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Maurice Durand

La dynastie des L antrieurs d'aprs le Vit in u linh tp


In: Bulletin de l'Ecole franaise d'Extrme-Orient. Tome 44 N2, 1951. pp. 437-452.

Citer ce document / Cite this document :


Durand Maurice. La dynastie des L antrieurs d'aprs le Vit in u linh tp. In: Bulletin de l'Ecole franaise d'Extrme-Orient.
Tome 44 N2, 1951. pp. 437-452.
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/befeo_0336-1519_1951_num_44_2_5179

LA

DYNASTIE

D'APRS

LE

DES

VIT

LY

ANTRIEURS

BIEN

UNH

TAP

par
Maurice DURAND

ms.LeA.troisime
7 ^ E.F.E.O.,
et le quatrime
f 3 b et atextes
et b, exposent
du Vi$t ladi$n
vie de deux
link hros
tp .historico-lgenfa} $^
daires du Vit-Nam : Trieu Vit-vuomg & L-Pht-T ^\%^. Ces
deux personnages appartiennent la priode que les histoires officielles du Vit-Nam
placent sous l'gide de la dynastie des L antrieurs (5 602 ap. J.-C). En
Chine, pendant ce temps, rgnrent successivement comme dynastie principale : les
Nan Leang j , les Tch'en , et les Souei .
Le ms. A. 7 rdige en deux textes spars une histoire que les autres
manuscrits du F. &. U. L. T. racontent en un seul texte, plus long. Il ne s'tend pas
sur les vnements qui amenrent la fondation de la dynastie des L Antrieurs par
Ly-Bn : ;\ Or le Bai Vi$t SK, les rdactions antrieures et postrieures des
Annales vietnamiennes et les histoires non officielles font une place Ly Bon
dont l'action a prcd et permis les exploits de TrieuVit-VuongetdeLy Ph^t Tu.
En 54 1 ap. J.-C.(1), 7' anne Ta-t'ong ^ fpj des Leang, parat sur la scne de
l'histoire vietnamienne L Bon ou L Bi. Depuis la rpression de la rbellion des
surs Trung '$& par le gnral chinois Ma Yuan fa f (4- . J.-C), les
territoires au sud du Yue (Viet) taient retombs sous l'administration directe de la
Chine dont le contrle s'exerait jusqu'aux frontires du Lin yi g, dans le Centre
Vit-Nam actuel.
Durant cette priode un double courant se fait de la Chine vers le Kiao-tcheou
(Giao-chu). Courant culturel : la Chine, pays suzerain, exporte sa culture
et sa civilisation; les lites du Giao-chu formes la chinoise deviennent de plus
en plus nombreuses et le gouvernement chinois est oblig peu peu de leur ouvrir

(*> Je suis l'dition des annales imprime en 1800 sous le titre Bai Vit 5> K J i& l
! o se trouvent les considrations de L-vn-Hu'U ^ ^ fjc auteur du Bai Vit S> K
primitif (dbut du xiii* sicle), de Ng-S-Lin -^ ffc ||5 auteur du Bai VitS> K Ton Thu
A # (**79), e Ng-Thi-Si ^ fl# ft (1736-1780) et de Nguyn-Nghim,
(178-i775). J'indiquerai cette dition par l'abrviation K F.S.JL Mes renvois avec cette
abrviation concerneront le q. 5 du Ngoai In, Annales des L antrieurs. Les autres abrviations
utilises seront : B.V.S.K.T.T. : Bai Vif't Sto K Ton Thw; V.B.U.L.T. : Vign Bin link tp. Les
cotes des ouvrages sont celles de l'Ecole Franaise d'Extrme-Orient.
8.

438

MAURICE DURAND

l'accs aux fonctions administratives, soit de leur pays, soit de la Chine elle-mme W.
Courant humain : l'migration chinoise vers leurs colonies du Sud, constante depuis
la premire conqute chinoise (111 ap.J.-C), semble s'tre amplifie la suite des
troubles qui suivirent la chute des Han. De nombreux rfugis chinois s'installrent
au Giao-chu et y firent souche. Quelques gnrations s'attachaient leur patrie
d'adoption et devenaient gens du Giao-chu. Leurs intrts matriels et les unions
qu'ils contractaient dans le pays les dtachaient insensiblement de leur patrie.
Devant la politique chinoise ils finissaient par ragir comme de vritables
autochtones. Parfois les rvoltes contre les gouverneurs chinois trouvaient en la personne
de ces descendants de Chinois des chefs audacieux et obstins (*).
Ainsi Ly-Bn ou L-B tait descendant la septime gnration de Chinois
migrs en Giao-chu la suite des troubles de la fin des Han postrieurs. Il tait
originaire de la prfecture de Thai hinh ^ ^ W dans le Giao-chu. Ce Thai binh ne
correspond pas la province de mme nom dans le Nord-Viet-Nam actuel. Les
commentateurs vietnamiens le rattachent l'ancienne province de Phong, le Phongchu , qui, d'aprs eux, s'tendait sur la majeure partie de la province actuelle
de Scn-ty \\\ (*). lia famille de Ly-Bn avait probablement russi faire fortune
Thi-binh et de gnration en gnration son crdit s'y tait affermi. Cependant
Ly-Bn n'aurait pas t amen jouer le rle de chef de rvolte si les circonstances
ne s'y taient pas prtes. A l'influence de sa famille, Ly-Bn ajoutait des qualits
personnelles susceptibles de lui attirer la confiance des rvolts. Il tait
suffisamment cultiv pour avoir t haut fonctionnaire des Leang; suffisamment dou
de qualits guerrires pour que les Chinois lui aient confi la direction d'une
province frontire comme celle du Kieou-t (Cipu- u'c) fa {* M, l'ancien Kieou-tchen
(*) Les Vietnamiens font commencer les dbuts de l'accs des lites du Sud aux fonctions
publiques en Giao-chu et en Chine Ly-Tin 2pi j|, originaire du Kiao-tche (Giao-chi) -? jJt et
gouverneur de cette province sous l'empereur Ling-ti jg ^ (168-189 ap. J.-C.); cf. TrnTrong-Kim, Vit-Nam S> Lwqk, dit. 1920, p. 3a.
(*) Le plus bel exemple de cette assimilation des Chinois par les pays du Sud est Tchao T'o
(Triu D) P() Le B.V.S.K. dit g| -jfc ^ J^ : Originaire de Thi-binh de Long-humg. Certaines
traditions vietnamiennes rapportent erronment, mon avis, que Ly-Bn tait originaire de Longnu'ng du Thi-binh (cf. Nam Phmg, n i3 1, p. 48).
Ainsi le Cwomg Mue, Nguyn-Thuc-Khim dans Nam Phong, n 11, Hong-xun-Hn dans
son commentaire du Bai Nam Quc S> Din Ca dit par la maison Sng-Nhi en 199 H-ni.
Le Phong-chu . j\\ d'aprs le Dictionnaire gographique ^^^^^^
t fond en tant que circonscription administrative par les Leang ; les Souei en ont fait le Hu>ngchu JE * . Cependant les traditions vietnamiennes ont le souvenir d'un Phong-chu qui
existait ds les dbuts de leur histoire lgendaire. Les commentateurs du Cwomg Mue, 1, q. f. a r
expliquent que cette circonscription devait se trouver dans les limites approximatives du territoire
des prfectures actuelles de Vnh-tuwg -fc . et de Lm-thao jjtr de la province de So>nty. D'autres traditions le placent un peu plus au nord, dans la rgion de Vit-tri, Bach-hac.
(<) Cni-chn fut tabli par les Han comme commanderie ; on le localise dans le Thun-hoa,
Thanh-ho et Ngh-an actuels. Les Leang le changrent en Ai-chu ^ 'J>|j ; les Souei rtablirent
l'ancien nom de Cni-chn et les T'ang reprirent le nom de Ai-chu. Puis alternativement on employa
ces deux dsignations. Le nom ne figure plus dans l'organisation administrative actuelle. Sur le
Cm-dH; fa {*, cf. Aurousseau, La premire conqute des pays annamites, in BEFEO, tome XXIII,
p. 931, note 7, etRolfStein, -Yi, p. 35-36. 'est une commanderie cre par les Wou ^ (22a980 av. J.-C.); elle fut maintenue du m* au ti* sicle. Dans la tradition vietnamienne, si l'on
se reporte au tableau des quinze provinces du royaume de Vn-lang (., q. 1, f. 3r) le Cuni-chn
est indiqu comme la onzime province et le Cm-dn: la quatorzime. Le commentaire de la
gographie de Nguyln-Trai par Nguyn-thin-Tung donne Cuni-chn = Thanh-ho, mais ne parle pas du

LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE V1T BIEN LINH TAP

439

(Cu'u-chn) fa (1), face au Lm-2) dont les troupes essayaient continuellement


de pousser vers le Nord. En Chine, les Leang, suzerains du Giao-chu, taient plongs
dans les troubles intrieurs et les difficults extrieures. Les gouverneurs chinois
des provinces loignes devaient principalement compter sur leurs propres forces
et, l'occasion, sur l'aide des gouverneurs chinois voisins. Le gouvernement
imprial ne prenait des mesures importantes qu'aprs l'chec de ses reprsentants locaux.
Avant sa rvolte Ly-Bn semble avoir sjourn dans la Chine des Leang o il
occupait une charge publique. Mais ses fonctions lui dplurent pour des raisons
que l'histoire officielle et la tradition ne rapportent pas avec prcision (3). Il quitta
sa charge et revint Thi-binh. Avait-il le dsir de fuir un pays troubl? Avait-il
t maltrait ou avait-il subi quelque vexation? L'histoire vietnamienne cache-t-elle
peut-tre une disgrce de Ly-Bn, puisque, aprs son retour de Chine et la veille
de sa rvolte, il se trouvait commandant des troupes de Ciru-d>c qui deviendront le
noyau de l'arme des rvolts W.
Le gouverneur du Giao-chu en 54 1 tait Siao Tseu (TiuTu) qui s'tait
alin les curs par ses vexations et ses actes de violence. Comme les surs Trwng
contre le gouverneur Sou Ting (T EHnh) ^ , Ly-Bn rassembla contre Siao
Tseu une grande partie des chefs locaux et des gens avides d'action. Quelques noms
sont parvenus jusqu' nous. Tinh Thiu $$ (5) qui, d'aprs les mss. A. 1 9 i 9 et
A. 761, avait t fonctionnaire des Leang et compagnon de Ly-Bn en Chine et qui

C'U-duc. Il est probable que la tradition vietnamienne est errone et que sous les Han le C'u-chn
tait la commanderie la plus mridionale de la Chine, comprenant le Thanh-ho et une partie du
Ngb-an actuel. A partir des Han et au cours des sicles, les autorits administratives du Cm-chn
ont pouss plus au sud les limites de leur juridiction pour suivre les progrs de la colonisation.
Le Cni-chn s'est tendu sur tout le Ngh-an et le H-tinh actuels et les Wou ont d crer le Cu>udu'c avec la partie sud du Cuni-chn et les territoires qui s'y taient ajouts. On eut alors Gu'U-chn
et C'u-d>c, ce dernier se trouvant la limite extrme-sud de l'empire chinois au contact du Linyi. Ce processus de l'organisation administrative chinoise aux frontires tait courant ces poques
anciennes. Le commentaire du CM. dit nettement, loc. cit., si nous examinons les Mmoires des Tsin
- ^ [pour l'histoire des Tsin - ] la commanderie de Kieou-t (C>u-d>c) date des Wou.
C'est le territoire de la province actuelle de H-tinh .
l') Voir note prcdente.
(*) Sur les problmes gographiques, folkloriques et ethonographiques concernant le Lin-yi,
cf. Rolf Stein, op. cit.
l) Dans sa traduction du Bai Vit Stb K Ton Thw, Henri Maspero dit que Ly-Bn a servi sous
Siao Tseu et qu'il servit sous lu sans raliser son ambition. Le B.V.S.K. que j'utilise dit jfc
^f ik. Ly-Bn, au service des Leang comme fonctionnaire, n'ayant pas ralis
ses dsirs, retourna Thi-binh. Le texte continue : cette poque, le gouverneur Siao Tseu
avait perdu le cur du peuple parce qu'il commettait des exactions et tait violent; l'Empereur
(Ly-Bn) projeta de lever des troupes pour le chasser. Suit alors le passage concernant TinhThiu; puis q. 5, 1 y le texte reprend f & % t % f
. : ca cette poque, il (Ly-Bn) tait inspecteur des troupes du C>u-du>c; dans ces
circonstances les braves des chu voisins rpondirent tous son appel. J'interprte les faits de la
manire suivante : Ly-Bn servit les Leang en Chine ; comme ses dsirs n'taient pas satisfaits (ou
bien : contre ses dsirs) il retourna Thi-binh ; il occupa ensuite la charge d'inspecteur au C'ud45 et ce moment-l se rvolta contre Siao Tseu. Les manuscrits du V.B.U.L.T. font vivre L>Bn et Tinh-Thiu ensemble en Chine. A. 1919 dit qu'aprs une vexation subie par Tinh-Thiu
ils retournrent tous deux dans leur pays natal ^ ^ ^ ^ J! . Le ms. A. 76 1, 19 1*
est formel sur ce point Jj g fj jfc f$ Bon et Thiu revinrent dans leur commanderie
natale.
(*) Le B.V.S.K. donne fa fg . Les manuscrits du V.B.V.L.T. donnent fa 1(*) Le V.B.U.L.T. A. 1919 crit ^ g. L'orthographe varie d'ailleurs suivant les manuscrits

