử rồi khí phách ông vua muôn đời

With the agreement of the Vietnamese authorities, the ashes of emperor Duy Tân interred up to now in the Republic of Central Africa were gathered with great pomp on April 4th, 1987 in Huế, the city of imperial mausoleums of the Nguyen dynasty. This has brought an end to a long and painful banishment that has had prince Vĩnh San often known as Duy Tân ( or Friend of Reforms ) since his uprising plan against the colonial authorities was discovered on May 4, 1916 because of the treason of a collaborator, Nguyễn Ðình Trứ.

Duy Tân is an outstanding character that none of the last emperors of the Nguyễn dynasty could be equal to. One can only regret his sudden disappearance due to a plane crash that took place at the end of 1945 on his way back from a mission from Vietnam. His death continues to feed doubt and remains one of the mysteries not elucidated until today. One found in him at that time not only the unequal popularity he knew how to acquire from his people, the royal legitimacy, but also an undeniable francophile, an alternative solution that general De Gaulle contemplated to propose to the Vietnamese at the last moment to counter the young revolutionary Hồ Chí Minh in Indochina. If he had been alive, Vietnam probably would not have known the ill-fated decades of its history and been the victim of the East-West confrontation and the cold war.

It is a profound regret that every Vietnamese could only feel when talking about him, his life and his fate. It is also a misfortune for the Vietnamese people to have lost a great statesman, to have written their history with blood and tears during the last decades.

His ascension to the throne remains a unique occurrence in the Annals of history of Vietnam. Taking advantage of suspicious anti-french schemes and the disguised lunacy of his father, emperor Thành Thái, the colonial authorities compelled the latter to abdicate in 1907 and go into exile in the Reunion at the age of 28. They requested that Prime Minister Trương Như Cường assume the regency. However this one while categorically refusing this proposal, kept demanding the colonial authorities to strictly respect the definite agreement in the Patenôtre Treaty of Protectorate (1884) providing that the throne comes back to one of the emperor’s sons in case he ceases reigning ( Phụ truyền tử kế ). Facing popular opinion and the infallible fidelity of Trương Như Cương to the Nguyen dynasty, the colonial authorities were forced to choose one of his sons as emperor. They did not hide their intention of choosing the one that seemed docile and without caliber. Except Vĩnh San, all of about 20 other sons of emperor Thành Thái were present at the moment of selection made by the General Resident Sylvain Levecque. The name Vĩnh San missed at the roll-call, which forced everyone to look for him everywhere.

Finally he was found under the beam of a frame, his face covered with mud and soak with sweat. He was chasing the crickets. Seeing him in this sordid condition, Sylvain Levecque did not hide his satisfaction because he thought only a fool would choose the day of ascession to the throne to go chasing the crickets. Upon the recommendation of his close collaborator Charles, he decided to designate him as emperor of Annam as he found in front of him a seven-year old child, timid, reserved, having no political ambition and thinking only to devote himself to games like children of his age. It was an erroneous judgment as stated in the comment of a French journalist at that time in his local newspaper:

 A day on the throne has completely changed the face of an eight-year old child. 

One noticed a few years later that the journalist was right because Duy Tân has dedicated all his life for his people and his country until his last breath of life.
At the time of his ascension to the throne he was only 7. To give him a stature of an emperor, they had to give him one more year of age. That is why in the Annals of history of Vietnam, he was brought to the throne at 8 years of age. To deal with this erroneous designation, the colonial authorities installed a council of regency constituted of Vietnamese personalities close to General Resident Sylvain Levecque ( Tôn Thất Hân, Nguyễn Hữu Bài, Huỳnh Côn, Miên Lịch, Lê Trinh, Cao Xuân Dục) to assist the emperor in the management of the country and requested that Eberhard, the father-in-law of Charles be Duy Tân’s tutor. It was a way to closely supervise the activities of this young man.

Trần Cao Vân

In spite of that, Duy Tân succeeded in evading the surveillance network placed by the colonial authorities. He was one of the fierce partisans for the revision of the Patenotre agreements (1884). He was the architect of several reforms: Tax and chore duty reduction, elimination of wasteful court protocols, reduction of his own salary etc… He forcefully protested the profanation of emperor Tự Ðức’s tomb by General Resident Mahé in his search for gold, with the governor of Indochina Albert Sarraut. He claimed the right to look at the management of the country. This marked the prelude of dissension which grew more and more visible between him and the French Superior Resident. On May 4, 1916, with Trần Cao Vân and Thái Phiên, he fomented a rebellion which was discovered and put down due to the treason of one of his collaborators. Despite his capture and flattering advice of the Governor of Indochina asking him to reexamine his comportment and conduct, he continued be impassible and said: 

If you compelled me to remain emperor of Annam, you should consider me as an adult emperor. I should need neither the council of regency nor your advice. I should manage the country’s business on the same footing with all foreign countries including France.

Facing his unwavering conviction, the colonial authorities had to assign the Minister of Instructions of that time, the father-in-law of future emperor Khải-Ðịnh, Hồ Ðắc Trung to institute proceedings against his treason toward France. For not compromising Duy Tân, the two older collaborators Trần Cao Vân and Thái Phiên made it known to Hồ Đắc Trung their intent to voluntarily accept the verdict provided that emperor Duy Tân was exempt from the capital punishment. They kept saying:

The sky is still there. So are the earth and the dynasty. We wish long live to the emperor.

 

Faithful to the Nguyen dynasty, Hồ Ðắc Trung only condemned the emperor to exile in justifying the fact that he was a minor and that the responsibility of the plot rested with the older collaborators Trần Cao Vân and Thái Phiên.

The men were guillotined at An Hoà. As for emperor Duy Tân, he was condemned to exile to the Reunion on November 3, 1916 on board of the steamship Avardiana. The day before his departure, the representative of the General Resident visited him and asked:

Sir, if you need money you may take it from the state coffer.

Duy Tân replied politely :

The money that you find in the coffer is intended to help the king to govern the country but it does not belong to me in anyway especially to a political prisoner.

To entertain the king, the representative did not hesitate to remind him that it was possible to choose preferred books in the library and take them with him during his exile because he knew the king loved to read very much. He agreed to that proposal and told him:

I love reading very much. If you have the chance to bring books for me, don’t forget to bring the entirety of all the volumes of « History of the French Revolution » of Michelet.

