Thousands of years ago in the country of Linh Nam, there lived a clan chief with superhuman strength called Loc Tuc who took the title of King Kinh Duong. Endowed with magical powers, he could walk as easily on water as on land.
One day, during a walk on Lake Dong Dinh, he met Long Nu, daughter of King Long Vuong (Dragon). From their union, a son was born who received the name Sung Lam. As he grew up, Sung Lam revealed his herculean strength, lifting a stone block like a piece of straw that two men could not manage to encircle with their arms. Sung Lam also inherited the supernatural gifts of his father, succeeded him as leader of the country under the name Lac Long Quan (Dragon, King of the Country of the Lac).
At this time, there was neither order nor peace in Linh Nam and King Lac Long resolved to travel his country from north to south
The Giant Fish
Thus it was that one day he met a fish of extraordinary size in the southern waters. Measuring over hundred feet in length, its tail stood up like a huge sail. It could swallow more than ten men in a single mouthful. When it swam, it raised waves sky-high and boats gliding in the vicinity were at risk of being swept away. The fishermen were very afraid of the demon-fish. It lived in a deep cavern leading to the bottom of the sea and an opening on top of a mountain chain that divided the country into two zones.
King Lac Long wanted to rid the people of this threatening danger. He made a solid boat and forged a block of iron with sharp, white-hot sides. Then he sailed toward the demon's abode. Raising the block above his head, he gave the beast the illusion of throwing a man at him as bait. Then he thrust the burning metal into the enormous open mouth of the creature. Mad with pain, the monster rose up, trying to overturn the boat. But quick as lightning, Lac Long sliced the monster into three pieces with his sword.
At once, the head turned into a dogfish and Lac Long started tearing up lumps of the shore and made a dike to keep the animal from escaping. Cutting off the head, he threw it onto the mountain that has ever since been called Cau Dau Son (Mountain of the Dog's Head).
The body was carried away by the current and landed in the country of Man Cau. As for the tail, skinned by Lac Long, it still envelops the island of Bach Long Vi (Tail of the White Dragon).
Having delivered the area of its monster, King Lac Long pursued his route as far as Long Vien. A task awaited him there
The Nine-Tailed Fox
There was a fox who was more than a thousand years old. He had nine tails and he hid himself in an obscure grotto at the foot of a mountain on the west side of the city. This evil spirit often assumed a human form to mingle with the crowd and to carry away young girls whom he kidnapped for his lair. In the region stretching from Long Bien to Tan Vien Mountain, all the families had, alas, paid their "tribute" to this ignoble being. The population lived in a permanent state of terror. Many were those, who abandoning house, fields and gardens, had carried their households elsewhere.
King Lac Long was filled with deep pity and decided to get rid of this monster as well. Alone and armed with his sword, he went toward the entrance to the grotto. On seeing him, the enemy attacked. Using his magic power, Lac Long called winds, rain and storms to his aid. The fight lasted three days and nights.
Weakened, the monster tried to flee. The king pursued it and cut off its head. Then the monster took its original form and only the body of a nine-tailed fox remained at Lac Long's feet. Entering the grotto, the king released the prisoners, then called on the water powers to destroy this cursed place. The river flowed there in cascading torments, raking the mountain. Whirlwinds produced a deep abyss that the people of the time called "Sea of the Fox's Body" and which is now called Tay Ho (West Lake in Hanoi).
The liberated population returned to their homes and replanted their fields. Peace reigned throughout the region and Lac Long returned to the road through the hills and forests. Thus he came one day to Phong Chau
The Evil Genie of the Forest
There was an old tree called Chien don in the region that was two thousand feet tall, but its formerly luxuriant foliage was withered. The old tree had then been changed into an evil genie of the woods. The inhabitants of the area called it the Demon Tree. It was wicked and played diabolical tricks, ceaselessly changing forms and moving its lair to better surprise its prey and devour it. Continued heart-rending cries and complaints were heard in the forest.
Lac Long left once more to fight against evil. For days and nights, he sneaked in and out of the forest looking from tree to tree for the demon; after much difficulty, he managed to find it.
The fight lasted one hundred days and nights. Thousands of trees were uprooted, innumerable rocks split in half and clouds of dust obscured the sky and land without the evil spirit giving up. Finally, Lac Long had a brilliant idea. He made such a huge noise with gongs, tom-toms and other musical instruments that the terrified demon fled toward the southwest where he no doubt lives today!
The grateful people built a fortress for their benefactor on a high mountain. But Lac Long rarely stayed there, spending part of his life in his mother's submarine palace. However, he had instructed the people to call him if any danger whatsoever menaced them again.
At this time, a northern chieftain called De Lai invaded the south. His gorgeous daughter, Au Co, of a singular beauty, accompanied him. Dazzled by the splendor of the land and the rich variety of the fauna and flora of Linh Nam, he ordered his troops to build a fortress with the aim of settling down there. Unable to endure the heavy work faced by their invader, they turned toward the south to appeal to Lac Long,
"Oh Father! Why do you not come to our aid?"
From the Hundred Eggs to the Eighteen Hung Kings
In the twinkling of an eye, Lac Long came back. He listened to the complaints of his subjects and then suddenly, he changed into the shape of handsome young man and went off to the invader's fortress. The latter was not there; instead, there was an extraordinarily beautiful young girl surrounded by servants and soldiers. It was Au Co.
Captivated by the majesty and distinction of the young prince, she implored him to take her away. And Lac Long escorted her to his mountain fortress. When the invader returned to his home and found his daughter gone, De Lai sent hundreds of soldiers to look for her. But day after day, with his powers, Lac Long was able to cause thousands of savage beasts to be born that thwarted and attacked the enemy troops. Panic-stricken, the invaders fled and their chieftain finally had to withdraw to the north.
Au Co lived with Lac Long for some time and became pregnant. She gave birth to a pouch filled with one hundred eggs, each of which produced a baby boy at the end of seven days. These hundred boys grew amazingly fast and became handsome men surpassing those of the same age in physical strength and intelligence.
For dozens of years, the couple lived in the most complete harmony. But Lac Long always had nostalgia for the submarine palace. One day he said goodbye to his wife and children and, transforming himself into a dragon, took off toward the sea. Au Co and her sons wanted to follow him but, not being able to fly, they sadly took the mountain road again. Days full of sadness passed without news of him. Upset by the memory of her loved one, Au Co stood on the highest summit and turned toward the south. Anguishly, she cried out,
"Oh Lac Long, why don't you return home?"
And Lac Long was immediately at her side. Au Co reproached him softly
"I am a native of the high mountains and large grottos. I have brought a hundred sons into the world in order to live with you in perfect harmony, but this still has not stopped you from leaving us."
Lac Long replied,
"I am of the Dragon race, you are of the Immortals. We cannot live together. We must separate. I am going to leave for the maritime regions with fifty of our children and you will go with the other fifty to the country of the mountains and the forests. We still divide this country between us to run it as best we can."
And they separated. Thus, the hundred boys became the ancestors of the Viets. Only the eldest lived in the Phong Chau and was proclaimed King as Hung Vuong (King Hung). He divided the country into fifteen provinces, each being the cradle of a tribe. Eighteen Hung kings succeeded him on the throne.
The story of Lac Long and Au Co is at the origin of popular beliefs that the Viets are descended from the race of the Dragons and the Tien
Legend of the Water Melon
Once upon a time, the sixth son of King Hung Vuong the Fifth named An-Tiem disobeyed the King's order and was exiled to a deserted island.
The Prince had to build his own shelter, dig a well for water, and fish and hunt animals for food. One day, he found a green fruit as big and round as a ball. He split the fruit into halves and found the inside of the fruit red. He dared not eat it because he was afraid it was poisonous.
Days passed and the dry and sunny season came. It was so hot that all the plants were dry and the well had no water left. One day An-Tiem was so tired and thirsty that he tasted the fruit He found out that it tasted delicious and quenched his thirst. He tried to grow the plant around his house then. Soon the whole island was covered with the green fruit.
An-Tiem carved the island's name and his own on some of the fruit and threw them into the sea. Later, seamen found the strange fruit with An-Tiem's name floating in the sea.
Soon, words about the fruit reached the continent and many merchants tried to find the way the island. This then turned the deserted island into a busy island. The island was now crowded. Many boats came and went. An-Tiem helped anyone who wanted settle on the island. Soon, news about that reach the King.
King Hung Vuong was very proud of having a son who was brave and strong enough to overcome difficulties without anyone's help. An-Tiem was immediately summoned back to the court. He brought his fruit with him to offer the King, his father. The King gave him his crown and An-Tiem became King Hung Vuong VI.