440

MAURICE DURAND

tait retourn en Giao-chu la suite d'un affront du ministre de l'intrieur Ts'ai


Tsouen . Bless dans son amour-propre, Tinh Thieu se rallia facilement
Ly-Bn. tin autre adjoint de Ly-Bn fut un chef local W de Chu-din ^ nomm TrieuTc ~- Enfin des noms plus clbres : Pham-Tu $ * s'illustra contre le
Lin-yi, TriiHi-Quang Phuc " % f qui prendra la succession de L Bon et
deviendra Triu Vit-Vuong, sujet du premier texte que nous publions ; Ly-Thin Bo ^
% ^ , frre de Ly-Bn, et Ly-Pht-T de la famille de Ly-Bn, sujet du second texte
que nous publions.
Siao Tseu s'avoua vaincu sans combat, semble-t-il, et, par des prsents offerts
Ly-Bn, acheta la possibilit de fuir au Kouang-tcheou J|| > , base des troupes
chinoises charges de maintenir l'ordre dans les pays au sud du Yue.
Ly-Bn s'empara alors du chef-lieu du Giao-chu, Long-bien fjf W.
Cependant, au Kouang-tcheou, Siao Tseu, en collaboration avec les autorits
locales, tentait d'organiser la reconqute du territoire perdu. H ne put imposer sa
volont aux gouverneurs Lou Tseu-hiong J$j[ ^ et Souen Kiong |{5) chargs
par ordre imprial de rtablir l'ordre au Giao-chu.
En 5 ap. J.-C, au printemps, alors que les troupes de Tseu-hiong et de Souen
Kiong, devaient se mettre en marche, leurs chefs demandrent de remettre
l'expdition l'automne. Ils craignaient la malaria du printemps. Leur suggestion ne fut
pas accepte par le gouverneur du Kouang, Siao Ying (, appuy par Siao Tseu.
Tseu-hiong et Souen Kiong se mirent en marche contre-cur. Arrivs dans la
prfecture de Ho-p'ou fe W *4)> leurs troupes subirent des pertes dues la maladie
et ne poussrent pas plus loin. Cet chec de la premire tentative d'expdition
contre Ly-Bn s'acheva par la condamnation mort des chefs chinois, Tseu-hiong et
Souen- Kiong, mauvais organisateurs ou guerriers pusillanimes.
Nos manuscrits du V.f.U.L.T. ne parlent pas de cette contre-offmsive avorte.
En accord avec les Annales officielles, ils montrent que durant l'anne 543 ap. J.-C.
(9* anne Ta-t'ong des Leang), Ly-Bn, en plus des difficults d'une situation
extrieure menaante du fait des prparatifs chinois au Kouang-tcheou et dans les
provinces voisines restes fidles aux Leang, dut repousser une attrque du Lin-yi sur
la prfecture frontalire du C u-du'c. Ce fut son gnral Pham-Tu qui battit le roi
du Lin-yi et permit Ly-Bn d'organiser le nouvel tat et de prendre des dispositions
pour faire face une attaque de la Chine qui le considrait comme un rebelle
exterminer.
En 5 ap. J.-C. les Annales vietnamiennes relatent les mesures prises par LyBn pour organiser le royaume indpendant du Sud et fonder la dynastie des L
antrieurs. Mesures symboliques et mystiques : il se proclame L Nam d j|j % ,
L Empereur du Sud, inaugure pour la premire fois dans l'histoire du Viet-Nam
l'institution d'une re de rgne, l're Thin-duc fg ou re de la Vertu Cleste,
donne son royaume un nom prometteur de prennit, Royaume de Van-xun
" f. ^ ou Royaume des Dix- Printemps, lve Long-bien mme un palais
t1) Chefs autochtones. Le Ts'eu Hai donne jj ^ ainsi sont appels les
grands chefs des Man et des Yi.
(*) Essai de localisation m Maspero, BFO, X, 58 o-5 8 , et voir la suite de mon dveloppement.
(*) Essai de localisation dans le Bc-ninh in Maspero, id. 669.
(*) Ho-p'ou Nom d'une commanderie fonde par les Han Occidentaux. Son territoire
s'tendait sur le territoire de la sous-prfecture actuelle de Hai-k'ang J| dans le Kouang-tong.
Sous les Han Orientaux, il s'tendit sur la sous-prfecture actuelle de Ho-p'ou. Il est important
dans l'histoire ancienne du Vit-Nam ; beaucoup d'expditions chinoises envoyes contre ce dernier
pays l'utilisrent comme base de dpart pour leur infanterie ou leur marine.
(*) La localisation du royaume de Van-xun par Maspero dans le BEFEO, t. X, p. 5 7 1 est diffi-

LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE V1T BIEN U LINH

qui contient toute son esprance, le Palais des Dix-Mille Annes. Mesures
administratives : il organise une hirarchie de fonctionnaires et de dignitaires dont les posies,
les plus levs furent confis ses compagnons de lutte : Tinh-Thiu, Pham-Tu,
Trieu-Tuc, qui devint Grand-Matre -fc .
Cette mme anne l'Empereur des Leang, irrit de l'chec de la premire contreoffensive et de la proclamation de l'indpendance du Royaume des Dix Mille
Printemps, envoie contre Ly-Bn une seconde expdition sous le commandement du
gnral Lan K'in gfc qui choue dans des conditions semblables celle de Tseuhiong et de Souen Kiong. Ses troupes, arrtes par une pidmie, ne dpassent pas
la frontires du Giao-chu.
En 55 ap. J.-C. les Leang, devant ces checs rpts, prirent des mesures
importantes. Tout d'abord changement dans le commandement chinois. Siao Tseu est
remplac par Yang P'iao [ comme gouverneur du Giao-chu. A l'exemple des
Han qui avaient envoy l'un de leurs plus grands chefs militaires le gnral Ma
Yuan contre les surs Tnrng, les Leang envoyrent contre Ly-Bn, Tch'en Pa-sien
(Ten B-tin) . %. Ensuite, ils mirent des moyens importants en hommes et
en matriel la disposition du nouveau commandant du corps expditionnaire
chinois. Tch'en Pa-sien, un des plus grands personnages de l'Empire des Leang,
sut se faire obir des gouverneurs chinois et pousser ses troupes aller avec confiance
au combat.
Le rassemblement des troupes chinoises se fit au Kiang-si. Le gouverneur du Ting
tcheou 5 'J'I-j , Siao Pou " %jj runit ses troupes celles du nouveau gouverneur
dsign du Giao-chu, Yang P'iao. Tch'en Pa-sien pntra en Giao-chu l'avantgarde du corps expditionnaire chinois.
Ly-Bn subit une srie d'checs et perdit son royaume. Il est d'abord vaincu
Ghu-din. De l il se replie sur le fleuve T-lich j| { dans les environs du Hanoi
actuel. H y subit une grave dfaite et se retire dans la prfecture de Gia-ninh . j.
Les gnraux des Leang l'y poursuivent et l'assigent.
En 546 ap. J.-C. Yang P'iao s'empare du chef-lieu de Gia-ninh. Ly Bon se retire
de plus en plus vers la haute rgion, d'abord Tn-xuomg f dans le Phongchu, puis chez les Leao ^ au lac Bin-trit JL ^ffc. Battu par Tch'en Pa-sien il
se retira dans la circonscription barbare du Khuat-liu Jjjj , o il essaya de
reconstituer ses forces pour continuer la lutte. A partir de ce moment Ly-Bn n'apparat
plus comme le chef rel de la rsistance vietnamienne. Il a dlgu ses pouvoirs
Trieu-Quang-Phuc et s'il reste encore roi en titre jusqu'en 548 ap. J.-C., au
troisime mois lunaire, en fait, Trieu-Quang-Phuc dirige les oprations. A la mort de
Ly-Bn, Empereur du Sud, Triu Quang-Phuc se proclame roi du Viet (4* mois
lunaire commenant le a 4 avril 548).
La localisation du Chu-din par Maspero dans le Hi-du'O>ng actuel (BEFEO, ibid,
p. 58 1) ne rpond pas la localisation traditionnelle vietnamienne qui le place au
ph de Vnh-tu''ng dans le Vnh-yn actuel W. Cette dernire localisation explique

cile admettre. Le nom de Van-xun tait l'appellation donne au Giao-chu indpendant. LyBn occupait Long-bien comme capitale et, jusqu' sa dfaite, son pouvoir s'tendait au moins
sur la partie nord du Fleuve Rouge et particulirement sur la rgion de Bc-ninh. Son successeur
dsign, Triu-Quang-Phuc, essaya de reconqurir le royaume de Ly-Bn et la tradition vietnamienne
dit qu'il y russit, s'installa Long-bien et se proclama roi du Vit.
(*) Dans les textes antrieurs 1 89 1 on lit ph de Vnh-tuwng dans le Som-ty. Le ph de Vnhtu''ng a appartenu la province de So>n-tAy de 1 8 8 a 1891. En 1891, il passa au dao de Vnh-yn
qui en 1899 devient province de Vinh-yn. (cf. Bic^-dw cc tlnh Bc-ky chez L-van-Tn, 190,
Hanoi, p. 119).

442

MAURICE DURAND >

plus facilement es phases de la campagne que soutint Ly-Bn contre Tch'en Pa-sien.
En effet, Ly-Bn, aprs avoir chass le gouverneur chinois Siao Tseu, occupa le
chef-lieu du chu de Giao, c'est--dire Long-bien. Quand Tch'en Pa-sien attaqua LyBn, il runit ses troupes au Si-kiang |J ou Fleuve de l'Ouest d'aprs Maspero,
alors que les textes vietnamiens ont Kiang-si. De l il marche sur le Giaochu. P'iao [ le gouverneur chinois, avec Tch'en Pa-sien en avant-garde, arriva
au chu (1); Maspero traduisant le B.V.S.K.T.T. dit au chef-lieu (2) c'est--dire
Long-bien. Telle est aussi la tradition vietnamienne &h En tenant compte de ces
points, il est plus vraisemblable que Tch'en Pa-sien ait pntr par une voie
terrestre de la frontire nord du Tonkin actuel et aurait rencontr Ly-Bn Chu-din ;
battu Chu-din, Ly-bn se replie alors vers la rgion de H-ni au fleuve T-ljch ;
battu au T-lich, il se replie vers Bach-hac (Gia-ninh), puis un peu plus l'Ouest,
Tn-xu'O'ng et enfin chez les Khuat-liu qui devait occuper la haute rgion au nord
du Fleuve Rouge : Phu-tho, Tuyn-quang, Thai-nguyn. .

W B. V.S.K. T. T., anne 54 1 ap. J.-C. Le texte dit simplement arriva au chu et non au
chef-lieu du chu. La localisation de Maspero suppose que le corps expditionnaire chinois venait
de la cte maritime du Tonkin et remontait le sng Thi-binh. Aucun texte ne le prouve. D'aprs
les textes nous savons seulement que lorsque Pa-sien arriva au chu, c'est--dire au Giao-chu,
Ly-Bn se porta sa rencontre Chu-din. Si, comme le fait Maspero, nous admettons que Longbien tait prs de Bc-ninh et Chu-din prs de Hi-du'cng, on ne. voit pas pourquoi Ly-Bn,
battu Chu-din (Hi-duwng) ne se soit pas repli sur Bc-ninh pour dfendre sa capitale, mais
sur Hanoi (T-lich).
L'hypothse traditionnelle : Long-bien = rgion de Hanoi et Chu-din = rgion de Vinh-yn,
suppose que les troupes chinoises soient venues par le Kouang-si ou le Yunnan, que Ly-Bn
se soit port au devant d'elles dans la rgion de Vnh-yn pour essayer de les arrter et de leur
interdire l'accs de Long-bien (Hanoi). Battu Chu-din (Vnh-yn), il se replia vers Long-bien (Hanoi)
qu'il essaie de dfendre au fleuve T-lich. Battu au fleuve T-lich et en consquence perdant sa
capitale, il songea se emttre en scurit vers la haute rgion.
Cette tactique fut suivie par L-Pht- devant un corps expditionnaire chinois venu du
Yunnan. Maspero (BEFEO, t. XVI, p. a 5) reconstruit cet pisode et fixe H-giang la rencontre de LPht-Tu' et des troupes chinoises.
En acceptant la localisation de Chu-din dans le Vnh-yn, il faut admettre que le Marais de la
Nuit de Triu-Quang-Phuc se trouvait dans cette rgion. Or, les traditions lgendaires du VitNam rapprochent le Marais de la Nuit de Triu-Quang-Pbuc de l'ile de -nhin de la lgende
de ChMng-t' et Tin-dung. H y a eu, mon avis, contamination entre faits lgendaires et lieux.
An-du'O'ng-vu'cng reut la griffe de la Tortue d'Or dans la rgion de C-loa, situe une vingtaine
de kilomtres de Hanoi, dans la province de Phuc-yn, limitrophe de celle de Vnh-yn. Triu-QuangPhuc, rfugi dans le Marais de la Nuit, au Vlnh-yn, prs de la haute rgion du Nord du Tonkin
actuel, bnficie d'un rapprochement de lieux. Sa rsistance aux Chinois apparut comme
merveilleuse, vu ses moyens humains ; on imagina une aide surnaturelle et on forgea une histoire semblable
celle d'An-du'O'ng-vu'O'ng, bien connue dans les sanctuaires des provinces limitrophes (Phuc-yn
et Bc-ninh). D'autant plus que l'histoire de la rivalit de Triu-Quang-Phuc et de Ly-Pht-T
rappelait trangement la rivalit entre An-du>o>ng-vu>o>ng et Triu-B.
Le marais d'o Triu-Quang-Phuc attaquait les Chinois s'appela Marais de la Nuit parce qu'il
n'en sortait que la nuit. Or, dans le cycle lgendaire des rois Hng, nous avons le Marais d'Une
Nuit. Ce nom apparat dans la lgende de Ch>-dng-t> et de Tin-dung qui, exils du royaume
de Vn-lang (rgion de la province de Som-ty et celle de Vinh-yn d'aprs la tradition lgendaire),
s'en vont au loin l'Ile de Tu>-nhin (province de H-dng). Les circonstances tranges de la
disparition de leur ville et de leurs personnes en cet endroit et en une nuit ont fait baptiser le terrain nu
et sauvage qui en restait : Marais d'Une Nuit. La contamination entre Marais d'Une Nuit et Marais
de la Nuit est facile. Oubliant la localisation du Chu-din dans le VTnh-yn, et la localisation du
Marais de la Nuit dans le Chu-din, on identifia Marais de la Nuit et Marais d'Une Nuit. Certaines
traditions mme rapportent que Chu>-dong-t> tait le gnie qui, mont sur un dragon, vint au
secours de Triu-Quang-Phuc dans le Marais de la Nuit.
(*) Maspero, BEFEO, t. XVI, p. 5, n. 1.
() B.V.S.K.,? 6.

LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE VIT BIEN U LINH TP

D'aprs les Annales vietnamiennes, les faits postrieurs la dfaite de Ly-Bn


se droulent de la manire suivante :
57 ap. J.-C. Trieu-Quang-Phuc dtient le commandement effectif des troupes
du Nam-Vit. Aprs plusieurs combats livrs contre Tch'en -sien sans qu'aucune
dcision n'ait t obtenue, il se replie dans la rgion marcageuse connue sous le
nom de Marais de la Nuit et localis dans le Chu-din ^ ]jt~. Il s'y tablit avec
90.000 hommes et, la nuit seulement, mne des oprations de harclement contre
les troupes des Leang.
548 ap. J.-C. .En avril, mort de Ly-Bn, Empereur du Sud. La tradition vit-
namienne le fait mourir de maladie au dng des Khut-lieu (ou de Khuat-liu).
L'histoire chinoise dit au contraire que les Khut-lieu le turent et offrirent sa tte
aux Leang.
En mai, aprs la mort de Ly-Bn, les Leang soumettent le chu de Giao et le chu
de Ai, c'est - dire le Tonkin et le nord du Centre Viet-Nam actuel.
59 ap. J.-C. Les successeurs de Ly-Bn continuent la rsistance. TriuQuang-Phuc se maintient dans le Marais de la Nuit. Ly-Thin-bao et Ly-Pht-T
s'enfuient chez les Ai-lao et y fondent le royaume de D-nng.
55o ap. J.-C. Tch'en -sien est rappel en Chine et remplac par le gnral
Yang Tch'an (Duong San) | comme commandant des troupes chinoises
oprant contre Trieu Quang-Phuc. Yang Tch'an est dfait et meurt. Trieu Quang-Phuc
entre dans Long bien et s'y fixe.
555 ap. J.-C. Mort de Ly-Thin Bo dans son royaume de Da-nng. Ly-PhtT> est proclam hritier.
557 ap. J.-C. L-Phat-T', avec ses troupes, descend vers l'Est et combat
Triu-Quang-Phuc au de Thi-binh. Les adversaires, n'ayant pu obtenir
une dcision par les armes, arrivent un accord et se partagent le royaume. QuangPhuc conserve sa capitale Long-bien, Pht-T' installe la sienne O-duyn.
671 ap. J.-C. Les Souei envoient Yang Sou (Dwo>ng ) . pour rduire
le Giao-chi en rvolte. Les Annales des Souei nomment Ly-Xun ^ ^ comme chef
de la rvolte.
602 ap.J.-C. Ly-Pht-T' fait occuper Long-bien par son fils an ftai-quyn
f et -duyn par son gnral L-Pho-Binh . ^J. Les Souei envoient
Lieou Fang (Lu'u Phu'Ong) |?|J -fj. Ly-Phat-T, vaincu, est emmen comme
prisonnier en Chine. Il meurt en route.
Plusieurs difficults se prsentent dans l'claircissement des faits. Les textes
chinois analyss par Maspero dans son tude sur les L antrieurs (BEFEO, XVI,
p. i-2 6), les traditions vietnamiennes et l'hagiographie du Nord Vit-Nam nous
aideront fixer certains points.
Tout d'abord la succession de Ly-Bn^. Quand Tch'en -sien occupa le delta
tonkinois, le gros des forces de Ly-Bn fut refoul vers la haute rgion occupe
alors par des populations tai. Selon la tradition vietnamienne, Ly-Bn, suivi de
son frre an L-Thien-Bo, de ses gnraux, Ly-Ph^t Tu et Trieu-Quang-Phuc,
s'installe chez les Khut-lieu ^ qui occupaient la rgion de Ph-ho(3). Une tradition
() Longuement discut par Ng-Thi-S dans B. V.S.K., f 6 a.
<> B.V.S.K., f 5 b.
(s) Hong-xun-Hn, op. at. .

444

MAURICE DURAND

chinoise, cite par Nguyn-Thuc-Khim dans Nam Phong, ne 11, p. 9, plaait


les Khut-lieu l'ouest de Thai-nguyn. Ces deux localisations ne sont pas
tellement loignes l'une de l'autre ; en tout cas le district des Khut-lieu se
trouvait dans la haute Rgion tonkinoise au nord du Fleuve Rouge.
De chez les Khut-, toujours d'aprs la tradition vietnamienne, L-Pht-T
et L-Thin-Bo, la tte de leurs troupes, pntrrent au C'u-chn et au chu
de Ai. Mais ils y sont battus par Tch'en Pa-sien et sont obligs de se rfugier chez
les Ai-Iao (548 ap. J.-C). L'histoire chinoise ne parle pas du sjour de Ly-ThinBo et L-rhat-T' chez les Khut-lieu. Par contre, elle parle de la soumission du
chu de Ai.
Ainsi, ds 57, du vivant mme de Ly Bon, d'aprs les Annales vietnamiennes M,
aprs la mort de Ly-Bn, d'aprs les Annales chinoises &\ il y eut deux noyaux de
rsistance : l'un au nord du Fleuve Rouge, command par Triu-Quang-Phuc,
l'autre au sud du Fleuve Rouge, command par Ly-Thin-Bo et Ly-Pht-Tu>.
D ne semble pas qu'il faille accorder crance la tradition vietnamienne qui veut
que ces derniers aient d'abord suivi Ly-Bn chez les Khut-lieu et de l seraient
descendus sur le C'U-chn et le chu de Ait3*. D'une manire plus plausible, il
faut admettre que ds les premiers succs de Tch'en, -sien, Ly-Thin Bo et LPht-T' organisaient la rsistance dans le nord du Centre Vit-Nam. Tch'en Pa-sien,
aprs avoir chass Ly-Bn du d^lta, se retourna contre Ly-Thin-Bo et L^
Pht-T' et les chassait du chu de Ai. Les chu de Giao et de Ai taient
pacifis (*>.
Mais, les Annales chinoises, rsumes par Maspero M, montrent le dsordre qui
rgne alors partir de bj dans l'administration chinoise. Les troubles intrieurs
en Chine ont leur rpercussion sur la situation dans les pays du Sud : les prfets
ou gouverneurs se succdent ; les rvoltes sont l'tat endmique ; on change
frquemment d'organisation administrative; les seigneurs locaux troublent le pays
par leurs luttes intestines.
Dans cette quasi-anarchie, l'histoire vietnamienne donne place deux rgnes,
celui de Trieu-Quang-Phuc, sous le nom de Trieu Viet-vuo'ng et celui de Ly-PhtT' sous le nom de Ly-Nam-cf. Ces deux seigneurs, hostiles l'un l'autre, rgnaient
paralllement l'un au nord du Fleuve Rouge, l'autre au sud, s'estimant, chacun
de son ct, tre le successeur lgitime de Ly-Bn. Trieu-Quang-Phuc avait pris
directement la succession de Ly-Bn chez les Khuat-liu et Ly-Pht-T tait le
successeur du frre de Ly-Bn. Ce n'est que tardivement que les historiens
vietnamiens, dsireux de mettre de l'ordre dans la suite des dynasties nationales, ont
dcid de considrer L-Pht-T> comme successeur lgitime.
La deuxime difficult rside dans la localisation du royaume, ou du domaine
d'action, de Triu-Quang-Ph'C d'une part, et du royaume, ou du domaine d'action,
de L-Phat Tu d'autre part.
Aprs avoir t chasss par Tch'en Pa-sien du chu de Ai, Ly-Thin-Bo etLy-PhtTu se rfugirent en 5 9 chez les Lieu barbares du sud-ouest, dans la rgion de
Ai-lao ^ ^ ou des Ai-lao (*). Dans leur retraite, ils arrivrent la source d'un

<)
()
(*)
<*)
<>
()

B. V.S.K.,op.f cit.,
B.V.8.K.,P3
Maspero,
5 b. d'aprs le Tchen chou, k. 1, f 9 a.
B. V.S.K., i" 5 bet Maspero, op. cit., p. 9 i, d'aprs Tchen chou, k. 9, f* 9 a.
Op. cit., p. 9 1-3 9.
B.V.S.K.,t 6 b.

LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE VIT BIEN U LTNH TP

445

fleuve &o ffi, W, sur un territoire nomm D-nng fg W. Cette rgion plut
Ly-Thin-Bo par sa fertilit et sa richesse. Il y fonda un royaume auquel il donna
le nom de royaume de D-nng - {? et ses partisans le nommrent roi de
Bo-lang 5 3E. O placer ce royaume de Da-nng? Une tradition vietnamienne suivie par M. Rolf
Stein (3) fixe le royaume de Da-nng l'embouchure du fleuve Ma dans le Thanhho actuel. Si l'on veut maintenir une certaine logique entre les donnes fournies
par l'histoire de Ly-Thin-Bo, Ly-Phat-Tir et Triu-Quang-Phuc, il faudrait placer
ce royaume de D-nng l'intrieur de l'Indochine et le localiser aux sources du
fleuve Ma et plus l'ouest, dans cette rgion qui chevauche sur les frontires actuelles
du Tonkin, du Nord Laos, du sud du Yunnan et du nord-est de la Birmanie. Les
raisons de cette localisation sont les suivantes :
i L-Thin-Bo ne fonde ce royaume qu'aprs avoir t chass du chu de Ai,
c'est--dire du nord du Centre Vit-Nam actuel. Ds b'j ap. J.-C, le Tonkin
et l'Annam du Nord taient reconquis par les Chinois W;
3e L'ancien Ai-lao comprenait des populations tai dont les anctres demeuraient
au Mont Lao au Yunnan <5). En la priode Yong-p'ing des Han (58 76) les Chinois
crrent la prfecture de Ai-lao et celle de Po-Nan, localises aux sous-prfectures
actuelles de Pao-chan et de Yong-p'ing dans le Yunnan (*K Pour les historiens
vietnamiens, Ai-lao dsignait toutes les populations autochtones de l'intrieur de
l'Indochine dont le territoire, l'est, touchait la moyenne rgion tonkinoise, et
l'Ouest, s'tendait dmesurment jusqu' des limites imprcises. Actuellement
l'interprtation vulgaire identifie les anctres des Laotiens aux Ai-lao de l'histoire;
3 Si nous considrons le nom de Ye (D)<7) comme un nom de peuplade, il
dsigne traditionnellement une population du Yunnan. Un mont Ye (D) se trouve
galement au Yunnan la frontire birmane dans la rgion fertile et bien peuple de
Teng-yue au nord-ouest de la sous-prfecture de Teng-tch'ongM;
4 En plaant le royaume de D-nng aux sources du Ma ou plus l'ouest,
l'indication de la direction de la marche de L-Phat-T contre Trieu-Quang-Phuc
est justifie. En effet, quand Ly-Thin-Bo meurt en 555 ap. J.-C.W, Ly-PhtT' lui succde comme roi de Bo-lang et en 667, la tte de ses troupes, il descend
vers l'est ]ff combattre Triu-Quang-Phuc au huyen de Thai bnh. Or Thai bmh
est traditionnellement localis dans le So'n-ty actuel (l0K
Pour ce qui est de Trieu-Quang-Phuc, aprs avoir tenu le Marais de la Nuit de
57 55o, il parvint dfaire Yang Tch'an (Du'O'ng San), le remplaant de Tch'en
-sien, occuper Long-bien o il se fixa jusqu'en 671. Durant cette priode,

(!) B.V.S.K., f 6 b.
(*) Ou sur le territoire des Da-nng. Le ms. A. 47 du V.B.U.L.T. donne - $ des ours
sauvages.
(s) Lin-yi, p. 6i.
<*> Tch'en chou, d'aprs Maspero, op. cit., p. s 1.
() Heou Han chou, chap. f .
() Ts'eu hai, art. .
) Les Barbares du Yunnan, trad. Souli, BEFEO, i. VIII, p. 364.
(*> Ts'eu hai et Dictionnaire chinois des noms de lieux [| ....
() B. V.S.K.,{ 8 b et Y.B.U.L.T., ms. A. 75 1, P 90 b.
(>*> Cf. p. 3, supra.