The representative dared not report to the Resident what Duy Tan had told him.

His exile marked not only the end of the imperial resistance and the struggle monopolized and animated up until then by the scholars for the defense of the Confucian order and the imperial state but also the beginning of a national movement and the emergence of a state nationalism placed in birth by the great patriot scholar Phan Bội Châu. It was also a lost chance for France for not taking the initiative to give freedom to Vietnam in the person of Duy Tân, a francophile of the first hour.

His destiny is that of the Vietnamese people. For a certain time, one has deliberately made all streets bearing his name disappear in big cities ( Hànội, Huế, Sàigon ) in Vietnam, but one cannot forever erase his cherished name in his people’s heart and in our collective memory. He is not the rival of anybody but he is on the contrary 

the last great emperor of Vietnam.

To this title I dedicate to him the following four verses:

Devoting his whole life to his country and people,
Duy Tan the kid did not hang on to his throne.
Facing exile and humility when defeated,
His uprightness lives forever in history unabated.

Thành Thái (1879-1954) (English version)

 

 

Version française

Thành Thái 

A great homage to a man who devoted his whole life for his country and people through my Six-Eight verses:

Ta điên vì nước vì dân
Ta nào câm điếc một lần lên ngôi
Trăm ngàn tủi nhục thế thôi
Lưu đày thể xác than ôi cũng đành

His madness for the love of  his country  and people.

I am mad for the love of my country and people
Once on the throne, I can’t stay deaf-mute
It wouldn’t matter I feel self pity and shame
And my body suffers years of exile with resignation

Prior to becoming emperor Thành Thái, he was known as Bửu Lân. He was the son of emperor Dục Ðức who had been vilely assassinated by the two Confucianist mandarins Tôn Thất Thuyết and Nguyễn Văn Tường, and the grand son of the mandarin Phan Ðình Bình. Because the latter was maladroitly opposed to the enthronement of emperor Ðồng Khánh by the colonial authorities, Ðồng Khánh was fast to take revenge by cowardly getting rid of this old mandarin and by putting Bửu Lân and his mother under house surveillance within the surrounding wall of the purple city at the Trần Võ palace in order to avoid all seeds of revolt. That was why at Ðồng Khánh’s death and upon the announcement of the choice of her son as the successor by the colonial authorities, Buu Lan’s mother was surprised and cried so much because she was always obsessed by the idea that her son would probably meet the same fate as her husband, emperor Dục Đức and her father, the mandarin Phan Ðình Bình. If Buu Lan was preferred to other princes, it was incontestably due to the ingenuities of Diệp Văn Cương, the presumed lover of his aunt, princess Công Nữ Thiên Niệm because Diệp Vân Cương was Resident General Rheinart‘s personal secretary, in charge of conducting business with the Imperial Court to find a compromise on the person to be chosen to succeed emperor Ðồng Khánh.

Thus he involuntarily became our new emperor known as Thành Thái. He was fast to realize that his power was very limited, that the Patenôtre treaty was never respected and that he had no right with regard to the management and future of his country. Contrary to his predecessor Ðồng Khánh, close to the colonial authorities, he took a passive resistance by trying to thwart their policies in a systematic manner with his provoking remarks and amicable gestures. His fist virulent altercation with the Resident General Alexis Auvergne was noticed at the inaugural ceremony of the new bridge spanning across the Perfume river. Proud of technical prowess and confident of the sturdiness of the bridge, Alexis Auvergne did not hesitate to tell Thành Thái with his habitual cynicism:

When you would have seen this bridge collapse, your country would be independent.

To show the importance that the colonial authorities has given to the new bridge, they named it « Thành Thái ». This made the emperor mad. Using as a pretext that everyone can walk over his head when crossing the bridge, he forbade his subjects to call the bridge by its new name and incited them to use the old name « Tràng Tiền ».

Tràng Tiền bridge (Huế)

Some years later, the bridge collapsed during a violent storm. Thành Thái was fast to recall Alexis Auvergne of what he had said with his black humor. Alexis Auvergne was red with shame and had to clear off at these embarrassing remarks. The dissension with the authorities grew day by day until the replacement of the old Resident General by Sylvain Levecque. The latter was fast to place a network of strict surveillance when he learned that Thanh Thai continued to approach his people through the bias of his reforms and his disguise in plain clothes or as a beggar in villages. He was the first emperor of Vietnam to take the initiative of having his hair cut the European fashion, which astonished so many of his mandarins and subjects when he first appeared. But he also was the first emperor to encourage his subjects to follow French education. He was the artisan of several architectural projects. He was also the first emperor of the Nguyen dynasty who wanted to pay enormous attention to the daily life of his subjects and to know their daily difficulties. It was reported that during an escorted excursion, he met on his way a poor man who was hauling a heavy load of bamboo. He body guard wanted to ease the way but he stopped him by saying:

I am neither citizen nor emperor as I should be in this country. Why do you chase him away?

During his excursions, he often used to sit on a mat, surrounded by the villagers and to discuss all the issues with them. It was in one of his excursion that he brought back to the purple city an oarswoman who accepted to marry him and became his concubine. He was well known as an excellent drummer.

That is why he summoned all the best drummers in the country to the purple city, asked them to play drums before his court and reward them generously according to their merit. It was reported that one day, he met a drummer who used to tilt his head when playing. Wanting to help him correct this funny habit, he told him jokingly:

If you keep on playing that way, I will have to have your head rolled.

From then on, the drummer, worrying incessantly about the next call, was overwhelmed by fear and died of a heart attack. One day, knowing the death of the drummer, Thanh Thai was taken my remorse, summoned his family and gave them a large sum of money to take care of their daily needs.

His way of joking, his frequent disguises, his sometimes strange behavior incomprehensible to the colonial authorities gave them an opportunity to brand him a lunatic.

As for Thành Thái, he was deported first to Vũng Tàu (former Cap St. Jacques) in the Fall of 1907, then later to the Reunion Island with his son, emperor Duy Tân in 1916. He was only allowed to return to Vietnam in 1945 after the death of Duy Tân and to stay confined within Vũng Tàu, South Vietnam during the last years of his life.