Since then the fruit which was called "dua hau" and has become the symbol of luck; people often offer it to relatives and friends as a New Year present
Story of the rice cake in Tet holiday
Emperor Hung-Vuong had many sons. Some pursued literary careers. Others excelled in martial arts. The youngest prince named Tiet - Lieu, however, loved neither. Instead, he and his wife and their children chose the countryside where they farmed the land.
One day, toward the end of the year, the emperor met with all his sons. He told them whoever brought him the most special and unusual food would be made the new emperor. Almost immediately, the princes left for their homes and started looking for the most delicious food to offer the emperor. Some went hunting in the forests and brought home birds and animals which they prepared into the most palatable dishes. Some others sailed out to the open sea, trying to catch fish, lobsters and other much loved sea food. Neither the rough sea nor the violent weather could stop them from looking for the best gifts to please the emperor.
In his search, Tiet-Lieu went back to the countryside. He saw that the rice in his paddy fields was ripe and ready to be harvested, Walking by a glutinous rice field, he picked some golden grains on a long stalk. He brought them close to his nose and he could smell a delicate aroma.
His entire family then set out to harvest the rice, Tiet-Lieu himself ground the glutinous rice grains into fine flour. His wife mixed it with water into a soft paste. His children helped by building a fire and wrapping the cakes with leaves. In no time, they finished, and in front of them lay two kinds of cakes: one was round and the other was square in shape.
The round cake was made with glutinous rice dough and was called "banh day" by Tiet-Lieu. He named the square shaped cake "banh chung" which he made with rice, green beans wrapped in leaves. Everybody was extremely happy with the new kind of cakes.
On the first day of Spring, the princes took the gifts of their labor and love to the emperor. One carried a delicious dish of steamed fish and mushrooms. Another brought with him a roasted peacock and some lobsters. All the food was beautifully cooked.
When it was Tiet-Lieu's turn to present his gifts, he carried the "banh chung" and his wife carried the "banh day" to the emperor. Seeing Tiet-Lieu's simple offerings, other princes sneered at them. But after tasting all the food brought to court by his sons, the emperor decided that the first prize should be awarded to Tiet-Lieu.
The emperor then said that his youngest son's gifts were not only the purest, but also the most meaningful because Tiet-Lieu had used nothing except rice which was the basic foodstuff of the people to make them. The emperor gave up the throne and make Tiet-Lieu the new emperor. All the other princes bowed to show respect and congratulated the new emperor
Rice cake (or Banh Chung) and Banh Day are two types of delicacies which are very popular with the Vietnamese people. Banh Day is served regularly at festivals and ceremonies. It is a rounded, convex cake of glutinous or nep rice, which resembles white dough, soft and sticky. Its cupola-shaped top is said to resemble the shape of the heavenly vault. Banh Chung is served particularly at Vietnamese New Year's festival, which occurs during the first three days of the first month of the lunar calendar. It is a square cake, wrapped in banana leaves and tied with lacings of flexible bamboo slivers. It is a very rich food for the interior contains a filling of bean paste to which may be added small bits of pork meat, both fat and lean. This filling, which is amply seasoned, is pressed between layers of glutinous rice. Its square shape is considered a symbol of the thankfulness of the Vietnamese people for the great abundance of the Earth, which has supplied them with nutritious food throughout the four seasons of the year
Love Story of My Chau and Trong Thuy
After helping An DuongVuong - king of Au Lac nation - build Co Loa citadel, saint Kim Qui* offered him one of his claws to make a trigger of crossbow to protect the citadel from enemies.
As the saint's words this crossbow was magic one. Every arrow shot from the crossbow with magic trigger would hit a thousand of enemies at the same time.
The king chose Cao Lo, one of the mandarin's household butlers, who was the most skillful crossbow maker in the country to be in charge of the heavy responsibility. However, this kind of weapon only suited to athletes to use. The king extremely treasured the crossbow so he hung it in his sleeping room.
At that time, Trieu Da was the governor of a country adjoining Au Lac at the north. He had failed to occupy his neighboring nation for many times so he tried to guard his country by all means and waited for the right time. He then sent his son named Trong Thuy to Au Lac to seek a marriage alliance.
Trong Thuy then met My Chau, a dear daughter of An Duong Vuong. She was the most graceful lady of the country at that time. They were soon in love with each other and to be side by side to every where in the citadel. Witness the passionate love of the young couple, the king doubtlessly allowed Trong Thuy to take his dear daughter as a wife.
One night, when sitting in the garden in the moonlight, Trong Thuy asked his wife why there was no one who could defeat the country and if there was a secret. Honestly the innocent princess replied her husband that there was nothing but solid defence works in the citadel and a crossbow with a magic trigger which was kept in the king sleeping room. Trong Thuy was so surprise as if it had been the first time he heard that. The princess immediately took the crossbow out and showed it to the man. She also told him the way to use the crossbow.
One day later, Trong Thuy asked the king for permission to visit his father. He retold his father what he had known and they all agreed to find someone to make trigger reproduction. Finally Trong Thuy came back; he was offered a feast to celebrate the occasion of reunite. Trong Thuy drunk half-heartedly while An Duong Vuong and the princess so enjoyed the feast that they both were drunk at the end. Catching the chance, Trong Thuy secretly broke into the king's room and exchanged the magic trigger by a false one.
Once again Trong Thuy asked the king for permission for returning to his country for some days. The two then were loath to path with each other. Trong Thuy said to his beloved wife that he had to come back to depart a trip to the remove place in the North and it was hard to know when they could met again because of the troubled times. The poor wife released her husband that she had a fur coat so she would make marks on the way she went through with fur in order that he could find her. She then sobbed her heart out.
In a few days time Trieu Da rose troops to Au Lac. When hearing the news, An Duong Vuong didn't take any precaution against. He waited until the enemy reached to the citadel and asked his butler to bring the crossbow to fight back. Unfortunately it wasn't magic one. The citadel at last was occupied; An Duong Vuong had to evade with his dear daughter on a horse's back. The princess remembered what she had told to her husband before they separated so she took the fur coat along with her and marked the way with fur.
King An Duong Vuong and his daughter were on the horse's back for days, they had went through many rocky mountains and many bumpy paths and reach to the seashore while the enemy was tracing behind them. The king got down, turned his face to the sea and prayed saint Kim Qui with supplication. A whirlwind rose to replied the king's words. After that the saint appeared and told him that the enemy was at his back. An Duong Vuong woke up to reality. He drew sword out and cut off his dear daughter's head then jumped into the sea.
Trong Thuy at that time followed the marks to the seashore and found his wife lying dead on the grass with her unchangeable appearance. He burst out crying then buried her in the citadel and jumped into the well where his wife usually washed her hair.
Nowadays, in Co Loa village, there were a temple of King An Duong Vuong and a well called Trong Thuy's in front of the temple. It is said that when My Chau died, her blood leaked into the sea, oyster ate it then born precious pearl. If this kind of pearl was washed by water from Trong Thuy's well, it would be much brighter
Shoot at The Moon
A long time ago, three were no stars or moon; only the sun. When the sun went down, everything would sink into darkness. Once night, a glowing moon suddenly appeared. The moon was so hot, it set everything on fire. In the evening, the hot moon made the weather misty and muggy. Nobody could sleep.
“My God!” muttered the people, their breath panting. “We don’t need such a fatally hot moon like this! Let’s shoot it down!”
At that time, at the foot of Lon mountain, there lived a couple. The husband, An, was a skilled hunter in the mountain’s forests. The wife, Ninh, was very proficient in weaving fabric.
One day, Ninh told An, “You’re a skilled bowman. So go and shoot the moon down to save mankind!” An agreed. He took his bow and arrows and climbed up to the top of Lon mountain. He concentrated, aimed, and shot at the moon, but the arrow fell down halfway there. He shot again a hundred times, but in vain.
When An had no more arrows left, the moon was still burning in the sky. An looked down on the mountain’s foot and saw that the trees were dried and that the people had heat stoke. “So sad,” he sighed. Suddenly there was a loud clack and the rock behind him opened up, revealing a doorway. A snowy-haired old man walked out and said:
“Southern Mountain has big tigers, Northern Mountain has tall deer. Want to be strong? Eat tiger meat, eat deer meat! Make a bow from a tiger’s tail and tendon! Make an arrow from deer’s antlers, then you will shoot the moon down.”
As the rock doorway began to close, the old man stepped back and disappeared into the mountain.