446

MAURICE DURAND

les Annales chinoises signalent la prsence d'autorits chinoises au Tonkin et en


Centre Vit-Nam, mais aussi des soulvements des autochtones contre la Chine et
des luttes entre seigneurs locaux M. Les Annales vietnamiennes, elles, sont peu
prolixes. Il semble que Trieu-Quang-Phuc ait t un de ces seigneurs locaux du nord
du Fleuve Kouge, avec rsidence Long-bien et que mme son autorit s'y soit
maintenue avec l'agrment des Chinois. Aussi quand Ly-Pht-T descendit des
rgions tai et marcha vers l'est sur le delta, il trouva devant lui, non des troupes
chinoises, mais les troupes de Trieu-Quang-Phuc. Par contre, quand L-Phat-T'
eut battu Triu Quang Phuc et que celui ci eut disparu, il trouva en face de lui
des troupes chinoises qui finalement le battirent (2).
De cet ensemble de donnes semi-historiques, semi-lgendaires, le fait que TrieuQuang-Phuc exerait son autorit sur le nord du Fleuve Rouge et L-Phat-T' sur
le sud du Fleuve Rouge est confirm par l'hagiographie du Nord Viet-Nam. La plus
grande partie des temples consacrs Trieu-Quang-Phuc et ses seconds se trouvent
dans la province de Bac-ninh o se trouvait la capitale de Long-bien. Par contre la
plupart des temples de Ly-Pht-T' se trouvent dans la province de H-dng. La
tradition vietnamienne rapportant le partage du pays entre nos deux hros fournit
des donnes en rapport avec les conclusions tires de l'hagiographie.
En effet les enqutes menes par questionnaires sur les directives de l'Ecole
Franaise d'Extrme-Orient donnent tous les temples de Trieu-Quang-Phuc et de
ses gnraux Tru'omg-Hong et Tnrcng-Ht dans le Bc-ninh. Je signale les numros
n, i4, 18, 20, 29, 66, 3 1, 28, 29 du dossier Bac ninh. Voici, par exemple, sur
Trieu-Quang-Phuc la tradition du thon de Cu4;rinh Je jj, x de Hi-phu -ff J=L
(anciennement Coi-giang-trang), tng de Hoi-phu, huyen de ftng-ngn ^ j^, ph
de Tu>-so'n jf lij : son village natal est en Chu-din; sa naissance fut annonce ,
par un prsage ses parents. A 1 8 ans, il aida Ly-Bn, parvint au grade de gnral
et dfit les Leang. Les Leang revinrent avec des troupes et battirent JLy-Thin-Bo
qui se rfugia au Laos. Triu Vijt-viro>ng rassembla les troupes dcimes et s'installa
au quan de V-ninh o il leva une citadelle. Beaucoup de gens vinrent lui. On
le pria d'tre le chef. Il accepta. Ce jour-l, il vit en rve une immortelle qui se disait
fille de l'Empereur Cleste et qui venait l'aider. Elle lui dit : L'Assemble Cleste
a dcid que vous seriez roi d'Annam. Elle vous dit de retirer vos troupes Giatrach (Da-Trach) o un gnie vous aidera rprimer les Leang n. A son rveil, il
offrit un banquet ses trois armes et se retira au Gia-trach. Il donna trente lang d'or
pour lever un temple l'Immortelle. Arriv au Gia-trach, il vit un gnie humain
mont sur un dragon venir lui donner une griffe de dragon pour combattre les Leang.
Le gnral des Leang fut battu et s'enfuit du pays.
Tru'O'ng-Hng et Tru'0'ng-Ht sont deux gnraux qui, d'aprs la tradition, aidrent
Trieu-Quang-Phuc. Leur histoire est raconte dans le Lnh Nam Trick Qui. Ils y
sont reprsents comme des modles de fidlit. En effet, quand Trieu Viet-vu'omg
fut ananti par Ly-Pht-Tu, ils refusrent de se soumettre se cachrent dans les
montagnes et s'empoisonnrent pour ne pas tomber aux mains de Ly-Pht-Tu>
(ms. A. 2107 de l'E.F.E.O.).
Les temples de Ly-Ph^t-Tir sont indiqus aux numros 6, 12, 2 du dossier Hdng, tous dans le ph de Hoi-du'C. Je rsume les donnes de la rponse des notables
du village de Djch-vong-hau (en nom Vng-cm). Gnral des L antrieurs,
compagnon de L-Thin-Bo, adversaire de Trn Ba-tin (Tch'en -sien), il se replia
O) Maspero, id., p. 9 a.
P) B. V.S.K., f a a, et Maspero, if., p. a4.

LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE VIT BIEN D LINH

sur le territoire de Gi-nng (Da-nng) et se proclama roi de Bo-lang. Grce TrieuQuang-Phux qui chassa Tch'en -sien, il devint roi des L. Sur une demande de
partage du royaume, on divisa le territoire aux villages de Timing et Ha-ct
(H-dng). Par la suite, en partant de -duyn, il descendit attaquer Trieu-QuangPhuc. Celui-ci, battu, s'enfuit vers la mer. Ly-Pht-Tu devint L-Nam-d ; mais peu
aprs les Souei vinrent l'attaquer. Aimant son peuple, il ne voulut pas rsister et
se soumit. Puis Lu'U Phu'O-ng dcida de l'emmener en Chine. Arrivs au port de Tiunha, le pre et le fils se noyrent. Les gens de la rgion leur levrent un temple.
Texte 111 du V.B.U.L.T., ms. A. l
L'Auguste Empereur, Eclair sur la Voie, fondateur du Royaume, au Courage
Saint et la Valeur Guerrire divine.
D'aprs les Mmoires historiques W, l'Empereur avait pour nom de famille Trieu W ;

(*> II s'agit ici des Mmoires historiques ] |g d'un certain Bo-Thin j , une des sources
du V.B.U.L.T. Cet ouvrage ne nous est pas parvenu et nous n'avons aucun renseignement en
dehors d'un passage de L-Qui-Bn, ^ ^ f^- Henri Maspero date l'ouvrage des premires
annes du xiv* sicle entre 1387 et 129 (tudes d'histoire d'Annam, in BEFEO, 1916,
p. i3). M. E. Gaspardone, dans sa Bibliographie annamite, n 3o, suggre que ce Bo-Thin pourrait
tre le personnage du Palais qui fut envoy en 1 128 au marquis Sng |, pre de L Thn-tn
: ij (1 137-1 1 38), pour lui annoncer l'intronisation de son fils.
() Triu. II n'est pas sans intrt de rapprocher ce nom de celui de Triu V5-vu>o>ng j|j| jj^
2 alias Triu B ^ jf (Tchao T'o) qui en 908 av. J.-G. chassa le roi An-du>O'ng-vu>o>ng de
son trne et se proclama roi du Nam-Vit. Triu-B, grce la tratrise de son fils Trong Thy
1 ftp poux de la fille d'An-du>O'ng-vu'O>ng, obtint la griffe de la Tortue d'Or qui lui permit de
s'emparer du pays d'An-du>o>ng-vu>o>ng. Ce dernier, au moment de la fondation de la capitale
de Loa 1^ |jj| avait obtenu de la Tortue d'Or une griffe doue d'un pouvoir magique. Avec elle,
Gao Lo >, ministre de An-du>o>ng-vu>o'ng, construisit une arbalte dont une seule flche
mettait en fuite les ennemis. Triu B vaincu une premire fois comprit qu'il fallait drober Andu'O'ng-vu'omg son talisman. Il fit la paix avec ce dernier et demanda pour son fils Trong Thy la
main de Mi-nu>o>ng jf |, fille d'An-du'O'ng-vu>o>ng. Mais Trong Thy par une indiscrtion de
son pouse put drober la griffe de la Tortue d'Or. Il rejoignit son pre Triu B et tous deux
attaqurent An-du>o ng-vu>o'ng qui, vaincu, s'enfuit cheval avec Mi-nu>o>ng en croupe. Arrivs
au bord de la mer et accul par ses ennemis, An-du>o>ng-vu>o>ng invoqua le secours de la Tortue
d'Or qui, jaillissant hors de l'eau, accusa Mi-nu>o>ng. An-du>o'ng-vu>o>ng dcapita sa fille et suivit
la Tortue dans le Royaume des Eaux. Les thmes de cette lgende sont sensiblement identiques
ceux de la lgende de Triu-Vit-vu>o>ng et de Ly-Phtr-T>. Triu Vit-vu'cng reoit d'un
dragon, gnie aquatique, une griffe destine tre un talisman qui doit lui assurer la victoire sur les
troupes ennemies. Grce ce talisman Triu-Vit-vuo>ng battra Ly-Pht-T. Ly-Pht-T'
demandera la paix et la fille de Triu Vit-vu>o>ng, Co-nu>o>ng, pour son fils Nh-Lang. Nh-Lang
drobe la griffe de dragon et s'en va chez son pre. Ils attaquent Triu-Vit vu>o>ng qui est
vaincu et s'enfuit avec sa fille Co-nu>o>ng. Arriv au bord de la mer, Triu Vit-vu'omg, accul,
demande l'aide du Dragon Protecteur. Celui-ci apparat et accuse Co-nuwng qui est tue par
son pre. Ce dernier disparat dans le Royaume des Eaux la suite du Dragon.
Thmes identiques dans deux lgendes qui, rapproches des lgendes concernant les premiers
ges des pays du Sud du Yue, pourraient montrer l'importance de l'lment maritime ou fluvial
dans le folklore de ces dbuts lgendaires et l'esprit moralisateur de ce folklore qui punit en la
personne de Triu Vit-vu'O'ng la perfidie d'un autre Triu : Triu-B.
Pour la lgende de Trong-thy et Mi-nu>o>ng, je suis le texte du Lnh Nam Trich Quai, A. 3107,
fss&35 6. Le ms. A. 76 1 du V.B.U.L.T. rapporte avec assez de dtails la lgende de NhLang et de Co-nu>o>ng.

448

MAURICE DURAND

son nom interdit est Quang-Phuc; il tait originaire de Chu-din^1). Quand il occupa
le Marais de la Nuit(2) (Da-trach) et tint tte aux troupes des Leang, il eut le prsage
faste de la griffe de dragon et, ds lors, sa rputation militaire se rpandit davantage.
Lorsque les Leang subirent la rvolte de Heou King(3>, ils donnrent l'ordre
Tch'en Pa-sien^ de revenir; le gnral adjoint Yang Si entra en lutte contre
l'Empereur. L'Empereur le vainquit compltement. Le royaume fut alors en paix et il
alla rsider Long-bien W. Il se proclama Triu, roi de Viet, et resta sur le trne
vingt-trois ans. Mais Nh-lang(6> s'empara en cachette de la griffe de dragon et,
(*) Chu-din ^c jfj. On prononce galement Ghu-din. Henri Maspero (op. cit., p. 6) localise
ce territoire dans le Hi-du>o>ng actuel dans le Nord Vit-Nam. Les commentateurs vietnamiens le
localisent gnralement au ph de Vinh-tu>>ng dans la province de Vinh-yn (cf. Hong-xunHan in Dai Nam Que Su Bien Ca (dit. Sng-Nh, Hanoi, 199, et Nguyn-thuc-Khim in NamPhong, n i3t, p. 49).
(*> Le Marais de la Nuit. Cette lgende de Triu Yit-vu'O'ng se rattache des lgendes plus
anciennes du cycle des empereurs lgendaires du Vit-Nam, les empereurs de la dynastie des Hongbng J?g. - D'aprs le Cwwng , t. b., q. 4, f 6 6, Bibl. de l'E.F.E.O., A. 2674), ce marais
doit tre localis dans l'ancienne sous-prfecture de Bng-kt Jjj -jsjjjf , ph de Kin-xu>o>ng, ^
, aujourd'hui ph de Khoai-chu ^jjj ]\\ , huyn de Bng-yn ^ . On l'appela Marais de
la Nuit, parce que Ly-Bn et Triu-Quang-Phuc, acculs par Tchen -sien s'y rfugirent et
n'en sortaient que la nuit pour harceler leur ennemi. Une autre explication de ce nom est donne
par le Lnh Nam Trtch Quai. Autrefois, la fille d'un roi des Hng-bng, Tin-dung Mi-nu>o>ng |||j
'&L la Princesse la Mine de Fe, au retour d'une croisire arriva un lot fluvial o
demeurait Ch>-Bng-tu> ||J ^. Leur rencontre, comparable celle d'Ulysse et de Nausicaa,
se termina par un mariage. Le roi fut irrit de cette msalliance de sa fille et chassa les deux poux
qui, grce des procds magiques, dvelopprent une ville ferique dans le lieu qui serait
maintenant l'le de T>-nhin g ffo et de l dominrent la rgion. Le roi Hong crut une rvolte
et envoya des troupes chtier sa fille et son gendre. Ces derniers ne voulurent pas combattre leur

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LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE VIT BIEN V LINH TAP

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Texte III du V.B.V.L.T., me. A. 47.