Is it possible to brand him lunatic when it is known through his poem titled « Hoài Cổ » ( Remember the Past ) that Thành Thái was so lucid and never stopped to groan with the pain facing the alarming situation of his country? Other eight seven-foot verses we know such as The storm of the year of the Dragon in 1904 ( Vịnh Trần Bão Năm Thìn ) or Profession of Faith ( Cảm Hoài ) not only show Thành Thai’s perfect mastery in the strict application of the difficult rules in Vietnamese poetry but also the painful pride of a great emperor who, in spite of a forced exile for almost half a century ( 1907-1954 ) by the colonial authorities, continued to display his conviction and unshakable faith in the liberation of his country. Through him it is already seen forging on this land of legends the instruments of a future revolt.

For him, his incurable illness was the goal to realize his intention, to give his people the dignity so long waited and to show future generations the sacrifice and the price which even he, a person considered alienated by the colonial authorities, had to pay for that country ( 47 years of exile ). In the political context of the time, he should not reveal himself of this « illness ».

Up to now, no historic document show us Thành Thái’s insanity but rather it reveals a great emperor’s lunacy of the love of his country and people, neverending affliction of a great patriot facing the destiny of his country.

Yin and Yang numbers (Âm Dương: Part 3)

Version française

Yin and Yang numbers (Con số Âm Dương)

One is accustomed to say in Vietnamese: sống chết đều có số cả (Everyone has his D day  for life  and death). Ði buôn có số, ăn cỗ có phần   (One has his vocation in trade as one has his part in feast). In daily life, everyone a his size for his clothing and his shoes. Contrary to the Chinese, the Vietnamese emphasize odd numbers (số dương) rather than  even numbers (sô’ âm). 

One frequently  finds the use of even numbers in the Vietnamese phrases: ba mặt một lời (One needs to be in front of someone with the presence of a witness),  ba hồn bảy vía ( three souls and 7 vital supports for men i.e one is terrified), Ba chìm bảy nổi chín lênh đênh ( very  hectic), năm thê bảy thiếp ( to have  5 spouses and 7 concubines i.e. to have many  women ), năm lần bảy lượt ( many times), năm cha ba mẹ ( heterogenuos), ba chóp bảy nhoáng ( with precipitation and  no care ), Môt lời nói dối , sám hối 7 ngày (A  speech deceitful amounts to  seven days of  repentance), Một câu nhịn chín câu lành (To avoid an offensive sentence is having kind sentences ) etc …or that of integral  multiples of the number 9:18 (9×2) đời Hùng Vương ( 18 legendary kings Hùng Vương ), 27 (9×3) đại tang 3 năm (27 tháng)(or a beareavement endured  on three years or 27 months only), 36 (9×4) phố phường Hànội (Hànội with 36 neighbourhoods) etc …One don’t forget to mention the numbers 5 and 9, having each of them a role very important.   The figure 5 is the  number the most mysterious because all starts from this number. Heaven and Earth have the five elements  or agents giving birth to thousand things and objects. It is placed in the center of the River map and Writings of Luo which are the basis for the mutation of five elements (Thủy, Hỏa, Mộc, Kim, Thổ)( Water, Fire, Wood, Metal and Earth). It is associated to the element Earth in the central position that the peasant needs to  known for the  management of cardinal points.  This goes to the man to have the centre in the management of things and species and four  cardinals.  That is why, in the feudal society, this place is reserved to the king because it is he who  has govern  the people. Consequently, the number 5 belonged to him as well as the yellow colour symbolizing the Earth. This  explains the colour choosen by Vietnamese  and Chinese emperors for their clothes.

Ho Tou Lo Chou

(Hà Đồ Lạc Thư)

In the addition to the centre occupied by man, an symbolic animal is associated to the each of four cardinal points: the North by the turtle, the South by the phoenix, the West by the dragon and the East by the tiger. One is’nt surprised to see at least in this attribution the presence of three animals living in the region where the agricultural life plays a notable role and water is vital. It is the land of Bai Yue group. Even the dragon very mean in others cultures becomes a kind and noble animal imagined by  peaceful peoples  Bai Yue. The number 5 is yet known  under the name « Tham Thiên Lưỡng Đia » (or  three Heaven two  Earth or 3 Yang 2 Yin) in the Yin and Yang theory because the acquisition of the number 5 coming from the union of  numbers 3 and 2 corresponds better to the reasonable percentage of Yin and Yang than that of the association of numbers 4 and 1. In this latter, the number Yang 1 very dominated by the number 4. It is’nt the case of the union of the numbers 3 and 2 because the number Yang 3 slightly overpowers the number Yin 2. This encourages the universe development in an almost perfect harmony. In ancient times, the fifth day, the fourteen en day (1+4=5) and the twenty-third  (2+3=5) day in the month were reserved for the way out of the king. It is’nt allowed to subjects  for trading during his travel and disturbing his walk. It is  perhaps the reason for which a great number of the Vietnamese continue to avoid these days for the home construction, the trip and major purchases. One is accustomed to say: 

Chớ đi ngày bảy chớ về ngày ba
Mồng năm, mười bốn hai ba
Đi chơi cũng lỗ nữa là đi buôn
Mồng năm mười bốn hai ba
Trồng cây cây đỗ, làm nhà nhà xiêu

You  avoid going  out the 7th day and coming back the 3th in the month. For the 15th, 14th and 23th days in the month, you  will be losing if you go out or you trade.  Likewise, you will see the failing tree or the tilting of your home if you make the planting tree or the house construction.

The number 5 is frequently mentioned in the Vietnamese culinary art. The most typical sauce remains the fish brine (nước mắm). In the preparation of this national sauce, one mentiones the presence of 5 flavours classified according to the 5 elements of Yin and Yang:mặn ( salty ) with the fish juice  (nước mắm), đắng (bitter)  with the lemon zest (vỏ chanh), chua (acidulous) with the lemon juice, cay (spicy) with pigments crushed  in powder or chopped  in strips and ngọt (sweet ) with sugar in powder. These  5 flavours ( mặn, đắng, chua, cay, ngọt ) combined and found in the Vietnamese national sauce  correspond to 5 elements defined in the Yin and Yang theory (Thủy, Hỏa , Mộc , Kim Thổ ) ( Water, Fire,  Wood, Metal and Earth ).

Likewise, one rediscovers these 5 flavours in the bittersweet soup (canch chua) prepared from fish: acidulous with tamarin seeds or vinegar, sweet with slices of ananas, spicy with pigments chopped in strips,  salty with fish juice and bitter with some okras  (đậu bắp)  or flowers of « fayotier in French »  (bông so đũa). When the soup is served, one will add some fragrant herbs like the panicaut (ngò gai), rau om (herb having  the  flavor  of coriander with  a  lemony   taste in addition). It is a characteristic trait of the bittersweet soup of Sud Vietnam which  is different from those found in others regions of Vietnam.