Determined to follow the old man’s instructions, An went back home and consulted with his wife to find out however to catch a tiger and a deer.” You are a skilled archer. Why don’t you shoot them with your bow and arrow?” suggested Ninh.
“I tried” An explained. “But the Southern Mountain tigers and Northern Mountain deer have thick skin that my arrows can’t pierce. The only way is to use a large net. But where can we find a good one?” Ninh thought for a while, touching her hair, and then replied:” Weave my hair into a big huge net.”
After weaving the net, the couple went to the Southern Mountain, encircled the tiger’s cave, and caught the big tiger when it ventured out for food. The tiger resisted violently, but An killed the tiger and carried it’s body home. Ninh and An went to the Northern Mountain, and used the same scheme to catch the deer. After eating all the tiger and the deer meat, An felt his strength rise up a thousand times. As the old man in the mountain advised, An fashioned a bow from the tiger’s tail and tendons, then carved arrows from the deer’s antlers. An climbed up Lon mountain once again. He concentrated, aimed, and shot. The arrow flew up high and, and when it hit, pieces of the moon exploded out, turning into stars. An shot at the moon continuously with his antler arrows. After one hundred attempts, the moon began to spin. But it was still hot, dying up plants and the life on earth.
Turning home, An felt defeated. He asked his wife: “My dear, what can I do now? The Moon is still burning. I wish I had something to cover the moon up with.” Ninh was busy embroidering a picture of a family. On the embroidered silk, there was a pretty house, a yellow cinnamon tree, and herd’s sheep and rabbits eating grass in a field. Ninh has created her own image sitting at the cinnamon-tree’s foot, and she was about to stitch in an image of her husband. Hearing An’s distraught voices, Ninh sad:” My darling, shoot this embroidered silk at the moon to cover its burning glow. An did as his wife advised and he was successful.
Once covered, the moon did not burn, but just shined lightly. At the foot of Lon mountain, the people celebrated An with happiness. Pleased, An gazed up at the moon. Suddenly, he saw the images in the embroidered picture begin to shift. He glanced over and saw his wife flying up to the moon, to become the woman that she had embroidered. Watching Ninh fly away, An was panic-stricken: “Ninh! Why didn’t you embroider my image too? Come back here to me!”
Up on the moon, Ninh was frightened too. She plaited her hair into a long braid. She waited until the moon passed over Lon mountain, then she dropped her braid down, and let her husband climb up to the moon. From then on, the embroidery’s images carried on: Ninh always sat at the cinnamon tree weaving silk and An always was in the field tending sheep, their lives passing by happily
The Moon Boy
Long, long time ago there was a clever boy whose name was Cuoi. He did nothing with his cleverness but to play trick on people around him. He lived with his uncle and aunt who were usually suffered from his cheats.
Once day Cuoi came to the field and broke the bad new to the uncle that his wife had fell down from the ladder and bled. The man was so frighten that he ran to his home without saying a word. Cuoi at that time reached the house before his poor uncle by a short cut then broke another bad new to his aunt that her husband was collided by the buffalo and was going to died. The poor woman was scared and immediately ran out to the field. Suddenly she bumped to a man and recognized that it was her husband who was panting and sweating like her. The poor couple came back with anger and decided to imprison him into a bamboo cage then drifted him in the river.
In the afternoon when Cuoi was carried to the river's bank, he regretfully said sorry to them and asked them to come back home to bring him a book hidden behind the basket of rice that taught him telling lie as the last favour. They both agreed and returned home to satisfy their curiosity without saying a word.
After that Cuoi saw a blind man passed by. He then asked the man to untight the cage if he wanted to have his eyes cured. At last Cuoi was free and hid himself in a bamboo grave and luckily found a jar of gold. He came back and gave it to his uncle and his aunt to atone for faults while the poor blind man was waiting for his eyes treated.
Later Cuoi got married with a girl in the village and went on pulling people's leg. Once morning he came into the forest and saw a tiger mother picking leaves from a kind of tree to cure her son's wound. Immediately the wound was recovered and the tiger baby could follow his mother to continue their trip. Cuoi grasped the opportunity to uproot the tree and rose it in the garden behind his house. He called the tree Banyan and took good care to it. He always reminded his wife that the tree was magic one so it was impossible to pour dirty water or dump the garbage at its root otherwise it would fly to the heaven. His poor wife sometimes envied with the tree so she dumped garbage at the tree root once day.
When Cuoi came home he found the tree was shaking and flying higher and higher in the sky. He tried to hold its root to pull it back but he couldn't. The tree actually pulled him farther and farther from the earth until it reached the moon.
It is said that there is still image of Cuoi sitting at the root of Banyan tree and looking down to see the world and there is also a Vietnamese saying " lie as Cuoi"
Chu Dong Tu and Princess Tien Dung
The legend that follows is one of the oldest of Vietnam, reputedly going back to the early years of the semi-legendary Hong Bang dynasty. It is probably of Taoist inspiration and affirms a belief in genie and immortals.
The third King Hung Vuong had a beautiful daughter named Tien-Dung (Divine Beauty), who, although of fairy-like loveliness, was endowed with a whimsical nature. Despite her father's entreaties, she rejected every offer of marriage, preferring, as she said, to remain single in order to satisfy her passion for visiting the many beautiful sites of her father's kingdom, known as Van Lang. As the king loved his daughter tenderly, he tried to please her in every way possible, even placing at her disposal a number of vessels including the royal barge, so that she could navigate the rivers of the realm.
At that time, in the village of Chu Xa (Hung Yen province), lived Chu Cu-Van and his son Chu Dong-Tu (Marsh Boy). They were poor fishermen whose home had been ruined by fire. They had lost all their clothing except a single loincloth, which they took turns wearing. When Chu Cu-Van fell seriously ill and felt death approaching, he called his son to the side of his mat.
"After my death," he said, "keep this loincloth for thyself."
But Chu Dong-Tu was a pious son and could not let his old father be buried without shroud. He attended the funeral in borrowed clothes and then found himself without a garment of any kind. The poor young fisherman was obliged to do his fishing at night. During the day he would attempt to sell his catch to the people in the boats passing along the river, remaining immersed in the water up to his waist. One day, Princess Tien Dung, then in her twentieth year, accompanied by a brilliant suite, happened to approach the very place where Chu Dong-Tu was standing in the water. When the young fisherman heard the sound of gongs and bells and perceived the wonderful array of parasols and banners, he became frightened and took cover behind some bulrushes. Then he quickly dug a hole in the sand and covered himself so completely that only his nose was exposed.
Taking a liking to the picturesque surroundings, the princess expressed a desire to bathe there. A tent was set up on the shore. The princess entered, disrobed, and began to pour water over her head and shoulders. As the water trickled to the ground, it washed away some of the sand, exposing Chu Dong-Tu in all his nakedness.
"Who are you?" asked the princess. "What are you doing here?"
"Your Royal Highness," replied the frightened youth, not daring to raise his eyes, "I am only a poor fisherman. Having no garment with which to clothe myself, I was forced to hide in the sand at the approach of the royal barge. Will you not pardon my error?"
Princess Tien Dung dressed in haste and threw a remnant of cloth to the young man so that he could cover himself. Then she questioned him in great detail about his past life. Hardship had not marred Chu Dong-Tu's handsome features, and the princess was not displeased with his demeanor. After some deliberation, she reached a decision.
"I had not expected to marry," she said with a sigh, "but Heaven has ordained this meeting. I cannot oppose Heaven's Will." She immediately ordered all her officers and ladies to come forward. When they had assembled, she told them of the extraordinary adventure that had just befallen her. Then she announced that it was her intention to marry the young man.
"But Your Royal Highness," cried Chu Dong-Tu on hearing these words, "how can I, a penniless fisherman, be the husband of a royal princess?"
"It has been predestined," replied the young woman; "therefore, there can be no reservations about the matter."
"Long live Their Royal Highnesses." cried the officers and ladies in chorus.
Chu Dong-Tu was properly clothed and groomed and the royal wedding took place that same evening with great pomp. But when King Hung-Vuong learned of it, he became furious and shouted angrily at his courtiers.
"In marrying a vagabond," he said, "Tien Dung has dishonored her rank of royal princess. She is to be disinherited and forever banned from my court." The princess had no desire to face her father's wrath. In order to provide for her husband and herself, she decided to go into business. She sold her junks and her jewels, bought some land at a crossroads near the village of Chu Xa, and established a trading post. Visited by merchant vessels from the entire kingdom of Van Lang and from countries overseas as well, the village prospered and in time became a great emporium.