449

450

MAURICE DURAND

avec son pre, projeta d'attaquer par surprise l'Empereur. Celui-ci emmenant
sa fille s'enfuit vers le sud et se jeta dans la mer. Par la suite, il manifesta sa puissance
surnaturelle; les gens du royaume levrent un temple l'embouchure du Bainha W et lui offrirent des sacrifices comme Gnie du Bonheur.
Sous la dynastie des Trn, en la premire anne de la priode Trung-hrng 2),
un dcret imprial le nomma Auguste Empereur Eclair sur la Voie ; la quatrime
anne, on lui confra en outre les deux caractres Khai-co> (Fondateur du Royaume) ;
en la vingt et unime anne de la priode Hu>ng-long(2), on ajouta les quatre
caractres Thnh-liet Than-v (Guerrier Gnie la Sainte Splendeur). -,
Texte IV du V.B.U.L.T., ms. A. 47
L'Auguste Empereur, Hroque, Glorieux, Humain, Pieux, Respectueux,
Intelligent, Saint et Guerrier.
L'Empereur avait pour nom de famille L ; son nom interdit est Ph^t-T f$j
^ <3>. Il fut gnral de la famille de Thin-Bo % (3>, puis Empereur du Sud
des L postrieurs ( L Nam-B).
Au dbut, le frre an de l'Empereur du Sud des L antrieurs (Tien L Nam-d),
Thin-Bo et Phat-T', gnral de sa famille, se rfugirent au dng (4) de D-nng
la source de la rivire Bo (5) dans l'Ai-lao (5). L'Empereur y fonda un royaume
du nom du dng [de D-nng] et se proclama roi de Bo-lang. A sa mort le peuple
(*) Une note du mme D.V.S.K.T.T. localise Bai-nha J ;}f| dans la sous-prfecture de Bai-an
-J t de la province actuelle de Nam-dinh. Cf. galement Maspero, op. cit., p. 16. Selon le
Cuw>ng Mue, t. b., q. , f i3 b, le Bai-nha se serait appel autrefois Bai-ac ^^-| ou 3$. '
(*) Cette priode s1 tend de 1 a 8 5 1 s 9 3. La priode Humg-long va de 1 2 9 3 1 3 1 4.
(5) Ces deux titres posthumes montrent l'expansion grandissante du bouddhisme en Giaochu. Ds le dbut du vi* sicle, le bouddhisme s'tait profondment rpandu en Chine et dans
les tats vassaux comme la Core et le Vit-Nam (Wieger, Bouddhisme, dit. 1 9 1 o, p. 109). La
tradition vietnamienne rapporte qu' l'poque des L antrieurs Ti-ni-da-lu'u-chi (chin. P'i-ni-touoliou-tcheu Ifljfc ^ ^ ^f ), Vintaruci (cf. Wieger, id., p. 127) passa quelques annes (5 805g 4) la pagode de Phap-vn (village de Vn-gip, huyn de Thuwng-phuc, province de H-dng)'
II y traduisit des textes religieux et en 694 y mourut. Il passe pour le fondateur en Vit-Nam de
la secte mystique du dhyana dont le patriarche chinois est Bodhidharma (cf. Mt-Th, Vift-Nam
Pht-giao sfo-hwc, Hanoi, dit. Tn Viet, 1944, p. 89). Il est intressant de rapprocher la
prsence de Vintaruci dans la partie sud du Fleuve Rouge dans la province de H-dng, et le fait
que L\-Pht-T> dominait cette rgion. D'autre part l'hagiographie du Nord Vit-Nam nous a
montr la prpondrance des temples de L-Phat-T' dans la province de H-dng. Il en est de
mme pour Ly-Thin-Bo dont le seul temple signal par l'enqute se trouve au village de Ph-m
huyn de Ttc-lim, phu de Ho-dc, province de H-dng.
(4) En vietnamien nous avons deux mots de mme son, mais transcrits par des caractres
lgrement diffrents, l'un avec la cl eau , l'autre avec la cl montagne |||jjj. Le sens du premier
est cavit, antre, valle profonde ; celui du second est montagne aride, antre, cavit. Les deux
termes dsignent un territoire habit par des tribus montagnardes. Ainsi le Dictionnaire de l'AFIMA
explique dng cho dn so>n-cu>>c > lieu habit par les populations de la moyenne rgion. Les
dng sont des localits, villages ou hameaux avec leurs territoires. Ce nom subsiste encore dans
la haute rgion tonkinoise. Dans le Bai Nam Nhat Thng Chi (A. 69, f i4 a) Minh-mnh, en la
19' anne de son rgne (188) changea les dng en x {* f |f. Ces dng pouvaient tre
fort tendus. Ainsi, d'aprs le mme ouvrage f i5 o, le dng de So'n-la ] ; dpendant
de l'ancien chu de Thun j\\ donna son au chu de So'n-la form sous les Le; or le
chu de Thun comprenait l'origine neuf dng.
(*) Tous ces noms ont fait l'objet d'un commentaire dans mon texte d'introduction.

LA DYNASTIE DES L ANTRIEURS D'APRS LE VIT BIEN U NINH

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Texte IV du V.B.U.L.T., ms. A. 47.

BEFEO, ZLIT S.

m
m

451

452

MAURICE DURAND

choisit Pht-T> pour le diriger. Il leva des troupes, descendit vers l'est, eombattit
le roi Triu Thai-binh^. Ses troupes ayant t battues, Ph^t-T demanda la
paix. Triu-vu'O'ng ne fut pas impitoyable. Il partagea alors le territoire en fixant
la frontire 111e Qun-thanW et rsida dans la citadelle de -duyn*1). Pht-T>
demanda ensuite en mariage pour son fils Nh-lang, Co-n'U'ong, la fille de Trieuvu'cng. Trieu-vu>o>ng y consentit et son gendre habita chez lui. Nh-lang dupa Conu'O>ng, droba la griffe du dragon et la remplaa. Il retourna chez lui et projeta
avec son pre d'attaquer l'improviste le roi Triu. Le roi Trieu, ne se doutant de
rien, mit en hte son casque pour l'attendre. Mais Pht-T continua d'avancer. Le
roi Trieu emmenant alors sa fille s'enfuit vers le sud. Arriv la cte, l'embouchure
du >ai-nha(3), il dit en soupirant : Je suis bout!. Sur ce, il se prcipita dans la
mer. Ph$t-T>, aprs avoir vaincu Trieu, transfra sa capitale Phong-chu. Il
envoya f>ai-Quyn, le fils de son frre an, occuper Long-bien, et son gnral
adjoint L-Pho-Hnh occuper -duyn. Les Souei envoyrent Lieou Fang (Lu'UPhu>o>ng) l'attaquer. Les troupes de ce gnral franchirent le col de B-long<4) et
arrivrent au pied de la citadelle. Le gnral admonesta Ph$t-T> sur les circonstances
de sa rsistance et Pht-T> fit sa soumission. Il rgna trente et une annes et mourut.
Par la suite, les gens du pays lui levrent un temple l'embouchure du Tieunha W et l'adorrent comme Gnie du Bonheur. Sous les Trn, en la premire anne
de la priode Trung-hu>ng, un dcret imprial lui dcerna le titre auguste
Empereur, Illustre Hros. La quatrime anne, on y ajouta les deux caractres : Humain
et Pieux. La vingt et unime anne de la priode Hung-long, on y ajouta les quatre
caractres Khm-Minh-Thanh-V (Royal-clat-Saint^Guerrier).
W Tous ces noms ont fait l'objet d'un commentaire dans mon texte d'introduction.
(*) D'aprs le commentaire du B.V.S.K.T.T., serait les deux hameaux de Thuwng-ct et
-ct de la sous-prfecture de T-lim dans la province de H-dng.
(*) Est localis traditionnellement dans le huyn de Bai-an, province de Nam-rinh, au village
de Bc-b . Bai-nha hi khu J Jf| p s'est appel Bai-achi-khu j ^ p ;
L Thai-tng changea ce nom en Bai-an hi khu -fc * p lors de son expdition de to
contre le Champa (Maspero, Le Protectorat gnrai d'Annam sout let Tang, in BEFEO, X. X,
P- (4)
677)L'orthographe Tou-long ff
^ fc (Bo-long)
.
surtout prcise par le mot t passe, Ling ,
nous reporte la troisime passe des Cinq Passes j ^*U(lies par Aurousseau dans La
Premire Conqute chinoise..., in BEFEO, t. XXIII, p. 17-18, et signal par Chavannes comme
Tune des Neuf Passes j^ ^ de&s Les deux plus ancien* spciment de la cartographie chinoise,m BEFEO,
i. III, p. a a g. Ici encore certaines traditions corrigent en fpg \ (Maspero, t. XVI, p. a 5, n. 1). Le
texte du D.V.S.K.T.T. donne l'orthographe %$ >g. Notre texte donne ff .
<*) Est localis non loin de Bai-nha.

L T Xuyn

Departed Spirits of the Vit Realm

Translated by Brian E. Ostrowski and Brian A. Zottoli


With an Introduction and Pedagogical Notes by Keith Weller
Taylor

Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction

iii

Translators Notes ....... vi


Departed Spirits of the Vit Realm .....

Preface .... 2
Sovereigns:
S Nhip .....
Phng H,ng
Triu Quang Phc and L Pht T ....
The God of Agriculture .....
The Tr,ng Sisters ..
M ......

5
11
15
21
22
24

Ministers:
L Hong ..
L ng Trng ....
L Th,ng Kit .....
T Lch ..
Phm C L,ng
L Phng Hiu ..
Mc Thn ..
The Tr,ng Brothers .....
L Phc Man .........
Commander-in-Chief L .......
Cao L ...

28
32
34
37
40
43
47
49
52
55
57

Spirits from Nature:


The Lady God of the Earth ....
The Spirit of Mount ng C ....
The Spirit of Long ...
The Spirit of Khai Nguyn ....
The Spirit of Ph ng ......
The Mountain Spirit and the Water Spirit .....
The Local Earth Spirit of ng Province ..
The Chief Earth Magistrate and the Rock Noble ..
The Benevolent Deity of the Kingdom-Protecting Shrine .....
The Fire Dragon Spirit Lord ......

61
64
66
69
71
75
78
81
84
86

Slide Images .... 88


Suggestions for Further Reading ..... 93
Pinyin Equivalents ......

ii

95

INTRODUCTION

When, in the 1280s, the Mongol-Yuan dynasty endeavored to subdue the people in the
territories of what is now northern Vietnam, they were twice forced to withdraw in failure.
One of the reasons why local rulers believed they had survived the invasions was that they
had been assisted by the supernatural powers of spirits dwelling in their land, The Realm of
Vit. So, when the time for passing out rewards came, after the battles were over, the royal
court bestowed honorific titles upon the spirits believed to have been most efficacious
against the foe; there were twenty-seven such spirits or spirit pairs, and, for the next forty
years, these twenty-seven spirits continued to receive acknowledgment as being in a
guardian relation with the reigning line of kings.
In 1329, a bookish member of the royal entourage, named L T Xuyn, compiled
biographies for the twenty-seven spirits, which are in fact thirty spirits, six being paired
spirits. He organized them into three categories: sovereigns, ministers, and spirits from
nature. The sovereigns were five men and three women who were believed to have lived in
the past and to have reigned as kings or queens. The ministers were twelve men who were
believed to have lived in the past and to have served their sovereigns with particular loyalty.
These twenty people were understood as having acted with remarkable virtue during their
lifetimes, and, consequently, after their deaths, they were assigned by Heaven to remain on
duty to protect living people from calamity. The ten spirits in the third category were
comprised of seven earth spirits, two mountain spirits, and one water spirit; these spirits
appear in stories that associate them with rulers and events in the past.
As his preface makes clear, L T Xuyn compiled information about these spirits from
writings and stories available to him. His purpose was to document the events in which the
supernatural powers of these spirits were believed to have been manifested. He wrote his
compilation in the universal language of civilized writing for his time and place, what we
now usually refer to as classical Chinese, although this was no less a classical language for

iii

the Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese than it was for the Chinese. Thus, it was meant to be
read and used by educated people.
During the nearly seven hundred years that have passed since L T Xuyns time, this
compilation has survived through a process of hand copying. There remain in existence at
least nine known manuscripts of this text, none of them dating before the nineteenth century,
each with its own characteristics representing a particular series of copying episodes with
additions, deletions, revisions, confusions, and editorial intent. The translators here have
chosen to work from the manuscript that has become most popular among twentieth-century
Vietnamese, apparently because it is thought to be most complete, meaning that the stories
it contains are fully elaborated in comparison with more concise or abbreviated manuscripts,
and it is not excessively full of tales added by later generations as some manuscripts are.
This text documents the rise of twenty-seven spirit cults. These cults focus upon shrines or
temples at which are worshipped spirits believed to be both powerful and benevolent. This
mode of religious practice is based on the idea that only such spirits can provide protection
from the host of demons and malevolent spirits that plague human life. An assembly of
good sprits, such as is displayed in this text, was imagined to produce a supernatural shield
against disaster for the region.
The temporal outlook of the material in this compilation belongs mainly to the tenth and
eleventh centuries, when local kings first began to appear in The Realm of Vit, after
several centuries during which the rulers were governors appointed by dynastic courts in the
north. Several kings from that time appear in this text because they patronized spirit cults or
because people who lived during their reigns became the objects of spirit cults.
The spatial orientation of this material is H Ni and the lowlands surrounding H Ni,
where the kings ruled. For spirits who came from areas outside of this center of royal
authority, kings typically built temples at H Ni, not only to facilitate worship, but also to
indicate their personal relations with the spirits.

iv

The tales in this compilation reflect a certain erudite view from a particular time and place;
they do not comprise an enduring definition of a culture. They are of possible interest to us
today for both historical and literary reasons, which is to say for the information about
human thought and behavior and for forms of writing with which they are plotted, both of
which lead us toward a universal category of human experience rather than toward a national
category of Vietnamese culture. They should appropriately be taught as old tales rather
than as stories embodying definitive characteristics of Vietnamese culture.
I have written an introduction to each story with suggestions for classroom use.