One cannot forget to mentione the sweet rice cake that the Proto-Vietnamese had succeeded to bequeath to descendants over millennia of their civilization.  This  sweet rice cake is the intangible proof of Yin and Yang theory and 5 elements belonging to Bai Yue group (Hundred Yue), the Proto-Vietnamese of which formed part  because there is  the generation cycle (Ngũ hành tương sinh)  in its composition. 

(Fire->Earth->Metal->Water->Wood)

Inside the cake, one finds a piece of porkmeat in red color ( Fire ) around which there is  a kind of paste made with broad beans in yellow color ( Earth ). The whole thing is wrapped by the sticky rice in white color ( Metal ) to be cooked with boiling water ( Water ) before having a green colouring on its surface thanks to the latanier leaves (Wood).

An other cake is not missing th weddings. This is the cake susê or phu thê (husband-spouse) having inside a round form  and enveloped by banana leaves (green colour) in order to give it the  well-tied cube appearance  with a red ribbon (red color).  The circle is  thus placed within the square (Dương trong âm)(Yang in Yin). This cake is made from tapioca flour,  perfumed in pandan and strewn with  black sesame seeds (black color). One finds in the hearth of this cake a paste made of steamed soybeans  (yellow color) and jam of lotus seeds and grated coconut.(white color). This paste is very similar to the  frangipane found in « galettes des rois ». Its sticky texture reminds the link that one can represent in the union. This cake is the symbol of the perfection in conjugal love and loyalty responding the perfect agreement with the Heaven and the Earth and 5 elements symbolized by 5 colors (red, green, black, yellow and white).

This cake is related by the following tale: in the past, there was a merchant engaged in debauchery and doing not like to go home although before his departure, his spouse gave him the cake susê  and promised to remain cordial and sweet like the cake. That is why, when she has heard this story, she did send others cakes phu thê accompagnied by two following verses: 

Từ ngày chàng bước xuống ghe
Sóng bao nhiêu đợt bánh phu thê rầu bấy nhiêu

Since your departure, waves were encountered by your boat as much as afflictions were known by the cake susê  
Lầu Ngũ Phụng

 

In architecture, the number 5 is not forgetten either. It is the case of Ngọ Môn gate (noon gate) in the forbidden city (Huế). This gate is  a powerful  masonry  foundation drilled with five passages and surmonted by an elegant wooden structure with two levels, the Belvedere of five Phoenixes (Lầu Ngủ Phụng). Viewed from the sky, this latter  with two additional wings, seems to form five phoenix in flight with intertwined beaks. This belvedere possesses 100 wood columns(gỗ lim)(ironwood) painted and tinted in yellow for allowing  to carry its nine roofs. This number 100 was well examinated  by Vietnamese specialists. According to renowned  archeologist  Phan Thuận An, it exactly corresponds to the total number obtained by adding two numbers found respectively  in the River map (Hà Đồ)  and Writings of Luo  (Lạc thư cửu tinh đồ) symbolizing the perfect harmony of the union Yin and Yang.  It is not the Liễu Thượng Văn advice.  According to this latter, this represents the strength of 100 families or people (bách tính) and reflects the notion dân vi bản (consider people as basis) in the Nguyễn dynasty’s governance.  The roof of the central pavilion is covered by yellow tiles « lưu ly », the rest being with blue tiles « lưu ly ». Being  just in the middle,  the main gate  (or noon gate) is reserved to the king and  paved with stones   « Thanh » tinted in yellow color. From both sides, one finds  left and right doors (Tả, Hữu, Giáp Môn) reserved to civilian and military mandarins.  Then two others lateral  gates Tả Dịch MônHữu Dịch Môn are intended to soldiers and horses. One is accustomed to say in Vietnamese: 

tucam

Ngọ Môn năm cửa chín lầu
Một lầu vàng, tám lầu xanh, ba cửa thẳng, hai cửa quanh »

The noon gate  possesses 5 passages and 9 roofs the one of which is varnished in yellow and the 8 others in blue.  There are  three main  doors  and two side entries.

In the east and west of the citadel, ones finds Humanty and Virtue gates which are reserved respectively for men and women. 

The number 9 is a Yang number (or odd number). It representes the Yang strength at the maximum.  It is difficult to reach it.  That is why, in the past, the emperor often uses for showing his power and supremacy. He climbs 9 stairs symbolizing the ascent of sacred mountain in which there was his throne. It is said that the forbidden city like that of Pékin possessed 9999 rooms. It is useful to recall that the forbidden city of Pékin was supervised by  Nguyễn An, a Vietnamese exiled  still  young at the time of the Ming. As his palaces, the emperor turns towards the South in Yang energy in order to receive the vital breath of Sky because he is the Heaven son. In Vietnam, one finds nine dynastic urns of Huế citadel, nine branchs of Mekon river, nine roofs of  Belvedere of five Phoenixes etc … In the tale intituled   « The God of Mountains and the God of Rivers « (Sơn Tinh Thủy Tinh) », 18th (2×9) Hùng Vương king, proposed for the dowry marriage of his daughter Mị Nương: an elephant with nine tusks, a rooster with nine spurs and a horse with nine red manes.  The number 9 symbolizes the Heaven,  the birthday of which is the ninth (9th) day of February month.

Being less important than 5 and 9, the number 3 (or Ba and Tam in Vietnamese) isclosely tied to the daily life of the Vietnamese.  They do not hesitate to evoke it in a large number of popular expressions. For meaning a certain limit, a certain degree, they have the habit of saying: 

Không ai giàu ba họ, không ai khó ba đời:
No person can claim to be rich  to three generations as  no one is  more  stringent to three successive lives. 

It goes to the Vietnamese to often  accomplish this certain thing at once, this obliges them to do many times this operation. It is the following expression that they uses frequently: Nhất quá tam.  It is the number 3, a limit they don’t like to exceed  in the accomplishment of this task. For saying that someone is irresponsible,  they designate him under the term “Ba trợn“.  Someone who is opportunistic is called « Ba phải » . The expression  « Ba đá » is reserved to vulgar people while those who continue to be entangled in minor matters or endless difficulties  receive the title « Ba lăng nhăng« . For weighing his words, the Vietnamese needs to bend three inches of his  tongue. (Uốn ba tấc lưỡi). 