One day, a foreign merchant advised the princess to send an agent across the sea to purchase some rare merchandise that could then be sold at a tenfold profit. Chu Dong-Tu was charged with this mission and together with the foreign merchant left by sea. On reaching the island of Quynh Vien, they met a Taoist priest who immediately recognized the sign of immortality on Chu Dong-Tu's forehead. The former fisherman then entrusted his gold to the foreign merchant and remained on the island for one year in order to be initiated into the secrets of the Way (Dao).
On the day of Chu Dong-Tu's departure, the priest gave his disciple a pilgrim's staff and a conical hat made of palm leaves. He advised him never to be without them.
"This staff will give you support," he said, "but it is worth much more. The hat will protect you from the rain and also from harm. Both have supernatural power."
On returning to Chu Xa, Chu Dong-Tu converted his wife to Taoism. They repented their earthly sins, abandoned their possessions, and left in search of a deserted place, where they would be able to devote themselves entirely to a study of the True Doctrine.
All day they stumbled on through the wilds and at last fell to the earth exhausted. But before lying down to sleep, Chu Dong-Tu planted his staff in the ground and on it hung the conical hat.
The couple had been asleep only a few moments before being awakened by a crash of thunder. They sat up between flashes of lightning and saw a magic citadel suddenly rise from the earth. It was complete with jade-and-emerald palaces, public buildings, and houses for the inhabitants. Mandarins, both civil and military, courtiers, soldiers, and servants came forward to welcome them to the city, begging them to rule over the new kingdom. Chu Dong-Tu and his wife entered their palace and began a reign of peace and prosperity.
When King Hung-Vuong learned of the existence of the magic citadel, he thought that his daughter had rebelled against his authority and was desirous of founding a new dynasty. He assembled an army and ordered his generals to destroy the rival kingdom. The people of the citadel urged the princess to give them weapons so that they might defend her territory.
"No," she said, "I do not intend to defend this citadel by force of arms. Heaven created it and Heaven has sent my father's army against it. In any case, how can a daughter oppose her father's will? I must submit to the inevitable."
That evening King Hung-Vuong's army camped on the bank of the river opposite the magic citadel. His generals planned to attack the following morning. But at midnight a terrible storm arose and the entire citadel with all its inhabitants was seen to rise into the air and disappear. The next morning the royal army found only a marshy pond and a sandy beach at its former sight. The pond received the name of Dam Nhat Da, which means "Pond Formed in One Night", the beach was called "Spontaneous Beach", or Bai Tu-Nhien
The Legend of the Milky Way
Once upon a time there lived a very beautiful and charming princess, named Chuc-Nu. She was one of the many daughters of the King of Heaven.
Chuc-Nu was a very hard-working lady and she was often seen sitting on the shore of the Silver River to sew clothes for her younger sisters.
One day a young man herded his buffaloes to the river. His name was Nguu-Lang. He was very handsome. He fell in love with the princess at first sight, and she loved him, too. The King of Heaven, fully aware of their love, consented for her daughter to marry Nguu-Lang. But the couple had to promise to continue their work after their marriage.
They enjoyed being married so much the forgot their promise. The King became furious and ordered them to separate. Each of them would live on one side of the river and could only look at each other from across the river. The King allowed them to meet once a year in the seventh month of the lunar year. This month is called "The Month of Sudden and Short Showers". When they meet each other, they usually cry for joy. They cry even more bitterly when it is time for separation.
That is why it rains torrentially at the beginning of the seventh lunar month in Vietnam. If you happen to be in the countryside during this month, you do not expect to find any ravens. They are believed to have flown to the sky to help carry the bridge across the river for the reunion of Chuc-Nu and Nguu-Lang and if you look at the sky on clear nights, you may see the Silver River which looks like a long milky white strip. Therefore, it is called "Ngan ha" (The Milky Way)
The Magic Crossbow
Thanks to the magic bow given by a god, king An Duong Vuong succeeded in defeating the Chinese army. Not being able to fight in weapons on the same footing with his army, general Tri?u Ðà had to make peace and send his son Tr?ng Th?y to the court of Âu Lac
Trong Thuy succeeded in winning the heart of king An DuongVuong's daughter and so became the close adviser to the king. Despite of the affection and love he brought to his wife, Trong Thuy did not lose sight of his mission vested in him by his father: neutralize the magic weapon that helped assure king An DuongVuong supremacy. This miraculous device was well guarded at a place known only by the king and his daughter. The latter, after many insistences of Trong Thuy, showed him the magic weapon whose the trigger was made of the Golden Turtle's claw. Taking advantage of a moment of inattention of the princess, Trong Thuy succeeded in unhooking the Golden Turtle's claw and replace it with an imitation. Then, shortly after that, using his father's ill health as a pretext he asked the king for permission to return to his country.
Before his departure, he asked his wife " How could we find each other in case of a sudden separation?". "You could find me easily in emergency, I will throw on my way the goose down of my coat", she replied to him.
Convinced that the magic weapon no longer possessed its devastating quality, the Chinese general launched offensive attacks on kingdom Au Lac. Always confident in the power of his magic bow, king An DuongVuong went for his weapon to destroy his enemy. Realizing that the weapon had been detracted, the king fled on horseback taking his daughter with him behind, in the direction of the sea. Arriving near the shore, he called out :" God of Golden Turtle, please come for help!". The god appeared at once and pointing his index finger at the king he said "The enemy is behind you, on the back of your horse".
The king looked back, saw his daughter with a trail of white feathers scattered on the road he had taken. Furious, he pulled out his sword, killed My Chau and followed the god of Golden Turtle to the sea. Guided by the goose down, Tr?ng Thuy found the body of his wife, dead on the beach. The blood that flowed down was swallowed by oysters and turned into pearls. Desperate, Trong Thuy took his wife's body to Co Loa and committed suicide by jumping in a well near the tomb of M? Chau
The Mountain of the Woman who is Waiting for Her Husband
Long time ago, in a village on the highland region, lived two orphans, one was a young man about twenty years old, the other was his seven years old sister. Because they were alone in this world, they were all one for the other. On a beautiful day,
On a beautiful morning, he found his wife sitting in the back yard drying her long black hair under the sunshine. At the time when she glided the comb on her hair that she lifted with her other hand, he discovered a long scar above the back of her neck. Surprised, he asked her for its cause. Hesitating, she began to tell the story crying:
I am only the adoptive daughter of the merchant. Orphaned, I lived with my brother who, fifteen years ago for unknown reasons, injured me with a blow of an ax and abandoned me in the forest. I was rescued by the robbers who sold me to this merchant who had just lost his daughter and who was sorry for my situation. I don't know what happened to my brother and it is hard for me to explain his insensitive act. However we love each other so much.
The husband overcame his emotion and asked his wife for information concerning her father's and brother's names and her native village. Taken by remorse while keeping for himself the frightening secret, he was ashamed and horrified himself. He tries to stay away from his wife and his son by taking advantage of the military draft to enroll in the army and hoping to find the delivery on the battleground.
From the day of his departure, in ignorance of the truth, his wife waited for him with patience and resignation. Every evening, she took her son in her arms and climbed up the mountain looking out for the return of her husband. She made the same gesture for entire years. On a beautiful day, reaching the top of the mountain, exhausted and stayed standing, her eyes fixed to the horizon, she was changed into rock and immobile in her eternal wait.
This mountain, known as "Núi V?ng Phu" (or The Mountain of the Woman who is waiting for her husband ) is located not far from L?ng Son, quite close to the Sino-Vietnamese border. At the top of the mountain is a rock bearing the shape of a standing woman holding her child in her arms. This resemblance is striking when the sun sets on the horizon. The tale of this mountain is so touching it becomes thus one of the legends preferred by Vietnamese and gives so much inspiration to Vietnamese poets
The Golden Star Fruit Tree
Once upon a time, there was a very rich man who lived in a village. When he died, he left his two sons a huge fortune. But the two brothers were entirely different.
The elder was greedy, but the younger was very kind. So after the parents' death, the elder claimed the fortune and left his younger brother only star fruit tree. (A very productive tree that gives sour fruit.) The younger brother took good care of his tree, watering it every day and hoping that it would give him a lot of fruit so that he could make a living by selling it. The elder brother, on the other hand, was so happy with his inheritance that he had nothing to worry about.