K. W. Taylor
August, 1999

Translators Notes
Our translation is based on manuscript number A.751 housed at the Institute of Hn-Nm
Research in H Ni. Entitled Vit in U Linh Tp Lc Ton Bin (The Complete
Compilation of the Collected Writings about the Departed Spirits of the Vit Realm), it is
one of at least nine surviving manuscripts of the compilation of spirit tales attributed to the
fourteenth-century scholar L T Xuyn. While, dating from the early twentieth century, it
is certainly not the oldest of the available recensions, it is one of the most widely read and
referenced. Modern Vietnamese language editions based primarily on A.751 by Vietnamese
scholars including L Hu Mc (1961), inh Gia Khnh (1972), and Ngc H (1974) have
received widespread scholarly attention; we hope to follow their example by making these
stories available in English.
We have excluded those parts of the A.751 manuscript that are not attributed to L T
Xuyn. Omitted passages include introductions to the tales, commentaries by later editors,
and further tales added after the fourteenth century. We have attempted to retain the style of
the A.751 manuscript while rendering the text in a way that is easily accessible to the
general reader. Where dictated by English grammar and prose logic, we have inserted
implied subjects and objects, avoided double negatives, and simplified certain repetitive
statements. Punctuation has been modified to fit English literary sensibilities, and paragraph
breaks have been added. For ease of typesetting and reading, we have tried to avoid
excessive use of Chinese characters. Where proper names occur, we have given the SinoVietnamese pronunciation in place of pinyin. For those readers more familiar with Chinese
pronunciation, a table of pinyin equivalents is provided for reference.
Some confusion may arise over the use of the word King. Nearly all of the subjects of
these tales were honored with the Sino-Vietnamese honorific title V,ng (Chinese Wang),
which may indicate a king, a prince, or some other person of great merit. It should be
stressed that few of the deities whose stories are recorded in this text can be considered
historical kings or supreme political rulers as we normally think of them. Instead, the term
V,ng here conveys a sense of respect and awe for a figure that has demonstrated
extraordinary abilities both during earthly life and after death. The term V,ng appears as a
subject marker so frequently in these tales that to replace it with an English pronoun such as
he would diminish the sense of reverence expressed for the deity. Therefore, we have
chosen to simply translate it as King.
This project would not have been possible without the generous advice and support of our
teachers. We would like to express our gratitude to Professors K. W. Taylor of Cornell
University, John K. Whitmore of the University of Michigan, and Trn th Bng Thanh of the
H Ni Institute of Literature for helping us to grasp the often elusive meanings of
the text. We are certain, however, that as newcomers to the field of Sino-Vietnamese
literature we have overlooked many errors that are entirely our own responsibility. We hope
that interested teachers and colleagues will enlighten us as to the faults of this translation and
how it can be improved.

vi

Departed Spirits of the Vit Realm

Compiled by Keeper of the Tripitaka, Middle-Rank Attendant L T Xuyn.

Preface
The sages of yore said, Intelligence and upright conduct are necessary to be called a deity;
obscene spirits, evil divinities, and demons cannot arbitrarily be so called.
In our land of Vit, temples and shrines for the worship of deities were in ages past numerous.
But have there ever been many to manifest signs of greatness and to secretly assist the living?
Indeed, heretofore the deities have been of unequal sorts: Some have been the spiritual essences
of mountains and streams, others powerful and divine figures. Their vitality and influence
jumped to life in their own times, and prominent was their heroism and divinity in successive
ages. If the truth is not recorded, then red and violet are difficult to distinguish. Therefore,
relying on rustic and inferior senses, I have applied brush and parchment to the secret genus. If it
could be that dignified gentlemen, broad in learning and of good deeds, will make corrections to
this, such is my hope.
In the time of:
The first year of the imperial reign of Khai Hu [1329], Keeper of the Tripitaka, Chief Secretary,
Middle-Rank Attendant, Transport Officer of An Tim Circuit, the subject L T Xuyn bows his
head and, burning incense, respectfully prefaces these tales.

The Complete Compilation of the Collected Writings about the


Departed Spirits of the Vit Realm

SOVEREIGNS

S Nhip
S Nhip [137-226] was born in what is today the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.
His ancestors had immigrated there from northeastern China (Shandong Province) more than a
century before his birth. In his youth he went north to study at the Han dynasty capital and
entered imperial service. Eventually he was assigned to govern what is today northern Vietnam.
He ruled there for about forty years, until his death. This was during the time that the Han
dynasty [206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.] was collapsing and the so-called Three Kingdoms [220-265]
were arising in its place, one of which was Ng (Wu) based in the lower Yangtze River basin. He
was virtually a regional king during much of this time. He has been remembered as an astute
ruler who enforced peaceful conditions and fostered an era of prosperity. The reference to H
people burning incense in his entourage is commonly understood as pertaining to religious
figures from the Indian subcontinent, for information survives about Buddhists from India at his
capital, and the beginning of Buddhism among Vietnamese speakers is thought to date from this
time. Refugee scholars from the north who took temporary refuge with S Nhip brought
Confucian and Daoist ideas into the local cultural lexicon. Modern scholars tend to view the era
of S Nhip as a time when the people in what is now northern Vietnam experienced important
cultural, economic, and political changes related to new religions and ideologies, international
trade, and the fall of the Han dynasty.
The biography of S Nhip in this text is in two parts. The first part comes from his
official biography compiled by imperial historians within a century or so of his death, which
survives in the History of the Three Kingdoms, one of the standard dynastic historical works of
what is now generally called Chinese history. This part is embedded in the conventions and
details of Chinese dynastic historiography and contains cliched allusions to famous
administrators in the past (such as u Dung and Commissioner ). The second part comes
from a work compiled in what is now northern Vietnam entitled Records Declaring the Ultimate,
which cannot be dated prior to the eleventh century and now survives only in citations found in
other texts. There are two stories here that portray S Nhip as a Daoist immortal. One, from
the fifth century, is about his frightening off grave robbers who broke into his tomb. Another,
from the ninth century, is about his appearing to Cao Bin (Gao Pian), a ,ng (Tang) dynasty
general who expelled invaders from the region in the 860s, who had a reputation as a sorcerer
and a Daoist adept, and who figures in many stories about local spirits. These stories are in a
more anecdotal style. The second one contains a poem attributed to Cao Bin written to
commemorate his encounter with S Nhip.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Compare and contrast the two ways of remembering S Nhip in the two parts of the
biography: the official imperial biography that emphasizes S Nhip's administrative prowess,
ability to govern, success in establishing good relations with the shifting dynastic powers in the
north, skill in maintaining peace and prosperity in his jurisdiction, and longevity (an indication
of moral rectitude); the tales from the later text that emphasize magical events associated with S
Nhip after his death and a more popular remembrance of him as a local deity.

2. Consider now that the northern source, History of the Three Kingdoms, contains a
commentary omitted in the present text. This commentary, based on a northern Daoist work,
records that after his death, S Nhip was brought back to life by a Daoist immortal. How does
this information help us to evaluate the cultural and ideological effect of northern rule in the Red
River Delta when we read the details of the Records Declaring the Ultimate about S Nhip?
Can we see the Red River Delta in the first millennium C.E. as simply a battleground between
Chinese Confucianism and indigenous spiritual eclecticism?
3. Why and how do prominent historical figures become deified (or made "larger than life")? Is
there any kind of analogy to how Americans are taught to remember George Washington and
Abraham Lincoln?

Excellently Responsive, Virtuously Compassionate, Divinely Militant Great King


According to the History of the Three Kingdoms, the King1 was of the S line and was named
Nhip. He was a man from Th,ng Ng in Qung Tn. His ancestors were people from Vn
D,ng in the state of L. In King M ngs2 rebellion [8 C.E.], they fled here. After six
generations, at the time of Hn Hon [147-168], the Kings father, named T, served as the
grand protector of Nht Nam.
When he was young, the King went abroad to study at the capital. He became proficient in the
T clan commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals3 and was elected a Candidate of Probity
and Piety and appointed Gentleman Master of Writing. On account of official reasons, he was
dismissed from the mandarinate.
When the period of mourning for his father was finished, he was elected a Candidate of
Accomplished Talent and made magistrate of Chnh D,ng. In the time of Hn Hin [190220], he was transferred to be grand protector of our Giao province. At that time, Tr,ng Tn
was serving as the provincial governor.
Near the end of the Hn dynasty, three great powers faced off against one another. The King
ruled the two towns of Luy Lu and Qung Tn. Later, Tn was killed by the rebel leader Khu
1

See the Translators Notes for an explanation of the use of the word King in this text.
Ch. Wang Mang (8-23 C.E.).
3
That is, the T Truyn (Ch. Zuo Zhuan), a text included in early classical curricula.

Cnh. L,u Biu of Kinh province sent Li Cung of Linh Lng to replace him as governor of our
Giao province. Hn Hin heard of this and invested the King with an imperial seal and a
letter that read, Giao province is an isolated place; refined influence must travel very far to be
bestowed. Its mountains and rivers are under the Dc and Chn stars, such as has been allotted in
the heavenly book. Its mountains and streams truly give it a beautiful landscape. From south to
north there are many obstacles, and the way is very long.

Favor from above cannot be

transmitted, and righteousness from below is blocked. The stupid rebels who have dared to take
military power, not fearing to use cruel strength, are scheming to put their luck to the test.
Moreover, the rebel L,u Biu has sent Li Cung to pry about the southern lands. Now with that
sort of people who take it upon themselves to do violence and to throw their lives away,
unilaterally usurping authority to be lenient and severe in turns, paper cannot adequately record
such a state of wrongdoing.

You are now specially appointed to serve as General of the

Gentlemen of the Household Who Comforts the South, commanding troops from seven districts
while retaining the position of grand protector of Giao province. In sum, all is prepared to
facilitate your work in creating peace, driving out bandits, and keeping thieves quelled and the
people at peace. Make clean the poisonous and filthy dust, and spread favor and good fortune
widely. All matters internal and external are delegated to you. Now oversee devout offerings,4
and do not disobey my will.
The King then sent Tr,ng Mn to offer tribute at the Hn capital. At that time, there was war,
and all under heaven had fallen into disorder. The way was long, and to go and return was
arduous; yet the King did not neglect to announce his appointments and offer tribute, reverently
keeping the standards of a vassal. The Hn emperor again issued a proclamation of praise and
encouragement. The proclamation said, Giao province is a civilized land, its mountains and
streams nurturing precious rarities. Literary works can be seen, and there are men of talent and
eminence. For many years it has endured arrows and stones,5 and heretofore has been without
anyone of the talent to serve as a prefect. Because your distant region has not yet received
refined influence, you are specially assigned a rustic district to take an important position, having
the ability to obey the call to restrict its behavior; may you oversee the people with benevolence
and kindness, and not fail as a pillar of the empire. You are further appointed General Who

4
5

A reference to the tributary relationship S Nhip was expected to keep with the Chinese court.
A literary reference to war.

Brings Tranquility to the Far Reaches, and granted the title Marquis of the Commune of Long
.
Thereafter, the grand protector of Th,ng Ng, Ng C, took a dislike to Cung and mobilized an
army to run him out. Cung fled in defeat back to Linh Lng. At that time, Ng Tn Quyn [222252] sent B Cht to serve as governor of our Giao province. When Cht arrived, the King led
his older and younger brothers in attending to the quarterly returns of revenue. The Ng king
promoted the King to the position of General on the Left, and the Kings three sons were all
made Generals of the Gentlemen of the Household. The King sent them to live as hostages in
Ng. He then instructed the Ung Khi family of Qch province to bring their people to Ng. The
Ng admired him even more, and made him General of the Guards, investing him as Marquis of
Long Bin and First Deputy General.
Whenever the King sent emissaries to Ng, he sent assorted incense and fine cloth, always
numbering in the thousands. There were also rarities like shining gems, sea turtles, precious
pearls, kingfishers, and elephant tusks, as well as different sorts of strange flowers and grasses,
bananas, coconuts, and longan. There was no year in which they did not come. Once, hundreds
of horses were brought as tribute.

The Ng at once amply bestowed gifts upon him to

recompense and soothe him. His three younger brothers were given official positions. Nht took
the position of grand protector of Hp Ph; V took the position of grand protector of Cu Chn;
and V took the position of grand protector of Nam Hi.
The King was of a generous manner and modest before subordinate scholars. Of the learned Hn
people who fled to avoid the disorder, most followed him. The people of the province all
proclaimed him King. At that time, Trn Quc Huy sent a letter to the Prefect of the Masters of
Writing, Tun Hc, the gist of which read, The scholar-official of Giao province is extremely
well-studied, and is also proficient in government service. With the land in the midst of great
disorder, he protected the entire region. For over twenty years, the borders have been without
struggle, and the people have not lost a harvest. Travelers going long distances by foot all receive
his blessings. How was u Dungs protection of H Ty any better than this? The Kings
younger brothers all worked in various districts.

The dominating head of a province, ten

thousand miles all to himself, his majesty and honor were unsurpassed. When he entered or
8

exited, bells and gongs sounded. Prepared with full decorum, whistles and pan-pipes were blown
and drums beaten. Chariots packed the way as H people pressed near his wheel-hubs, burning
incense. There were always scores of wives and concubines in curtained carriages. His disciples
followed mounted soldiers. In his day, his respect and majesty shook the earth for ten thousand
miles. Commissioner 6 could not surpass this. He died at the age of ninety, and was in the
province for 48 years.
According to the Records Declaring the Ultimate, King S was skilled at Daoist magic. From the
time of his burial to the end of the Tn dynasty, more than one hundred sixty years passed.
When people from Lm-p7 entered to pillage, they unearthed his grave to see that his body had
not decayed, and that his features were as when he was alive. They were terrified, and so they
reburied him. The local people have passed down this story and made him a deity. They built
him a temple, calling him King S the Immortal. In the time of ,ng Hm Thng [860-874],
Cao Bin destroyed the Nam Chiu.