The number 3 also is synonymous with insignificant and unimportant something.It is what one finds in following popular expressions: 

Ăn sơ sài ba hột: To eat a little bit.
Ăn ba miếng: idem
Sách ba xu: book without values. (the book costs only three  pennies).
Ba món ăn chơi: Some  dishes  for tasting. 

Analogous to number 3, the number 7 is often mentioned in Vietnamese literature. One cannot ignore either the expression Bảy nỗi ba chìm với nước non  (I  float 7 times  and I descend thee times if this  expression is translated in verbatim) that Hồ Xuân Hương poetess  has used and immortalized in her poem intituled « Bánh trôi nước” :

Thân em vừa trắng lại vừa tròn
Bây nỗi ba chìm với nước non
………. 

for describing difficulties encountered by the Vietnamese woman in a feudal and Confucian society. This one did not spare either those having an independent mind, freedom and justice.   It is the case of  Cao Bá Quát , an active scholar who was degusted from the scholastica of his time and dreamed of replacing the Nguyễn authoritarian monarchy by an enlightened monarchy. Accused of being the actor of the grasshoppers insurrection  (Giặc Châu Chấu) in 1854, he was condemned to death and he did no hesitate his reflection on the fate reserved to those who dared to criticize  the despotism and feudal society in his poem before his death: 

Ba hồi trống giục đù cha kiếp
Một nhát gươm đưa, đéo mẹ đời. 

Three gongs are reserved to the miserable fate
A sabre slice finishes this dog’s life. 

If the Yin and Yang theory continues to haunt their mind for its mystical and impenetrable character, it remains however a way of thinking and living to which a good number  of the Vietnamese continue to refer daily for common practices and respect of ancestral traditions.


Bibliography

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Yin and Yang theory (Âm Dương : Phần 1)

French version 
yinyangviet

Part 1 (Yin and Yang theory)
Part 2 (Yin and Yang theory)
Part 3 (Yin and Yang numbers)

The Yin and Yang theory continues to manage the daily life of the Vietnamese,   down to the last detail. The Yin nature is everything being  fluid, cold, humid, passive, dark, interior, immobile and originating from  feminine  essence as the  sky, moon,  night,  water and  winter. But everything being solid, hot, light, active, exterior, mobile and coming from the male essence as  soil, sky, fire and  summer belongs to the Yang nature. This  bipolarity is even  found   in the Vietnamese grammar by using the words « con » and « cái ».  Similar to French articles defined « le » and « la », these are employed to indicate the type in certain cases but one can rely on the nature « mobile » or « immobile » of the object accompanied for indicating its belonging in the corresponding semantic class. The word cái is used in case where the object carries the character « immobile » (tĩnh vật) : cái nhà (house), cái hang (cave), cái nồi ( pot) etc… However, when the state « mobile » (động vật) belongs to the object nature, the word « con » is used instead of « cái ». It is the case of the following words: con mắt (eye), con tim ( heart), con trăng ( viper),  con ngươi ( pupil), con dao ( knife) etc… The eye moves incessantly as the throbbing heart. Similarly, the viper moves as well as the pupil. The knife is considered by the Vietnamese as a sacred animal. It is nourrished with blood, wine and rice.  The same name beared by an object can lead to two different interpretations depending on the use of the word « cái » or « con« . The following example reflects the character « mobile » or « immobile » of the object « thuyền » ( or boat ) employed : Con thuyền trôi theo dòng nước (The boat moves on the water). This mean  someone drives forward the boat with oar or  engine. However, when one says  « cái thuyền trôi theo dòng nước » (The boat moves on the water), one insists on the fact that nobody does not manoeuvre the boat. It is the flood waters that drives forward the boat alone. This notes the character « immobile » of the boat. The influence of Yin and Yang is no stranger to the way of attributing the sex to common objects. It is the case of the knife (dao): dao cái (large knife), dao đực ou dao rựa (or machete).  This remark has been notified by French archeologist and sinologist Alain Thote in his article intituled « Origine et premiers développements de l’épée en Chine « : The Yue  swords enjoyed the very  high celebrity in ancien times. Some swords had the name  and one was brought to consider their belonging to the male or female sex. The expression  « đực rựa »  used frequently in conversations for designating the men,  is from the custom  of the old Vietnamese  carrying machetes during the walk.

The gender  association is  also visible for a long time in Vietnam in rice cultivation: the man ploughs and the woman pricks out in the field. The plougshare penetrating the soil (Yin)  symbolizes the male sex (Yang) while the woman transmits the power of fertilization (Yin) to rice plants (Yang)  by transplantation. For showing the complete perfection in the harmonious union of Yin and Yang, one has the habit of saying in Vietnamese: Being together, husband and wife achieve to scoop all the  water from the East sea. (thuận vợ thuận chồng tát biển Đông cũng cạn).