Chargined, the wife lamented: " Poor us. As poor as we are, the only thing we count much on was what that star fruit tree brings us; now look, this bird ravaged it all. We will probably know starvation". Miracle! The raven upon hearing those lamentations, perched down and replied in a human voice: " Star fruits I eat, with gold I pay, be ready with a three-foot bag and follow me to get it". Afraid the woman ran in the hut to look for her husband. They discussed and decided to sew the bag according to the indicated size, waiting for the return of the bird. A few days later, the bird came back, ate all the star fruits then got down from the tree to invite the husband to take a seat on its back with the bag. Then they disappeared together in the horizon.
Frightened, the younger brother closed his eyes. The bird took him very far before landing on a deserted island, full of precious stones. He was free to take whatever he could. He filled the bag and the raven took him back to his home. From then on, the couple knew opulence, lived in luxury places. They often gave help to the poor. On the occasion of the commemoration of his parents' death, the couple invited the elder brother to come over. Full of despise of his younger brother, the elder look for a pretext to decline and aksed that the younger carpet the road with mats and adorn the gate with gold if he wanted to receive him.
Respectful of his elder brother, the younger complied with the latter's wish. The elder brother and his wife were surprised to see the younger couple's opulence and wealth. Curious, the elder skillfully tried to penetrate the mystery. His younger brother, honest and frank, did not hesitate to tell him the story of the giant raven that took him to look for gold.
The elder couple proposed an exchange of their fortune for only the hut and the star fruit tree. The younger agreed. One day, the raven came back to eat the star fruits and gave the same recommendation: a three-foot bag to go looking for gold. The elder greedy and curious, brought with him two big six-foot bags and when on the spot, filled them with gold. On the way back, burdened by the overweight of of the two bags, the raven who could not hold any longer, swayed and sent the elder to the sea where he drowned.
The elder was the object of much despise when people knew about his greed and stinginess. God always helps good people and always punishes naughty people
The Story of Luu Binh and Duong Le
Long ago there were two very close friends. One named Luu-Binh, came from a wealthy family; the other, named Duong-Le, came from a pool family.
Knowing that Duong-Le did not have enough money to study, Luu-Binh kindly invited him to come and live with him to help him. Conscious of his poverty, Duong-Le was hard working and industrious while Luu-Binh, satisfied with his wealth, was wasteful and lazy. As expected, when the final examination arrived Luu-Binh failed while Duong-Le succeeded. He then became a high-ranking official and lived comfortably in a big house in the capital.
Luu-Binh went on with his idle, wasteful and extravagant way of life. Soon he had squandered all his fortune and was still not graduated. Reduced to bare poverty, Luu-Binh then remembered his old friend, now a high ranking official. So he made the trip to the capital and called at Duong-Le's to ask for help. Duong-Le pretended to be cold and indifferent because he knew his friend too well. If he helped him at once he would be always lazy.
"You're not my friend. All my friends are rich and important people not poor and ignorant like you." he shouted at Luu-Binh contemptuously. He then called: "Guards! See the man out. Give him some leftover rice and salt!"
Ashamed and disappointed to see that his friend was not too proud to remember their lifelong friendship, Luu-Binh sadly returned to his village, determined to study hard so that he would one day erase this shame.
In the meantime Duong-Le told his beautiful third wife, Chau-Long to dress as a girl selling silk, to go to Luu-Binh`s village, get acquainted with Luu-Binh and then propose to stay with him. She would be selling silk and supporting him while he was studying. She also promised that they would become husband and wife once he successfully completed his studies. Encouraged by that promise, Luu-Binh studied hard day and night. It was not long before the examination came again and Luu-Binh passed it. As soon as he heard the result he hurried home to share the good news with Chau-Long only to find that she had disappeared. Later on, Luu-Binh, too, was invited to serve as a high ranking official. But he did not forget the shame Duong-Le had caused him in the past. So he went to Duong-Le's to seek revenge. Duong-Le treated him completely differently when he arrived. This time he greeted him with open arms. He did not mind his friend's harsh words. Patiently waiting for his friend to calm down, Duong-Le then called his wife Chau-Long out to introduce her to his friend. Only then did Luu-Binh realize that Duong-Le, a true friend, had really helped him complete his studies. Both friends ran to each other and hugged each other tightly
The Story of Truong's Wife
The temple to Truong's wife is located on the side of the Hoang river, village of Vu dien, district Ly Nhan, province of Ha Nam. Here is her story.
She married a man of the Truong family. After a half a year, he was conscripted to go and fight a distant war. When he left, she was pregnant. She gave birth to boy, which she name Dan. During her husband absence, as she sat with her child, she would point to her shadow and would tell him that that was his father. After three years, her husband was released from service and came home. The boy by then could talk. When he called him, he replied:
You are also my dad? How can you talk now? My dad used to be silent. He came at night. He would sit when mom sat. He would move when mom moved.
The husband was struck by what his son has revealed to him. He became suspicious, then questioned his wife and did not believe when she denied having been with another man. He gave her such a hard time that in despair she jumped in the Hoang river to kill herself to prove her faithfulness.
Then one night, as he sat with his child, he pointed to the shadow of his father on the wall and said:
My dad has come back, see!
It finally struck the husband that his wife has used her shadow to provide the boy with as a surrogate father. As he came to recognize the injustice he did onto his wife, he built a altar on the river edge so that he can make offering to help free her soul. The people of the village subsequently built a temple in her honor. King Le Thanh Ton (1442 - 1497) on a tour of this province passed the temple and this inspired the following poem about her temple:
This column of incense smoke by the whirlpool
Is this the temple of the wife of Truong.
When the oil lamp is out, do not listen to the child,
Why the river to bring her misfortune.
Witnesses of her faithfulness are the sun and the moon
Why is it necessary to have an altar to redress the injustice
Passing by we learn the ins and outs of this story
Truong you have been too harsh!
King Le Thanh Ton reigned from 1460 to 1497. He was one of the enlightened King of the Early Le dynasty. He made political reforms and also was a patron of the arts. He founded the 'Tao dan nhi thap bat tu', the 28-star literary society, and was their leader
The Golden Ax
There was once a very poor man who lived near the forest. He was able to earn enough for a bare existence by cutting firewood, which his wife would barter for rice in the market place.
One day, when this man was cutting wood at the river's edge, the ax slipped from his hands and fell into the water. Although the woodcutter searched for it everywhere, it was not to be found. Discouraged, he sat down on the bank, lowered his head sadly, and wondered how he would be able to earn a living in the future. When the man raised his eyes again, he saw a little old man standing in front of him. The newcomer asked the woodcutter the reason for his unhappiness. The latter described what had happened and added that the lost ax had been his most valuable possession. Only with it would he be able to earn his daily rice.
"I am the dragon of this river," said the old man sympathetically, "and I am going to help you. If you will wait here for a minute, I will recover your ax for you."
With these words the old man plunged into the water. A few moments later, he reappeared, holding a golden ax in his hand.
"Is this your ax?" he asked.
"No," replied the woodcutter, "that is not mine. My ax was made of iron and had a wooden handle."
The river-dragon plunged into the water again and then emerged holding aloft a silver ax.
"Is this ax yours?" he asked.
Again the honest woodcutter replied in the negative.
The dragon then submerged for a third time. When he reappeared, he was holding a very ordinary iron ax in his hand.
"Is this your ax?" he asked the woodcutter.
"Yes," came the reply, "that is mine, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your assistance."
"You are an honest man," said the river-dragon then. "For that reason, in addition to this iron ax, I am going to give you one of silver and one of gold as well."
It was difficult for the simple woodcutter to find words with which to thank his benefactor. He picked up the three axes and returned to his cottage.
The evidence of all this new wealth soon aroused the speculation of the woodcutter's neighbors. With the exception of one man, however, they all wished him well.
This man was full of envy and was greatly desirous of obtaining for himself a golden or silver ax. From the woodcutter he obtained an exact description of the place on the river bank where the miraculous event had taken place. The greedy man then found an old, rusty ax and went there with it. He threw the iron ax into the water and pretended to be greatly troubled because of its loss.
The little old man appeared before the man and asked the cause of his trouble. Falsely the man described his loss and begged for the old man's assistance.
"You shall receive justice," was the reply. Thereupon, the old man plunged into the river and reappeared with a golden ax in his hand.
Before the dragon even had time to ask the question, the man shouted, "That's my ax. Give it to me at once."
"You are lying," replied the dragon angrily. Raising the ax high in the air, he struck the liar a blow on the neck, killing him instantly.
Since that time, no one has ever tried to obtain a golden ax or even a silver one from the river-dragon's hoard.