When he reached this place, he encountered an

extraordinary figure. His face showed pleasure. He was dressed in the colorful feather robe of a
mountain immortal. He stopped Bin on the way and greeted him. Bin was content with this
and invited him inside the curtain, where they talked only of matters of the Three Kingdoms
period. When they exited to say farewell, the extraordinary figure suddenly vanished. Bin was
taken aback and inquired about this. The villagers pointed to King Ss grave in response. Bin
sighed in pity but caught himself as he intoned,
Since the dawn of Ngy,
It has been five hundred years.
In the eighth year of ,ng Hm Thng [867],
Auspicious it is to encounter King S the Immortal.
Each time the villagers pray, their wishes are always fulfilled. To this day, he serves as a
benevolent deity. In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointmented Excellently
Responsive Great King. In the fourth year [1288], the words Virtusously Compassionate were
6

Triu (Ch. Zhao Tuo), a northern ruler from around Canton who held political sway in the Red River Delta in
the early second century B.C.E., styling himself King of Nan Yueh or King of Nam Vit. See K. W. Taylor, The
Birth of Vietnam Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 23-27.
7
An old toponym referring to the Chamic areas south of Vietnam.

added. In the twentieth year of H,ng Long [1312], the words Divinely Militant were added
because he had merit in giving secret assistance, and many villagers received blessings.

10

Phng H, ng
Phng H,ng (d. 789) was from a ruling clan among upland people who lived along the
southwestern edge of the Hng River plain of what is now northern Vietnam. In the eighth
century, this region was part of the Protectorate of An Nam under the ,ng (Tang) Empire. In
the mid-eighth century, the empire suffered several decades of rebellion and civil war, during
which soldiers were withdrawn from the Protectorate of An Nam to fight in the north.
Subsequently, local heroes began to contend with imperial officers for dominance. Phng H,ng
eventually prevailed over all other contenders and seized the headquarters of the protectorate
from the Protector General. When he died, his brother and his son struggled for supremacy.
Eventually, when order was restored in the empire, soldiers from the north arrived under the
command of a new Protector General, Triu X,ng (Zhao Chang), called King Triu in the text,
who became popular among local people and wrote a book, Records of Giao Province, which is
cited by our text for information about Phng H,ng's biography.
The biographical part of the text is followed by an account of how Phng H,ng became
the object of worship after supernatural appearances were attributed to him, and of how Ng
Quyn (d. 944), called "First Lord Ng" in the text, believed that Phng H,ng assisted him at the
Battle of Bch ng (939), in which Ng Quyn defeated an invading army from the north and
after which he proclaimed himself king. Ng Quyn was a local hero who came from the same
locality as Phng H,ng.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. How did the Phng brothers (H,ng and H i) start their careers as warlords? What do these
qualities suggest about the political and cultural environment?
2. The struggle between Phng H i and Phng An after Phng H,ng's death can be viewed as
conflict between brother-to-brother succession and patriarchal primogeniture (father-to-son
succession). Brother-to-brother succession was characteristic of many early societies that
emphasized generational solidarity in contrast to more hierarchical systems that were designed
to insure the ascendancy of one man's bloodline. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of
inheritance by younger siblings before passing on to the eldest member of the next generation.

The Great Father-and-Mother King


According to the Records of Giao Province of King Triu,8 the King was of the Phng line and
was named H,ng. For generations, his ancestors had passed down the tribal chieftainship of the
Bin Kh barbarians of ,ng Lm province. They were called quan lang.9 A well-propertied
8

Triu X,ng (Ch. Zhao Chang), who oversaw Giao province from 791 to 806.
The title lang given to Phng H,ng in this story resembles a term that denoted aristocratic members of the M,ng,
now a minority people in Vietnam, well into the twentieth century.
9

11

family, they were powerful in their sphere. H,ng was of extreme strength and courage, able to
fight tigers and push buffalo. His younger brother, called H i, was also of great strength, able to
carry thirteen thousand pounds of stones or a small ten thousand-peck boat for over ten miles.
The Di and Lo all feared their names.
In the ,ng i Lch era [766-780], because our army of An Nam was in turmoil, the brothers
went together to patrol the neighboring regions. These all fell to them, and wherever they went,
there were none who did not scatter. H,ng was satisfied and changed his name to C L o; H i
changed his name to C Lc. H,ng took the title of Metropolitan Lord; H i took the title of
Metropolitan Guardian. Using the strategy of Anh Lun of ,ng Lm, they used troops to
patrol the provinces of ,ng Lm and Tr,ng Phong. The people all followed them. Their
power and reputation resounded powerfully.
They released word of their desire to plot against the regional headquarters. At that time,
Protector General Cao Chnh Bnh brought troops to attack them, but he could not beat them.
Melancholic and exasperated, he fell ill with a stomach ulcer and died. H,ng entered the
regional headquarters, overseeing affairs seven years before dying. The crowds wanted to install
H i. But the assistant chieftain, B Ph Cn, who was strong enough to clear away mountains
and lift up cauldrons, and whose courage and power were excellent, refused to accede and
proceeded to install H,ngs son, An, leading a mob against H i. H i fled from B Ph Cn,
moving to Chu Nham cave. It is not known what happened to him afterwards. An honored H,ng
as the B Ci Great King. For it is custom in the realm to call the father b and call the mother
ci. For this reason, his name was given like this.10
An continued to rule for two years before Emperor ,ng c Tng [780-805] appointed Triu
X,ng to serve as An Nam Protector General. X,ng entered the scene, sending an envoy with
gifts in advance to instruct An. An duly set out the ceremonial guard and a crowd to meet them
in surrender. The people of the Phng line were thus dispersed.
10

K.W. Taylor has advanced the hypothesis that this interpretation of the title B Ci i V,ng as Great Fatherand-Mother King failed to explain the original meaning of the title. According to this hypothesis, B should
instead be read as Vua (king), and Ci should be read with the old meaning of great. The effect of the title
would thus be to repeat the phrase Great King using both Vietnamese and Chinese terms and word order. See
K.W. Taylor, Phng H,ng: Mencian King or Austric Paramount? Vietnam Forum 8 (summer-fall 1986), pp. 2659.

12

Soon after H,ng died, his abilities were divinely manifested. He often appeared among the
villagers. A thousand chariots and ten thousand horses flew up above the houses and amidst the
trees. People in the crowds looked up to see something obscure like clouds forming the five
colors of light. The sounds of strings and woodwinds carried far and echoed in the sky. Then
there was a sound of shouts and cries, and flags and drums were seen in the distance. A fendered
palanquin dazzled the eyes. All of these things in the distance were clear to see. Whenever the
region had fearful or joyous matters at hand, in the middle of the night the village notables would
first see a supernatural figure announcing the tidings. This figure was made a deity by the
crowds.
To the west of the regional headquarters, a shrine was built for worship. Prayers for clear skies
and for rain were always divinely answered. Whenever there was suspicion over matters of theft
or dispute, ceremonial items were brought before the temple to request an audience and oaths
were sworn there. Immediately, ill fortune or blessings were observed. Sellers offered gifts and
prayed for large profits, and they were all answered. On every day of thanksgiving to the spirits,
people gathered in great numbers and wheel tracks and footprints covered the roads. The
appearance of the shrine was magnificent, and the incense has never been extinguished.
When First Lord Ng11 founded the county, the northern army came in to pillage. The First Lord
was distraught at this, and in the middle of the night he was dreaming when he suddenly saw an
old gray-haired man in imposing, formal dress carrying a feather fan and bamboo cane. He
declared his name and said, I have sent ten thousand regiments of spirit soldiers to strategic
places, where they are ready to lie in ambush. May Your Lord hasten to advance troops to
oppose the enemy. You will have secret assistance, and need not allow yourself to worry.
Then, at the victory at Bch ng [939], there indeed was witnessed the sound of chariots and
horses in the sky, and the battle was in fact a great victory. The First Lord was taken aback, and
ordered the construction of a great temple, larger than on the former model. He supplied feather
screens, royal banners, bronze gongs, deerskin drums, dancing and singing, and sacrificial oxen
in show of gratitude. As things have changed over the successive royal reigns, this has gradually
become an old ceremony.

13

In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Believing and Assisting Great King. In
the fourth year [1288], the words Manifesting Sincerity were added. In the twentieth year of
H,ng Long [1312], the words Revering Righteousness were added. To this day, his majesty is
strongly increasing. The incense is not extinguished.

11

Ng Quyn [939-944], in modern Vietnamese historiography often considered the founder of the independent
Vietnamese state. See Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, pp. 267-71.

14

Triu Quang Phc and L Pht T


Triu Quang Phc and L Pht T were two local heroes who in the sixth century
contended for supremacy in what is now northern Vietnam. They began as followers of L Bn,
a provincial military leader who rebelled against the empire and proclaimed himself a king in
the 540s. When L Bn was killed after several battles with northern soldiers, Triu Quang Phc
continued resistance in the plains with the help of a magic talisman while L Pht T eventually
became the leader of L Bns followers who had fled into the mountains. When the struggle
between the two heroes reached stalemate, they arranged a truce and sealed it with a marriage
alliance. The ensuing tale of romance, treachery and betrayal, involving possession of the magic
talisman and a tragic love, is virtually identical to a legend applied by earlier texts to local
events in the second century B.C.E., the apparent purpose of which is to explain the shift of
ascendancy from one hero to another. During this time, dynasties in the north were too weak to
dominate the region, which is the background for the rise of local heroes like these.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Northern dynastic records chronicle L Bn's rebellious career because the man who
defeated L Bn, Trn B Tin (Chen Boxian), is a famous figure in northern history who went
on to found his own, albeit short-lived, dynasty. However, for half a century after Trn B Tin's
departure from the province, northern chroniclers reveal virtually no information about the
region of what is now northern Vietnam. The stories about Triu Quang Phc and L Pht T
appear to arise from a local remembrance of contention between warlords at that time. While
L Pht T's power could be explained in terms of his kinsman L Bn's entourage, Triu Quang
Phc's power required some supernatural explanation; why? Is his profile closer to the
conventional military leader or to a bandit chieftain who strikes from ambush? Which of the two
became the object of worship and why?
2. The sad tale of Nh Lang and Co N,ng's ill-fated love suggests that personal feelings must
give way to the mechanical demands of power by possession of a magical talisman. Since the
plot of this tale is the same as an older legend explaining a similar political situation, it must
exemplify a pattern of thought that was significant for several generations. What might that
pattern of thought be? What is revealed by Nh Lang's impossible role as a loyal son and a
loving husband? Later scholars, ideologically oriented toward patriarchy, have criticized the
story because the groom goes to live with his bride's family, but there are many indications that
this practice was common in earlier centuries.

Vit King Triu and Southern Emperor L


The Vit King was of the Triu line and was named Quang Phc. The Southern Emperor was of
the L line and was named Pht T. During the time of L,ng V [502-550], in Thi Bnh
sub-prefecture of our Giao province, they were both lower generals of the former Southern
15

Emperor L, L Bn. L Bns ancestors had long been people of influence. His abilities
surpassed those of men, and he was always as ambitious as Tiu and To.12 Then there was Tinh
Thiu, a man of eloquence and literary skill who took the civil examinations and requested an
official position. L,ng President of the Board of Appointments Si Tn considered that while
the Tinh line had not formerly produced any worthy men, this man was of palatable demeanor,
and so assigned him secretary of the Qung D,ng gate. Thiu was humiliated by this, and
together with Bn returned to his former district.
Because Governor V Lm Marquis Tiu T, was extremely cruel, and his administration had
largely caused the masses to lose heart, they secretly plotted a revolt. At that time, Bn was
overseeing Cu c province. He united the heroes of nine sub-prefectures, with weapons and
picked trained soldiers, mobilized them all, and struck at the governor. Tiu T, fled back to
Qung province. Bn attacked and occupied the provincial town. When Lm-p invaded Nht
Nam, Bn ordered his general, Phm Tu, to strike them in Cu c. With his great victory, the
thieving enemy completely dispersed.
Bn then took the title of Vit King. He appointed a hundred officials, changed the era name to
Thin c, and named the country Vn Xun. The L,ng emperor heard of this, and sent the
governor of Qung province, Trn B Tin, to serve as governor of Giao province. Hearing that
Bn had taken the title of King, he led the army against Bn. Bn fought unsuccessfully and led
the army in retreat to Khut Lo cave, where he took ill and died. From the time he took his title
that is, in the seventh year of L,ng i ng [541] until the second year of L,ng Thi
Thanh [548], eight years passed.
Triu Quang Phc was originally a man from Chu Din who served as Bns General on the Left.
This land of Chu Din had a great marsh of perimeter and depth that could not be reckoned in
miles. After Bn died, Quang Phc gathered his dispersed troops. Twenty thousand men were to
be had, and he issued orders and controlled them. They lay in hiding in the marsh by day and by
night they stole from the military encampments. B Tin sent someone to spy on them, and it
was known that this was all the work of Quang Phc. Troops were sent to attack him, but in the
end they were unable to do anything. The crowds praised him as the Night Marsh King.
12

Two early and influential supporters of the rise of the Han dynasty.

16

Quang Phc resided in the marsh for one year. One night, a golden-colored dragon was seen
removing one of its talons and giving it to Quang Phc. The dragon announced, Take this and
fasten it atop your battle helmet. When the thieving enemies see it, they will naturally submit in
fear.
B Tin was ordered to return to the north on the occasion of a crisis at Kin Khang.13 He left
behind his general, D,ng Sn, to hold the town and carry out his duties in replacement. After
receiving the magical talon, Quang Phc plotted and planned exceptionally well. Whenever he
fought, he won. Then when B Tin went to the north, he led a mob to attack Sn. Sn counterattacked, but once he saw the battle helmet he immediately lost the battle and died.
Quang Phc entered the town of Long Bin and ruled the two regions of Lc Loa and V Ninh.
He took the title of King of Nam Vit.
Pht T was Bns younger cousin. When Bn had died, Pht T followed Bns elder brother,
Thin Bo, in bringing a crowd of thirty thousand to flee up to the Di and Lo. B Tin offered a
reward for their capture, but to no avail.
Thin Bo reached D Nng cave at the head of the Thao River. Seeing that this land was a
beautiful place of repute, that the local produce was plentiful, and that the earth was fertile and
expansive, he built a town there in which to live. The people grew in number and gathered
together, growing in intellect by the day. This became the kingdom of D Nng. The crowds all
proclaimed Thin Bo the o Lang King. Not long thereafter, he died without an heir. The
crowds all discussed the matter and proclaimed Pht T as King.
When it was heard that B Tin had returned north, Pht T led his troops down to the east. His
advisors enocuraged Pht T to take the title of Emperor. Pht T consented to this, and so
called himself the Southern Emperor. He battled with the Vit King at Thi Bnh, five battles in
all. Weapons of war came and went in confusion, and swords and stones travelled swiftly, but
victory and defeat were not yet decided.
13

An ancient name for Nanjing.