Being ric farmers, the Proto-Vietnamese were attached not only to the soil but also to the environment because thanks to the natural  phenomena ( rain, sky, wind, cloud etc…) , they had successful  harvests or not. The extensive agriculture in slash/burning or in flooded terrains  depended on  the vagaries of climate. That is why they needed to live in harmony with nature. They considered that they were the link between  Heaven and Earth (Thiên-Nhân-Địa). From this notion, one has the habit of saying: Thiên Thời, Địa Lợi, Nhân Hòa (to be aware of  weather,to  know the environment and to  have popular support or national harmony). There are three  key   factors of success  to which Vietnamese strategists (Trần Hưng Đạo, Nguyễn Trãi or Quang Trung) referred,  in their struggle against foreign invaders. The Vietnamese  take into consideration this triad in their way of thinking and their daily life. For them,  there is no doubt that this notion has an undeniable influence on man himself: his destinity is imposed by the will of Heaven and depend on his date  of birth. With the exterior and interior environment of his home, he can receive the harmful or beneficial  breath (qi) generated by the Earth. The art of harmonizing the exterior and interior  environmental energy of his housing allows him to minimize his troubles and promotes his welfare and his health. A flat terrain without any undulations and no hills is the lifeless soil and shortness of breath qi (Khí). The Vietnamese call  mountains and hills with the names Dragons and Tigers. Buildings should have respectively  a green  Dragon  and  a white tiger in the  west and east facing.  The caring dragon must be more powerful than the tiger (Hữu Thanh Long, Tã Bạch Hổ), that means the Dragon mountain is higher than the Tiger hill.  The best site is that which has a hill behind one another, which enables to show the interlacing between the Dragon and the Tiger. The concept of harmony takes on its full meaning when a site backed by a mountain and surrounded on two sides by ranges of hills allowing its protection against winds for avoiding the dissipation of Chi (or cosmic energy), provides access to a lake or a river where there are  both water and nourrishment and the accumulation of cosmic energies.  This model is found by taking the example of  historic city of Huế.  The enclosure of this latter is a defensive  military structure based on the technique of strengthened fortifications of  renowned engineer, Vaubanand covers near the southern front,   the imperial city delimited by a second square-enclosed area mesuring approximatively  622m x606 m. Therein, one finds the   Forbidden Purple City forming the symbolic heart of the empire in the third and last enclosure, having  nearly  a square in shape  and mesuring 330×324 m. The imbrication of three enclosures refers to the triad  (Thiên, Nhân, Ðịa). Facing to the 105 m high  mountain Royal Screen (or Ngự Bình in Vietnamese)  that, according to the geomancers interpretation (Feng Shui)(Phong Thủy),  is the imperial shield created by  Gods,  the citadel’s southern front including the moon gate (or Ngọ Môn), follows the convex alignment along  the Perfume river (Hương giang). Being similar to the dragon lying in the West, this river undulates and goes up  in the north  by penetrating the soil through small hills and  making a 45°  bend towards the east. It   reachs  firstly  protectives isles Dã  Viên and Cồn Hến  before ending in the sea.  That creates the ideal position (Chi Huyền Thủy) corresponding to the above described scheme with a green Dragon in the West  and a white Tiger in the East. These animals are respectively represented by the shell isles Dã Viên and Cồn Hến  in the face of the natural screen symbolized by the mount of Royal Screen (Núi Ngự Bình). 

The man can affect his own life. By accomplishing acts of caring towards others,  he can find his joy and improves his karma. In ancient times, Vietnam had a sacrificial ceremony named « Nam Giao » or « Tế Giao »  intended  to Heaven and  Earth. It goes back to the king  to pay homage  to Heaven and Earth every year with his deified ancestors on the monumental esplanade built in 1806 in the southern suburb of Huế. One finds in this esplanade a  square mound representating the Earth temple, in the center of which is an other round mound symbolyzing the Heaven temple. Being firstly  subjected in complete isolation and fast,  the king climbs the sacrificial  esplanade and acts on behalf of his people for communicating  with universe natural forces in order to ask them to improve the environment on earth. The king is the only figure eligible for being an intermediary between Earth and Heaven. This Triad (Thiên, Nhân, Địa) has also evoked in Vietnamese legends. One finds the narrator willingness to show the deep attachment  of Vietnamese people to the triad notion in accordance with nature and moral. In  the legend intituled « The God of Mountains and the God of Rivers (Sơn Tinh Thủy Tinh), a girl named Mị nương is requested in marriage by these two geniuses or in the Kitchen genius myth  (Chuyện Táo quân),  one finds a woman torn between  the love of her old husband and that of her new companion. In the betel quid (Trầu Cau), the triad (wife, husband and brother) is represented by the woman, her husband and her twin brother-in-law who, once deceased,  respectively become betel,  arecanut palm  and  limestone.  The betel  quid reflects well the equilibrium notion and harmony found in the Yin and Yang theory.  For preparing the betel quid,  a little of slaked lime is smeared on a betel leaf.  Then one adds some root bark of Artocarpus tonkinese in yellow-orange colour and finally incorporates a areca nut finely sliced. All this  is introduced in the mouth and chewed slowly.  After twenty minutes of chewing, one spits out what remains. Five tastes can  be  found in the betel quid: sweet with areca nut, spicy with betel leaf,  sour with root bark,  salty with lime and acidulous  with saliva.  By the image  of  fresh betel liana coming from Earth symbolized by lime stone and embracing the slender  arecanut palm trunk in this legend, one wants to mention the intermediary   character between the Yin and Yang in a perfect accord.  The old Vietnamese adage says that   the betel quid is the prelude to the conversation (Miếng trầu là đầu câu chuyện).  The acceptation implies heavy consequences and is equivalent to a firm commitment, a word given that no one would  ever  think of taking back. If the exchange has taken place between girl and boy , this is equivalent to a proposal of marriage. In the Vietnamese tradition, the betel quid is the symbol of marital happiness. It cannot be missing in marriage riruels.

In the swamp rice civilization, others trinities are important as the triad (Heaven, Earth, Man). There is the case of  the triad  (Thủy, Hỏa, Thổ) (or (in English  Water-Fire-Soil) or that of the triad (Mộc, Kim, Thổ)(or Wood, Metal, Soil).  One needs soil  for the rice cultivation, water and fertilizers coming from  ashes caused by fire for enriching soils. Likewise, one needs plants for food and metals for making appropriate tools in agriculture.  One oberves that these triads have a common element that is the soil. That is why this latter occupies a central position in the management of 4 cardinal points. There is the pivot around which fourth others elements take place. In  the farm life,  the most important element following the soil is water.  One the habit of hearing from Vietnamese  peasant  the following saying: Nhất nước nhì phân (Firstly water, secondly fertilizers). Being of Yin nature, water is attributed to the northern direction because it is compatible with the cold (winter). On the contrary, being of Yang nature, fire found in the triad (Water-Fire-Soil) is better associated in the  southern direction with the warmth and radiation (summer). The element « Wood » evokes plants, the birthday of which takes place in spring. It derserves to occupy the eastern direction with the development of  Yang. Being  element of malleable character and  taking different forms, Metal is associated to the western direction (autumn).

The Vietnamese are  founding in the Yin and Yang theory a practice of alternation rather than a idea of opposition. Yin and its complementary Yang form an identity that  allows to result in the installation of right balance and harmony. For them,  the word represents  the totality of cyclical  sequences constitued by the combination of two alternating and complementary   events. One knows that in the relation of opposition, Yin as Yang each of them carries within himself or herself the germ of the other. (Không có gì hoàn toàn âm hoặc hoàn toàn dương, trong âm có dương và trong dương có âm).  Yin and  Yang are like  a wheel in motion. By coming at their end, they must start again. Once their limit  is reached,  they go come back again. A lot of popular sayings evoking the law of causality, concretely testify to  the Yin and Yang mutation.