Note. This story is probably of Buddhist inspiration but Confucianists would also approve of its moral: Greed is indicted and punished; honesty is rewarded. It also illustrates Vietnamese belief in the supernatural river-dragon, a generally beneficent creature, who is said to inhabit the depths of every stream and to be able to assume human shape at will
Sue God For Rain
Once upon a time, there was no rain for long, long time. The ground cracked all over, all plants withered, animals had to suffer from thirsty.
There was so great a toad that he tried to find way to the heaven to let God know what life on the earth stood. He departed his trip and on the way to the heaven he was supported and followed by a crab, a bee, a fox, a bear and a tiger.
At last they all were at the place they wanted to come. The toad saw a drum at the heaven's gate so he asked the crab to hide himself in the jar of water then told the bee to take shelter behind the door. After all he suggested the rest to wait outside and came back when needed. Then the great toad marched forward and took the drumstick and beat the drum far-resoundingly. Thunder genie was asked to come out to see what happened. He immediately turned back and said that there was no one but a little toad himself beating the drum. The news was annoying God so he asked a cock to peck the obstinate toad. However, this cock was unlucky one, he was killed by the fox after he fulfilled the duty. Suddenly a dog appeared and tried to attack the fox but it was the right time for our bear showed his power. The poor dog was hurled down right away and died an instant death.
The failure was instantly broken to God. He was extremely angry and sent Thunder genie out to punish troublemakers at gate. The genie violently came out with his thunder maker, unfortunately he was attacked by the bee as premonition. The genie was so frighten that he had to jump into the jar of water and immediately jumped out because it was impossible for him to continue suffering pain from the crab's sharp pincers. At last the tiger showed himself so bravely that made the violent genie stood as a stone status.
God was in an awkward situation so he had to invite the great toad and all of his friends into the court. The toad after that told God that there was no rain in the earth for four years. Everything had faced death. If things went on like that, there would be nothing survive.
God was very much afraid of the earth's rebel so he immediately made rain and carefully told the toad just to grind his teeth if the earth needed water. From that day on it may rain if toad grinds his teeth so there is a Vietnamese saying:
"Toad is god's uncle
Beat him, god beats back".
The Price of Love
Once upon a time, there was a young Thai couple who had yet to have a child. Like anyone else in their hamlet, they worked hard to make ends meet. The wife became more and more beautiful soon after the marriage and so her husband loved her more and more as each day passed.
One day, he had to go on a long trip for about 10 days to perform viec muong, community work in the Thai-populated region.
A merchant with a flock of horses happened upon the hamlet and, of course, the young wife’s beauty did not go unnoticed.
“Hey, sweet girl! Where could a poor merchant rest his head for the night?” he said with a gentle smile.
“Girl?” said the young wife, a touch irritated. “Can’t you see my tang cau?” (A hair bun that signifies a Thai woman is married.)
“Perhaps you have just married and have yet to have a child, so you still look like a girl,” he said with a cocky smile. “Please, all I need is a place to sleep.”
“If you do not make light of my small house, you can stay.”
So the man came in and as usual when he did business, he presented a pack of tobacco for her husband, sweets for any children and boxes of thread. Then he pulled out some glittering silver coins and instructed her to buy a large chicken for his dinner.
That night, she asked a neighbour’s kid to sleep with her to thwart any advances the man might attempt. But the merchant was in no rush.
“I’ll just stay another night,” he said to himself as he fell asleep.
The next morning when he woke up, he saw the beautiful woman returning from a bath in the stream, shouldering a water tube made of bamboo and with the water still glistening on her shoulders the merchant only became more besotted by her beauty.
“My horses and I are still tired. I want to stay another night,” he said while handing over a luxurious piece of cloth. “Your complexion is white and soft. This cloth suits you well.”
“But I do not deserve it.”
“No. It doesn’t cost that much, nor do I ask you for money.”
Then as she had no jewellery, the merchant gave her a gemstone bracelet, two gold ear-rings and a silver hairpin, saying a beauty like hers should have all.
Although at first, the woman felt guilty accepting these lavish gifts, soon she was overwhelmed. She thought, “why shouldn’t I have jewellery and dresses?” It was only down to poor luck that she married such a poor husband. And so it was that the merchant came to get pretty cosy around the house.
Of course, when the husband returned he was so angry he took out a dagger, thinking he would kill the two of them, right there and then. But he could not bring himself to harm a hair on his wife’s beautiful head. Instead, he brought the case to the local court.
“We were living in happiness until this man came and wooed her with his fancy gifts. I can prove that she is my wife,” he told the judge.
“I don’t know who this poor guy is,” said the merchant. “But he suddenly came and said my wife was his. If he is so poor, how can he buy her these precious items she wears so well?”
“Hang on, there’s an easy solution to this,” barked the judge looking at the woman. “Which of them is your husband?”
But she could not answer. In fact, she burst out crying. The judge asked her again and again but he received no answer.
“You’re all wasting my time so you all should be punished,” roared the judge, who told his officials to bring in a big drum. “Now first, the poor man and the woman carry this drum together over the five hills yonder.”
So the real husband and his wife carried the drum away. On the way the man thought of the many sweet memories they shared but his wife kept silent and after one morning’s walking they carried the drum over the five hills and back.
“Now the rich guy and the woman do the same” said the judge.
So the merchant and the woman carried the drum away. On the way the merchant urged her to leave the poor husband and promised more precious beautiful gifts.
“Your assets have torn my family apart. You want to marry me but if I become your wife, you will treat me like a servant only,” she barked.
When they returned back to the court, the judge ordered the drum to be opened and a small man who’d heard all emerged. He said the poor man was the real husband.
The judge confiscated the merchant’s assets, had him beaten one hundred times by a wooden stick and chased him out of town.
As for the couple, well, it’s hard to know what ever became of them, and perhaps it’s better not to ask
The Story of Tam and Cam
Long, long ago there was a man who lost his wife and lived with his little girl named Tam. Then he married again a wicked woman.
The little girl found this out on the first day after the wedding. There was a big banquet in the house, but Tam was shut up in a room all by herself instead of being allowed to welcome the guests and attend the feast.
Moreover, she had to go to bed without any supper.
Things grew worse when a new baby girl was born in the house. The step-mother adored Cam--for Cam was the name of the baby girl--and she told her husband so many lies about poor Tam that he would not have anything more to do with the latter.
"Go and stay away in the kitchen and take care of yourself, you naughty child," said the wicked woman to Tam.
And she gave the little girl a dirty wretched place in the kitchen, and it was there that Tam was to live and work. At night, she was given a torn mat and a ragged sheet as bed and coverlet. She had to rub the floors, cut the wood, feed the animals, do all the cooking, the washing up and many other things. Her poor little soft hands had large blisters, but she bore the pain without complaint. Her step-mother also sent her to deep forests to gather wood with the secret hope that the wild beasts might carry her off. She asked Tam to draw water from dangerously deep wells so that she might get drowned one day. The poor little Tam worked and worked all day till her skin became swarthy and her hair entangled. But Sometimes she went to the well to draw water, looked at herself in it, and was frightened to realize how dark and ugly she was. She then got some water in the hollow of her hand, washed her face and combed her long smooth hair with her fingers, and the soft white skin appeared again, and she looked very pretty indeed.
When the step-mother realized how pretty Tam could look, she hated her more than ever, and wished to do her more harm. One day, she asked Tam and her own daughter Cam to go fishing in the village pond.
"Try to get as many as you can," she said. "If you come back with only a few of them, you will get flogged and will be sent to bed without supper." Tam knew that these words were meant for her because the step-mother would never beat Cam, who was the apple of her eyes, while she always flogged Tam as hard as she could.
Tam tried to fish hard and by the end of the day, got a basket full of fish. In the meantime, Cam spent her time rolling herself in the tender grass, basking in the warm sunshine, picking up wild flowers, dancing and singing.
The sun set before Cam had even started her fishing. She looked at her empty basket and had a bright idea. "Sister, sister," she said to Tam, "your hair is full of mud. Why don't you step into the fresh water and get a good wash to get rid of it? Otherwise mother is going to scold you."
Tam listened to the advice, and had a good wash. But, in the meantime, Cam poured her sister's fish into her own basket and went home as quickly as she could. When Tam realized that her fish were stolen away, her heart sank and she began to cry bitterly. Certainly, her step-mother would punish her severely tonight!
Suddenly, a fresh and balmy wind blew, the sky looked purer and the clouds whiter and in front of her stood the smiling blue-robed Goddess of Mercy, carrying a lovely green willow branch with her. "What is the matter, dear child?" asked the Goddess in a sweet voice.
