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Vietnamese mythology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vietnamese mythology[1][2][3] (Vietnamese: Thần thoại Việt Nam) comprises national myths of the Vietnamese people together with popular aspects of folk religion in Vietnam.

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Creation myths

Although the supposed "mythology" of the ethnically Vietnamese people (the Kinh) is not widely known or well documented, the story of Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ has been cited as a creation myth. The story details how two progenitors, the man known as the "Dragon Lord of Lạc" and the woman known as the "Lady of Âu", gave birth to a hundred eggs, fifty of which hatched, settled on land and eventually became the Vietnamese people. However, the story, dubbed Con rồng cháu tiên ("Descendants of the Dragon and the Fairy"), is labeled as a truyền thuyết ("legend"), a "type of folkloric tale about historical characters and events, usually embellished with fantastical elements,"[4] and is more akin to other legends (such as the story of Lê Lợi borrowing a sword from a magical turtle) than it is to other cultures' mythologies. The Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư proposed more details on the origins of the two progenitors in Chinese mythology, for example on how Lạc Long Quân was the son of Kinh Dương Vương, who was in turn descended from the Yan Emperor and Shennong. Additionally, Ngô Sĩ Liên, the author of the text, cited elements of Chinese mythology (although the details weren't told as if they were mythological fiction, but as fact about events that had actually happened), on Pangu, Shennong and their descendants leading to Kinh Dương Vương, Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ, and even commented on the potential familial bond between this couple (Lạc's father Kinh Dương Vương and Âu's grandfather Đế Nghi were brothers, both of Shennong descent).

Another account that is less well documented is about a primordial god known as thần trụ trời ("heaven-pillar god"). This god, supposedly, built a stone pillar to separate heaven and earth from a chaotic mess where neither the world or humanity had existed, and once he was finished, he destroyed the pillar, which resulted in the creation of landforms such as mountains and islands. This god later may have been conflated with some generic heavenly deity (ông trời, "lit. grandfather sky"), or the Chinese god Jade Emperor.

Popular heroes and gods

Figures in Vietnamese mythology include The Four Immortals: the giant boy Thánh Gióng, mountain god Tản Viên Sơn Thánh,[5] Chử Đồng Tử marsh boy, princess Liễu Hạnh. One of the Four Immortals also reemerges in the fighting between Sơn Tinh and Thủy Tinh "the god of the mountain and the god of the Water." Historical legend occurs in the story of the Thuận Thiên "Heaven's Will" magical sword of King Lê Lợi.

Folk mythology includes figures such as the mười hai bà mụ "Twelve Midwives", twelve fairies who teach one-month-old babies skills such as sucking and smiling.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Vietnamese mythology" in "The Oxford Companion to World Mythology" by David Leeming, p.394
  3. ^ Elisabeth Kemf, Vo Quy "Dance of a thousand Cranes" in "Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas: The Law of Mother Earth", ed. Elizabeth Kemf
  4. ^ Ngữ văn 6. 1. Nhà xuất bản Giáo dục Việt Nam. 2011. p. 7.
  5. ^ Olga Dror Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Liễu Hạnh in Vietnamese History 2007 Page 162 "Tản Viên, a prominent mountain spirit in Vietnamese mythology, is portrayed in some stories as having helped an ancient king deal with a conqueror from Thu ̇c (modern Sichuan). In the third couplet, the reference to Chử Đồng Tử is ."
  6. ^ Iain Stewart Vietnam Lonely Planet 2012 "Behind the altar on the right are three fairies and smaller figures representing the 12 ba mu (midwives), each of whom teaches newborns a different skill necessary for the first year of life: smiling, sucking and so forth. Childless couples often ..."
  7. ^ Helle Rydstrøm Embodying Morality: Growing Up in Rural Northern Vietnam Page 185 - 2003 "When a child in Thinh Tri is one month old, a special ritual is performed for what is called the "Twelve Midwives" (Muoi Hai Ba Mu). Each of the Twelve Midwives is said to represent a prosperous trait that one would wish for the newborn baby ..."

This page was last edited on 6 September 2021, at 13:27
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