That is why one is accustomed to saying in Vietnamese « Trong cái  rũi có cái may » (In the bad luck, there will have the chance), « Trong cái dỡ  có  cái hay (In what appears to be bad,  one also finds something  good) »,« Trong họa có phúc ( In the misfortune , there will have the happiness) ». « Sướng lắm khổ nhiều (The more one is  satisfied by desire,  the more  one will suffer ) », «Trèo cao ngã đau ( The more one climbs high,  the more one has a painful drop)». « Yêu nhau nhiều cắn nhau đau. The more we are in love, the more  we hurt each other’s feelings». The lost goods  sometimes  are the price of life. There is what the Vietnamese saying clearly expresses: Của đi thay người ( Goods are going out in the place of people). The factors Phúc and Họa have to vary in opposite directions. It’s because of the bipolarity Yin and Yang that the Vietnamese are accustomed to  strike  a good balance in the daily life.  They try to look for a perfect  arrangement with everyone and nature and even beyond their death. There is what one discovers in the necropolis of Lạch Trương (Thanh Hóa) dating from three centuries before J.C. with wooden burial objects (Yang) placed in the northern direction and that in terracotta (Yin)  at the southern  direction (Yang).  This equilibrium notion is even found in pagoda with geniuses of good and evil. (Ông Thiện Ông Ác). It’s thanks to this equilibium philosophy that the Vietnamese have the ability to adapt to any situation, even in the extreme case. It’s also this principle of balance that  Vietnamese leaders have continued to keep in the past during the confrontation with  foreign countries. For avoiding the humiliation of the Mongols twice defeated in Vietnam, General Trần Hưng Đạo proposed to pay tribute to  Koubilai Khan in exchange for lasting peace. After defeating the Ming, the  strategist and advisor  of Lê Lơi king, Nguyễn Trải did not hesitate  to let Wang Toung ( Vương Thông ) come back in China with 13000 captured soldiers and  proposed  a pact of vasselage with a triannual toll  of two  fine metal statues in standard size as compensation for two generals died in combat. Likewise,  Quang Trung king, guided by humility, sent an emissary to seek peace with Qianlong emperor after defeating the Qing army at Hànội in 1788 for a very short period of time.(6 days).  One cannot forget the conducting and flexibility carried out by communist leaders in diplomacy during the confrontation with the  French and  Americans. The  Geneva (1954) and Paris (1972) agreements once more testify  of the  search for balance or the middle way that the Vietnamese have found with ingenuity   in the Yin and Yang theory. In Vietnam,  the circular shaped objects (hình tròn)  are integrated  in the Yang and square shaped objects (hình vuông) in the Yin. It is the tendancy dating back  to the period when one believed that the sky was round and the soil  square and flat. The Vietnamese  were obliged to square the latter before using it in the plowing and house construction. It is in the state of mind that the Bai Yue ( to which the Proto-Vietnamese belonged ) had the habit of dividing a portion of land into nine  lots by taking for model the character   tĩnh (giếng nước). The central lot was expected for the construction of a water well and eight remaining lots were  destined for the housing construction, which is the first housing unit in the agricultural society.  The following Vietnamese popular saying: trời xanh như tán lọng tròn ; đất kia chằn chặn như bàn cờ vuông (The blue skue  ressembles  a round   parasol as this perfect soil similar to the square chessboard ) reflects this popular belief. NEXT (More reading Part 2)


Bibilography

–Alain Thote: Origine et premiers développements de l’épée en Chine.
–Cung Ðình Thanh: Trống đồng Ðồng Sơn : Sự tranh luận về chủ quyền trống đồng giữa học giã Việt và Hoa.Tập San Tư Tưởng Tháng 3 năm 2002 số 18. 
-Brigitte Baptandier : En guise d’introduction. Chine et anthropologie. Ateliers 24 (2001). Journée d’étude de l’APRAS sur les ethnologies régionales à Paris en 1993.
-Nguyễn Từ Thức : Tãn Mạn về Âm Dương, chẳn lẻ (www.anviettoancau.net) 
-Trần Ngọc Thêm: Tìm về bản sắc văn hóa Việt-Nam. NXB : Tp Hồ Chí Minh Tp HCM 2001. 
-Nguyễn Xuân Quang: Bản sắc văn hóa việt qua ngôn ngữ việt (www.dunglac.org)
-Georges Condominas : La guérilla viêt. Trait culturel majeur et pérenne de l’espace social vietnamien, L’Homme 2002/4, N° 164, p. 17-36. 
-Louis Bezacier: Sur la datation d’une représentation primitive de la charrue. (BEFO, année 1967, volume 53, pages 551-556) …..

 

 

 

Sacrifice (English version)

Version Française

sacrifice_1f

Life is a game of chance. The chance is against us. It’s worth dying now for the country and set an example of sacrifice

Nguyễn Thái Học

Vietnam is not only a land of legends and learned men but also a land that men have acquired acre by acre in a crual mother nature for more than four thousand years. The cradle of the Vietnamese nation, the delta of Tonkin bordered by mild hills of the Hundred Thousands Mounts of China and squeezed in the South by a quasi impenetrable range, the Annamitic Cordillera, reduced to 15,000 km2 but rich of all the mud pulled out by the Red river, continues to be threathened by the latter with the discharge of 500m3 at low tide up to 3500m3 during the highest crests.

To master the blows of sword of the Red River, the Vietnamese people resort to a method of building dikes, which requires not only an increased watch of dikes but also a perpetual struggle. Facing the never-ending change of nature, the caprice of the Red river and the territorial ambitions of China, the Vietnamese people owe their safety at the cost not only of their labor and courage but also of their sacrifice in the long march toward the South.

This sacrifice is not foreign to the majority of Vietnamese in particular the men and women of character. It also becomes a cult that one likes to maintain and ceaselessly praise for Vietnam to excite the whole people before the threat of foreigners.

The sacrifice is the surest way to maintain the perfection of the homeland but it is also the synonym of loyalty and dignity. A great person is the one who dares take the responsibilities in moments of difficulty in his or her life but it is also the one who knows how to sacrifice himself or herself for a good cause, in particular for his or her country. The sacrifice is indispensable to the word « honor » in Vietnam.