Tam gave her an account of her misfortune and added: "Most Noble Lady, what am I to do tonight when I go home? I am frightened to death, for my step-mother will not believe me, and will flog me very, very hard."
The Goddess of Mercy consoled her. "Your misfortune will be over soon. Have confidence in me and cheer up. Now, look at your basket to see whether there is anything left there."
Tam looked and saw a lovely small fish with red fins and golden eyes, and uttered a little cry of surprise. The Goddess told her to take the fish home, put it in the well at the back of the house, and feed it three times a day with what she could save from her own food.
Tam thanked the Goddess most gratefully and did exactly as she was told. Whenever she went to the well, the fish would appear on the surface to greet her. But should anyone else come, the fish would never show itself. Tam's strange behavior was noticed by her step-mother who spied on her, and went to the well to look for the fish which hid itself in the deep water. She decided to ask Tam to go to a far away spring to fetch some water, and taking advantage of the absence, she put on the latter's ragged clothes, went to call the fish, killed it and cooked it.
When Tam came back, she went to the well, called and called, but there was no fish to be seen except the surface of the water stained with blood. She leaned her head against the well and wept in the most miserable way. The Goddess of Mercy appeared again, with a face as sweet as a loving mother, and comforted her: "Do not cry, my child. Your step-mother has killed the fish, but you must try to find its bones and bury them in the ground under your mat. Whatever you may wish to possess, pray to them, and your wish will be granted."
Tam followed the advice and looked for the fish bones everywhere but could find none. "Cluck! cluck!" said a hen, "Give me some paddy and I will show you the bones.
Tam gave her a handful of paddy and the hen said, "Cluck! cluck! Follow me and I will take you to the place." When they came to the poultry yard, the hen scratched a heap of young leaves, uncovered the fish bones which Tam gladly gathered and buried accordingly. It was not long before she got gold and jewelry and dresses of such wonderful materials that they would have rejoiced the heart of any young girl.
When the Autumn Festival came, Tam was told to stay home and sort out the two big baskets of black and green beans that her wicked step-mother had mixed up.
"Try to get the work done," she was told, "before you can go to attend the Festival." Then the step-mother and Cam put on their most beautiful dresses and went out by themselves.
After they had gone a long way Tam lifted her tearful face and prayed: "O, benevolent Goddess of Mercy, please help me." At once, the soft-eyed Goddess appeared and with her magic green willow branch, turned little flies into sparrows which sorted the beans out for the young girl. In a short time, the work was done. Tam dried up her tears, arrayed herself in a glittering blue and silver dress. She now looked as beautiful as a princess, and went to the Festival.
Cam was very surprised to see her, and whispered to her mother: "Is that rich lady not strangely like my sister Tam?" When Tam realized that her step-mother and Cam were staring curiously at her, she ran away, but in such a hurry that she dropped one of her fine slippers which the soldiers picked up and took to the King.
The King examined it carefully and declared he had never seen such a work of art before. He made the ladies of the palace try it on, but the slipper was too small even for those who had the smallest feet. Then he ordered all the noblewomen of the kingdom to try it, but the slipper would fit none of them. In the end, word was sent that the woman who could wear the slipper would become Queen, that is, the King's First Wife.
Finally, Tam had a try and the slipper fitted her perfectly. She then wore both slippers, and appeared in her glittering blue and silver dress, looking extremely beautiful. She was then taken to Court with a big escort, became Queen and had an unbelievably brilliant and happy life. The step-mother and Cam could not bear to see her happy and would have killed her most willingly, but they were too afraid of the King to do so.
One day, at her father's anniversary, Tam went home to celebrate it with her family. At the time, it was the custom that, however great and important one might be, one was always expected by one's parents to behave exactly like a young and obedient child. The cunning step-mother had this in her mind and asked Tam to climb an areca tree to get some nuts for the guests. As Tam was now Queen, she could of course refuse, but she was a very pious and dutiful daughter, and was only glad to help. But while she was up on the tree, she felt that it was swaying to and fro in the strangest and most alarming manner.
"What are you doing?" She asked her step-mother.
"I am only trying to scare away the ants which might bite you, my dear child," was the reply. But in fact, the wicked step-mother was holding a sickle and cutting the tree which fell down in a crash, killing the poor Queen at once.
"Now we are rid of her," said the woman with a hateful and ugly laugh, "and she will never come back again. We shall report to the King that she has died in an accident and my beloved daughter Cam will become Queen in her stead!"
Things happened exactly the way she had planned, and Cam became now the King's first wife. But Tam's pure and innocent soul could not find any rest. It was turned into the shape of a nightingale which dwelt in the King's garden and sang sweet and melodious songs.
One day, one of the maids-of-honor in the Palace exposed the dragon-embroidered gown of the King to the sun, and the nightingale sang in her own gentle way: "0, sweet maid-of-honor, be careful with my Imperial Husband's gown and do not tear it by putting it on a thorny hedge." She then sang on so sadly that tears came into the King's eyes. The nightingale sang more sweetly still and moved the hearts of all who heard her.
At last, the King said: "Most delightful nightingale, if you were the soul of my beloved Queen, be pleased to settle in my wide sleeves."
Then the gentle bird went straight into the King's sleeves and rubbed her smooth head against the King's hand. The bird was now put in a golden cage near the King's bedroom. The King was so fond of her that he would stay all day long near the cage, listening to her melancholy and beautiful songs. As she sang her melodies to him, his eyes became wet with tears, and she sang more charmingly than ever.
Cam became jealous of the bird, and sought her mother's advice about it. One day, while the King was holding a council with his ministers, Cam killed the nightingale, cooked it and threw the feathers in the Imperial Garden.
"What is the meaning of this?" said the King when he came back to the Palace and saw the empty cage. There was great confusion and everybody looked for the nightingale but could not find it.
"Perhaps she was bored and has flown away to the woods," said Cam.
The King was very sad but there was nothing he could do about it, and resigned himself to his fate. But once more, Tam's restless soul was transformed into big, magnificent tree, which only bore a single fruit, but what a fruit! It was round, big and golden and had a very sweet smell.
An old woman passing by the tree and seeing the beautiful fruit, said: "Golden fruit, golden fruit, drop into the bag of this old woman. This one will keep you and enjoy your smell, but will never eat you." The fruit at once dropped into the old woman's bag. She brought it home, put it on the table to enjoy its sweet-scented smell. But the next day, to her great surprise, she found her house clean and tidy, and a delicious hot meal waiting for her when she came back from her errands as though some magic hand had done all this during her absence.
She then pretended to go out the following morning, but stealthily came back, hid herself behind the door and observed the house. She beheld a fair and slender lady coming out of the golden fruit and starting to tidy the house. She rushed in, tore the fruit peel up so that the fair lady could no longer hide herself in it. The young lady could not help but stay there and consider the old woman her own mother.
One day the King went on a hunting party and lost his way. The evening drew on, the clouds gathered and it was pitch dark when he saw the old woman's house and went in it for shelter. According to custom, the latter offered him some tea and betel. The King examined the delicate way the betel was prepared and asked: "Who is the person who made this betel, which looks exactly like the one prepared by my late beloved Queen?"
The old woman said in a trembling voice: "Son of Heaven, it is only my unworthy daughter."
The King then ordered the daughter to be brought to him and when she came and bowed to him, he realized, like in a dream, that it was Tam, his deeply regretted Queen Both of them wept after such a separation and so much unhappiness. The Queen was then taken back to the Imperial City, where she took her former rank, while Cam was completely neglected by the King.
Cam then thought: "If I were as beautiful as my sister, I would win the King's heart."
She asked the Queen: "Dearest Sister, how could I become as white as you?"
"It is very easy," answered the Queen. "You have only to jump into a big basin of boiling water to get beautifully white." Cam believed her and did as suggested. Naturally she died without being able to utter a word! When the step-mother heard about this she wept until she became blind. Soon, she died of a broken heart. The Queen survived both of them, and lived happily ever after, for she certainly deserved it
The Saint Giong
It was said that, under 6th King Hung dynasty, there was an old couple in Giong village. They were kind and worked very hard but having a child was still their wish. Once day the wife came to the field and happened to see a large footprint, she then tried
Accidentally she was pregnant and born a son twelve months later. The old couple was very happy but the baby himself could not smile or speak. He just lied wherever he was placed even though he was three years old.
The country at that time was under the danger of being occupied by invader from the North. The invader was so strong that the king had to ask envoys to search for those who could fight against the enemy. When hearing the envoy's voice, the child began asking his mother to call the envoy. The man came in and was surprise to hear that the child wanted to have a horse, an amour and a rod all made from iron to fight for the country's peace. Immediately he returned to the court and reported what had happened to the king and then all the requirements of the child in Giong Village were fulfiled through days and nights as the king's order.
It was more surprising that from the day the child met the envoy, he grew rapidly. The old couple did not have enough food and clothe for their son. However, all the villagers were always available to help them for no one of them wanted to live under the enemy's rule.
The invader was about to reach to the root of Trau mountain, all and sundry panicked. But at that time the envoy came with iron horse, amour and also rod. The child stretch his shoulders, rose himself and turned to a valiant man more than a truong high. The valiant man stately stepped to the horse and flapped it so that it was neighing loudly.
He then worn amour, took the rod and jumped on the horse's back. The horse began erupting fire and was push to Trau mountain to wait in front of the enemy.
There was drastic and keen fight between the powerful, dense enemy and the valiant man himself. The man on the iron horse fought so bravely that the enemy died like flies. Suddenly the ironed rod was broken but he continued struggling by rooting up all the bamboo groves and used it as his former weapon. The invader's willing was absolutely broken. They all shattered and trampled on others to run away. The man ran after them to Soc Son mountain. At last he reached the top of the mountain then put off his amour and finally flew into the heaven together with the horse.
To show the deep gratitude to the valiant man the king conferred a title Phu Dong Thien Vuong on him and set up a temple for memory.
It was said that fire erupted from the horse had made bamboo in Gia Binh province become shiny yellow called Tre Dang Nga and burnt a village on the way it came to the battle so the village was named Chay Village
The Origin of Tao Quan
There is a popular belief in Viet Nam that Tao Quan, the Three Kitchen Gods, are present in the kitchen of every home.
These gods observe everything that takes place there. At the end of the lunar year, on the twenty-third day of the twelfth month, they depart to make their report to Ngoc Hoang, the Jade Emperor, supreme divinity of the Taoist Heaven. On that day, Tao Quan are offered the best of food and spices and are presented with gifts of money and clothing.
The idea of a threesome is unique to this story. More often the kitchen god or genie is described as a single person and may be called Ong Tao, Ong Lo or Ong Vua Bep.
Long, long ago, when Earth and Sky met in the Valley of Whispers, in the dense, green forest there lived a woodcutter and his wife. They were very poor and oftentimes the man was unable to earn enough to buy their food. Frustration and worry drove him to drink, and he would come staggering home at night in a vile mood. Since there was only his wife to listen to him in their ramshackle cottage, he poured out all manner of abuse on the poor woman. Because she was his wife, she had to accept it. Sometimes he would try to appease his rage by smashing the furniture; but when he took to beating her she could endure it no longer. One night, she fled the cottage and was never seen there again.
For days and weeks, the woman wandered in the forest. She was hungry and her feet were torn and bleeding. Finally, she came to a hunter's cabin. The owner was an honest man, who gave her food and permitted her to rest in his home. She kept house for him then, and after some time they were married. They lived together in great happiness, and it seemed that the woman had forgotten the terrors of her previous marriage.
One day, when Tet (Vietnamese New Year) was approaching and the hunter was out in the forest looking for game, a beggar knocked at the door of the cottage and asked for alms. He was clad in rags and his hair was matted and unkempt. The compassionate woman prepared a meal for the man; while he was eating, she suddenly recognized him as her former husband.
The beggar was still eating when the woman heard the steps of her returning husband. In her mind's eyes, she saw rapid end of her newfound happiness and became panic-stricken. Quickly she hid the beggar under a haycock .
The hunter had been very successful that day and was returning home with some excellent game. As soon as he entered the cottage, he prepared to roast it in the haycock quite unaware of the beggar's presence there.
When the beggar found himself ablaze, his first impulse was to cry out; then, fearing that the hunter might kill the woman on discovering him there, he remained silent.
As tongues of flame consumed the haycock, the poor woman was torn with grief. She realized of course that her former husband was meeting death for her sake and that she did not want. Hesitating for no longer than a moment, she threw herself into the fire in order to die with him.
The hunter cried out in dismay when he saw what his wife had done. He tried to pull her back but was unable to do so. Thinking that some act of his had driven her to such desperation, he too jumped into fire, preferring to die with her rather than to continue to live without her.
When the people learned of this touching story, they bowed their heads out of respect for the noble motives that had brought on the deaths of the woman and the two men. They were later acclaimed as Tao Quan, the Three Kitchen Gods
How the Odd Couple Came to Love Each Other
Once upon a time, at a small village in today’s Bac Ninh province, there was a beautiful and diligent girl born from a poor family. No matter how hard her parents worked, they could not get out of debt. The beleaguered parents had no choice but to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to a landlord’s son so as to clear their debts.
After the marriage the couple moved into a separate home and after a few years a small child was born. But every chore in the house was left for the wife as the husband was a good for nothing dolt of a man.
One day, when the child fell ill and the wife had to stay at home to take care of him, she told her husband to sell their dog at the market. Of course, the man was very reluctant as such responsibility was overwhelming for him. So, the wife repeated the instructions very clearly several times over: “Sell it at once, if someone offers eight dong or four dong now with four dong owed. If not, bring the dog home.”
At the market, the gormless husband met an old man and told him the deal for the dog. The old man thought it was sound offer and decided to pay him four dong but when he paid up left the husband with a riddle: “In three days, come to my house and I will pay you the rest. My house is situated at the north of this market. It is where there is water without fish and fish without water.”
The husband returned home mumbling the old man’s words to tell his wife.
Three days later, the child was still sick. The wife explained to her husband how to get the rest of their money: “Go north on the main road. If you see a watch-post (to monitor river flooding) with a fish-shaped bamboo bell at the head of the village, the man’s house must be there.”
Following the instructions, the husband found the old man, who pleasantly surprised the man had found him, invited his guest inside for a meal and poured him some rice wine. The husband explained that his wife had sent him and the old man immediately paid the debt. Then he gave the husband a gift to give to his wife.
Back at his house, the wife was very glad to receive both the money and was also intrigued by the gift. Inside the parcel she found a handful of delicious rice and some rotten egg-plant. It was a sign from the old man thought that her marriage had been a foolish one.
So that very night she carried her child away but reaching the river she could not cross as there was no ferry boat. She saw an old man wading in the mud on the river bank.
“What are you looking for?” she asked.
“I am busy finding a needle,” the man answered.
“Why do you waste so much time trying to find a needle?”
“When my wife passed away, she left this needle to me and told me not to lose it. It is small, yet priceless to me. She and I had shared both life and death together, so we will keep loyalty to the end of time.”
On hearing that the wife suddenly returned home and from that day on she tried to help her husband focus on his household duties and be more responsible. And so through good times and bad they remained together
Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh
Vietnamese myths do not just recount what may be called the universal condition. They also have myths to explain their own situation in a tropical and monsoon land, and one such myth is the story of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh.
Son Tinh was the spirit of the Mountain and Thuy Tinh the spirit of the Waters. The king, Hunh Vuong VI, had an extremely beautiful daughter, and he did not wish her to marry just any prince. He consulted with his court and hit upon the idea of sending out a proclamation far and wide to the effect that he was seeking a suitable party for his daughter. Princes came from far and wide but none was considered to be a good match for the king's beloved daughter. Finally, one day there came at the same time two very handsome young noblemen asking for the princess' hand. Upon inquiry and examination, they turned out both to be equally distinguished, talented, and powerful. The king was in a quandary as to how to choose. Finally, he decided to send them both away, saying that whoever turned up the next day first with the proper wedding gifts would be given the princess in marriage.
He was, therefore, given the hand of the princess. Barely had the proceedings been completed when Thuy Tinh, the Water spirit, turned up with his gifts.
Being of a fiery disposition, Thuy Tinh could not accept his defeat. He sought to challenge Son Tinh to a contest to see who was the stronger and therefore more deserving of the princess. But Son Tinh simply ignored him, strong in his conviction that right was on his side. Furious, Thuy Tinh called on the waters of the rivers and brooks to overflow their banks and flood the land, In no time the whole land became a storm and raging sea that rose day by day and hour by hour, ruining all the crops and ravaging the land.
But Son Tinh was imperturbable in his palace in the mountains; all he needed to do was to get his mountains to rise a little bit higher when the waters threatened to flood them. After several days and weeks of trying to overcome his rival by raising the waters, Thuy Tinh finally had to concede defeat and order the waters to withdraw. This happened at the end of the monsoon but Thuy Tinh was never fully reconciled to the loss of the beautiful princess. Every year he tries to reenact the battle and that was how monsoons came to Vietnam