Because of this moral dignity, many military people prefered suicide to surrender (Trưng Trắc, Trưng Nhị, Trần Bình Trọng, Võ Tánh etc..). That is why it is the habit to say:

Hùm chết để da, người chết để tiếng.
A dead tiger leaves its hide, a deceased person his reputation. 
The history of Vietnam is also that of sacrifices. The duty of a Vietnamese is to serve his or her country wholehreatedly. The greater the danger, the better his or her loyalty seems to be.

 

 

Heroes sacrifice for their fatherland. No matter what happens, his honor is never tainted. It is the case of the scholar Phan Thanh Giản, signatory of the Franco-Vietnamese treaty of 1868. After having failed to put up with the French in the defense of the three western provinces of the Mekong delta (Vĩnh Long, An Giang and Hà Tiên) he chose to surrender and decided to poison himself in 1967 because he thought it was the only way to save the people and to show his fidelity to emperor Tự Ðức. The same, Nguyễn Tri Phương (1873), adversary of Francis Garnier and Hoàng Diệu (1882), adversary of Henri Rivière preferred suicide after having failed to defend Hànội city.

During the French occupation, sacrifice became the flame of hope lit by unknown people such as Nguyễn Trung Trực, Phạm Hồng Thái. The former accepted to die in the stead of his mother captured after having succeeded in blowing up the French « Espérance » on its passage on the « Nhựt Tảo » river in Long An while the latter, chased by the Chinese police in his escape, preferred to throw himself in the river after having failed to assassinate the French governor Merlin during his passage by Canton in 1924. Admiror of his courage and sacrifice for his fatherland, the governor of Canton later buried his remains in a cemetery solely reserved for the 72 Chinese heroes and known as « Hoàng Hoa Cương » in Vietnamese. 

If this sacrifice is not a vain word for men, it carries a particular meaning for the Vietnamese women. Princess Huyền Trân of the Trần dynasty was proposed to become in 1306 the wife of king Chế Mẫn (Jaya Simhavarman)  in exchange of the two territories of Champa Chau Ô and Châu Rí. She had to sacrifice her life, her love for reason of State.

The same, three centuries later, a princess of the Nguyễn dynasty, of the name Ngọc Vạn to whom the word « Cochinchina » or (Cô chín xin) was attributed, was not late in following Huyen Tran’s footsteps in becoming the concubine of Cambodian king Prea Chey Chetta II in 1618 in exchange of the facilities granted to Vietnamese in their settlement in the region Ðồng Nai Mô Xoài which is no other than the Saigon-Cholon region today.

Her presence on the Cham soil served as a pretext for lord Nguyễn Phúc Tần to launch an expedition and annex the last territory of Champa in 1651. One cannot blame the Cham for hating princess Ngoc Khoa at that time because of her, they have lost their homeland. But Ngọc Khoa illustrates for us Vietnamese the sublime sacrifice she consented for her country and her people.

 

 

 

Con rồng cháu Tiên (English version)

French version

 Long time ago, Vietnam was a country half-wild, half-cultured, infested with wild beasts that cohabitated with men in deep caves in the forest. Lived then a young man named Lạc Long Quân intelligent and endowed with extraordinary powers. In his vein flowed a bloodstream mixed with the blood of the Dragons form Bách Việt country. During his travels through mountains and valleys, he arrived at a maritime region of southeast Lac Việt. Seeing the population decimated by a marine monster, he took a spear that he got red hot in fire and threw in the mouth of the monster killing it. He cut its body in three pieces which he threw into three different places that received three geographical names: the head became a mountain named Cầu Dầu Sơn, the body Cầu Dầu Thủy and the tail the name of Bạch Long Vỹ.

Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ

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Once the people of Lac Viet in peace, the hero headed for the Long Bien region where its inhabitants were terrorized by a fox which became a monster. The latter often turned itself into a young man to enter villages taking away women and young girls. Lac Long Quan had to fight for three days and three nights before beating the monster and entering its cave to free his survivors. Arriving at the Phong Châu area, he confronted the monster of trees so ferocious he had to turn to his father Kinh Dương Vương to chase it to the South. After having brought peace to the three countries, he was so moved by compassion for such an unfortunate and simple people. He decided to stay to protect and teach them how to grow rice, cook it, cut trees to build homes that sheltered them from rain, wind and savage beasts. He educated them in the family virtues of parents and spouses. The people revered him and considered him as their Chief. They also considered him as their father, the one who gave them their lives.

Before he joined his mother in the Palace of Waters, he recommended to his people, in case of misfortune, to call him aloud: Father. And he would come back right away. Some time later, the Lord of the High Regions of the North, Ðế Lai, leading his troops, invaded Lac Viet while bringing with him his delightful daughter Âu Cơ. De Lai oppressed and fleeced the people who had to supply his army with meat and rice. In distress people called: Father, come back and save us. Lạc Long Quân was on the spot, but did not find De Lai. Au Cơ was there alone, out for a walk amid her servants. Dazzled by her beauty, he took Au Cơ to his palace. Au Cơ herself, charmed by the young man, consented to live with him. Ðế Lai, coming back in rage, sent his troops out to besiege the town.

But Lac Long Quan commanded savage beasts to push him back. Incapable of struggling against such a strong son-in-law, Ðế Lai withdrew from Lạc Việt, leaving his daughter on the strange land.

Lac Long Quân with the monster

Amid their happiness, Au Cơ brought to the world a big pouch from which got out one hundred eggs that gave birth to one hundred sons as robust as their father. When came the time to separate and return to his mother, Lạc Long Quân told his wife Au Cơ : « You are of the race of Immortals. I am of that of the Dragons. We cannot stay together for the rest of our lives. You need to live up high. I need to live down by the sea. So you stay here with fifty children. I will bring the other fifty to the maritime region, we settle on the same land ». From then on, Au Cơ stayed in the mountains with her fifty children. Those became the ancestors of all the peoples living nowadays on high plateaus and mountains (these are the montagnards and minorities ). As for Lạc Long Quân, he descended on the plain, by the sea, with his children that he taught how to clear the land to establish a kingdom there. His eldest son became thus the first king of Vietnam and took the dynastic name of Hùng Vương and called his country Văn Lang.

That’s why Vietnamese are proud of being  » Children of the Dragon, Grandchildren of the Immortal »
(Con Rồng Cháu Tiên).