17

The Southern Emperors troops were few; knowing the Vit King had supernatural powers, he
requested a truce. The Vit King also considered that the Southern Emperor belonged to Bns
line, and so divided the country with the border at Qun Thn province for joint rule. The
Southern Emperor occupied Din and bade his son, Nh Lang, to request a marriage from the
Vit King. The Vit King selected his daughter Co N,ng to marry him. Their affection
became close, and the lutes were in tune.14
Nh Lang questioned Co N,ng, Two kingdoms were once enemies; now, they have made a
marriage. The will of heaven has brought us together. Our lot in life is strange. In former years,
when the two kingdoms struggled with one another, your royal fathers strategy and magic
surpassed that of a subordinate to my royal father. I do not understand what magical power has
resulted in this extraordinary plot. Co N,ng was bound to the world of women of needle and
thread, so how could she comprehend the vicissitudes and ways of the world? She picked up the
Vit Kings dragon talon-adorned battle helmet and showed it to Nh Lang, telling him all about
it. She said, My father has been able to defeat his enemies because he has kept this.
Nh Lang secretly plotted to switch the talon for a fake. Then he said to Co N,ng, I have
long been a royal son-in-law, and I worry fiercely about my parents. I could never get so
attached to private feelings of lying-mats that I abandon the task of daily attentive care to my
parents. I mean that I want to return for a time to see that they are all right; then my greatest vow
can be trusted. Nevertheless, the way is far and the travel is difficult. One cannot set out in the
morning and arrive by evening. There is much separation, and little togetherness. There is
nothing like this sadness and regret. Once Ive returned to my kingdom, if you meet with any
troubles, follow the kings entourage wherever they go. Leave goose feathers along the way to
help me find you.
Nh Lang returned to explain all these matters with the Southern Emperor. The Southern
Emperor was delighted, and immediately led his troops straight into the Vit territory. It was like
walking in a deserted land. The Vit King was unaware of what had happened before. He took
out the battle helmet to fight back and waited. But the Southern Emperor had stripped away the
14

That is, there was conjugal harmony.

18

magical device, and the troops could find no resolve. The Vit King knew he could not resist, so
he took his daughter by the hand and ran to the south, hoping to choose a well-hidden, easilydefended place to which to escape. The enemy troops were right on their heels. When they
arrived at a provincial town to rest and catch their breath, the Vit Kings assistants announced,
The Southern Emperors troops have arrived!
The King was terrified, and he let out a great shout, crying, Why does the Golden Dragon Spirit
King not help me? Suddenly a golden dragon was seen pointing and saying, It is none other
than the royal daughter, Co N,ng, who scattered feathers to guide the way. There is your
vicious enemy; if you do not kill her, then what are you waiting for? The King turned round,
took a knife, and beheaded her. Her body fell into the water. The King led his horse at a gallop
to the harbor at Tiu Nha, but the road was blocked and he turned back, traveling eastward to the
harbor at i Nha. He lamented, Ive met my end.
Suddenly, he saw a golden dragon parting the water, making a path and guiding him. The King
entered the water, and then it was as before. The Southern Emperors troops arrived and, looking
over the empty vastness, they did not know where he had gone. And so, the Southern Emperor
led his troops back.
The Vit King held his country for seventeen years, from the tn-mi second year of L,ng i
Bo [551] until the t-su first year of Trn i Kin [569], when the country was lost. People
recognized his supernatural powers, and built a temple at the harbor at i Nha.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was invested the Way-Enlightening Emperor. In the
fourth year [1288], the words Founding the Estate were added. In the twenty-first year of
H,ng Long [1313], the words Eminently Sacred, Magical in Warfare were added.
When the Southern Emperor had displaced Vit King Triu, he moved his capital to the regions
of Lc Loa and V Ninh. He appointed his elder brother, X,ng Ngp, as the Thi Bnh
Marquis, in charge of Din town. He held the throne thirty years before dying, from the tnm o third year of Trn i Kin [571] until the nhm-tut second year of the Nhn Th era of
Ty Vn [602]. When the Southern Emperor died, his son, S, Li, acceded to the throne. He
19

ruled for several years, until he was killed by the Ty general L,u Ph,ng. Once the Southern
Emperor had died, the people of the country built temples to worship him everywhere. The
shrines at Tiu Nha harbor and An Khang sub-district are extremely miraculous.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was invested Majestically Heroic, Greatly Revered
Emperor. In the fourth year [1288], the words Benevolently Filial were added. In the twentyfirst year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Imperially Enlightening, Sacredly Militant were also
presented.

To this day at the two shrines, the incense is not extinguished, and divine

responsiveness has been manifest for ages.

20

The God of Agriculture


This deity was thought to have been the Minister of Agriculture under the mythical sage
king Shun and was revered as the God of Agriculture. The text says that a temple was built at the
south gate of the citadel of the Governor General of the Protectorate of An Nam during the
,ng (Tang) dynasty [7th-9th centuries].
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. What does this tell us about the importance of agriculture?
2. What might we infer from the inclusion of this mythical being in a set of tales (this first
section on Sovereigns) about mainly historical rulers? What does the tale tell us about the
role of the court in spirit worship?

Heavenly Ancestor, Lord of the Earth, God of the Kingdoms Altars


This god is the God of Agriculture, who taught the people to plant rice, and who has from Chu
times [1066-255 B.C.E.] been worshipped as an earth deity. In our country, worship is performed
in the south of La Thnh,15 next to the Quc Bnh gate. Its temple is very solemn, and it is
commonly called the Presiding Deity of the Earth Altar. Awesome supernatural power is often
manifested there. Successive dynasties conducted royal sacrifices worthy of heaven. When there
is drought or pestilence, prayers for deliverance are immediately answered. In the first year of
Trng H,ng [1285], it was posthumously honored as the Presiding God over the Gods of
Agriculture. In the fourth year [1288], the appointment was changed to Heavenly Ancestor, God
of the Kingdoms Altars.

In the twenty-first year of H,ng Long [1313], the title became

Heavenly Ancestor, Lord of the Earth, God of the Kingdoms Altars.

15

An old name for the area around modern H Ni.

21

The Tr, ng Sisters


These sisters led a brief but much-remembered uprising against Han imperial rule in the
40s C.E. It may be that worship of them arose from their violent deaths, which required
propitiation to prevent their spirits becoming malevolent. Information about their uprising and
their defeat by the Han general M Vin (Ma Yuan) is based on information preserved in Han
dynastic records. Added to this is the story of their appearance to a local king in the twelfth
century in the guise of rain maidens, deities sent from heaven to answer prayers for rain.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. What assumptions about marriage and a woman's role are expressed in the idea that Tr,ng
Trc resorted to rebellion to avenge wrongs inflicted on her husband?
2. What, if any, connection can be detected between the sisters' careers as rebel leaders and
their roles as rain maidens?

The Two Tr,ng Ladies


History records the elder sisters name as Trc and the younger sisters name as Nh. They were
originally of the Lc line, and were daughters of Lc generals in our Giao province. They were
from the sub-prefecture of M Linh in Phong province.
The elder sister was wedded to Thi Sch, a man from Chu Din sub-prefecture who had
courageous strength, as well as a heroic spirit, and who manifested an auspicious birth. Governor
T nh arranged to use his power to bring Thi Sch down. The elder sister was furious.
Together with her younger sister, she raised an army and ran out T nh, attacking and taking
our province of Giao. Because of this, Nht Nam, Hp Ph, and Cu Chn16 looked to their fame
and responded by taking more than sixty-five towns in Lnh Ngoi.

The sisters installed

themselves as Queens of Vit, ruling from Chu Din, and took the surname of Tr,ng. At that
time, T nh fled to Nam Hi.
Hn Quang V [25-58] heard of this and was furious. He banished nh to m Nh and sent
M Vin and L,u Long to bring a large army to strike them. When they reached L ng Bc, the
ladies fought back. Their followers were few and did not withstand the attack; they retreated to
16

Old names of regions in modern northern Vietnam.

22

defend Cm Kh. The band became more dispersed by the day. The ladies were isolated, and
died in battle.
The local people pitied them, and built a temple for their worship. On many occasions its divine
responsiveness has been manifest. Now the temple is in An Ht sub-prefecture. L Anh Tng
[1138-1175], because of drought, ordered meditation masters who strictly kept Buddhist
principles to pray there for rain. The sought-for rain was obtained, and refreshing air spread
among people. The emperor was delighted to see this. Suddenly, when he was sleeping, he saw
two women. Their faces were fair and their brows like willows. Their robes were green and their
trousers red. Their hats were red and they wore belts. They rode atop steel horses with the rain
to have an audience. The emperor was taken aback and asked who they were. They replied, We
are the two Tr,ng sisters. By the order of God on High, we have made rain. The emperor
awoke and, being moved by this, he ordered the restoration of the temple and the preparation of
ceremonial offerings for a sacrifice. He then sent an official to carry them in procession to the
north of the city citadel, where the V S, temple was built to worship the sisters. Later, they
again appeared in a dream to the king, asking that a temple be built at C Lai. The sovereign
complied with this, and appointed them Chaste Divine Ladies.
In the fourth year of Trng H,ng [1288], the elder sister was appointed Victorious Lady
Strategist. In the twenty-first year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Sincerely Chaste were
added. The words Keeping Obedience were added for the younger sister. Their divine
responsiveness has been manifest for ages.

23

M
M was the Queen of Champa, captured by King L Thi Tng in 1044 after her
husband was killed in battle. Champa was a kingdom that was located on what is now the
central coast of Vietnam. As she was being taken to the Vietnamese capital, modern H Ni, by
boat, she threw herself into the water and drowned to avoid being dishonored. L Thi Tng
praised her loyalty to her husband and honored her posthumously as a deity.
Possible Classroom Discussion Themes:
1. It was and is a common belief that a person who dies violently far from home and who does
not receive a proper burial, for example a death by drowning, becomes a "hungry ghost" who,
not being "fed" by funerary rituals and ceremonial remembrance, preys on and brings affliction
to living beings; such spirits need to be appeased and honored to prevent their causing harm. In
this story, there is a tension between the king's need to acknowledge and "domesticate" a
potentially hostile spirit through cult worship and an ideological agenda that places the king's
actions in the context of the Confucian patriarchal value on a woman's chastity toward her dead
husband. How is the story designed to emphasize the ideological agenda and to suppress the
more spiritualist agenda?
2. M is portrayed with the double burden of being a woman and being a so-called
"barbarian," i.e. a "foreigner" or an "outsider." How can we account for such a seemingly
marginal person being honored as a guardian deity of the kingdom?
3. The villagers are quick to take up worship of M on simply witnessing strange events near
the site of her death. The king, who also eventually takes up her cult, is more cautious. What
can you discern of the differences between popular and royal modes of spirit worship in this
setting?

According with Orthodoxy, Protecting Goodness,


Ardently Chaste, Thoroughly Courageous Lady
The ladys surname is not clear. She was a Cham named M , the wife of the former Cham
king S u [1044]. In the reign of L Thi Tng [1028-1054], S u did not keep his duty to
send tribute, abandoning the rites of a vassal. The sovereign himself led a punitive expedition
against the south. S u led his hordes into battle at the B Chnh River, where he was routed
by the kings generals. S u died in battle. His wives and concubines were captured and
brought back.

24

When they reached the L Nhn River, the sovereign heard of M s beauty and ordered a
messenger to have her brought to serve him on the royal ship. The lady was overcome with
indignation as she said, A barbarian wife and vulgar woman, shabbily dressed, with crude
speech, and not like the concubines of the middle land, I am now distressed over the destruction
of my country and the death of my husband. My destiny now can only be death. If forced to
unite in merriment, I fear I will defile the person of the emperor. Then she secretly took a white
felt blanket and wrapped it around herself. As she handed over her fate to the river current, a
single splash was heard, and then all traces of the beautiful woman were lost. The sovereign was
taken with mortification and repentance. Rescue attempts were not in time.
In that place, on peaceful nights when the waves were still and the moon and stars were bright,
the sounds of a womans sorrowful cries were often heard. The villagers took this as a strange
occurrence and petitioned to build a temple. Only then was the place at peace.
Later, the sovereign returned to L Nhn. When his boat was passing down the river, he saw the
temple beside the riverbank and asked about it. Those around him related the story. The
sovereign fell silent for a long while and then said, If by chance a barbarian woman has such
subtle chastity as that, if she is really so extraordinarily heroic, she ought to let me know. Late
that night, at the third watch, a gust of fragrant wind blew up and the air turned cool. The king
was overawed as he saw a woman prostrating herself and crying as she said, I have heard the
doctrine that a woman follow only one man, and faithfully so. My former king, though he dared
not compete with Your Majesty, was nevertheless a man of extraordinary talent in one realm. I
did lavish upon him towels and combs,17 gratefully loving him and enjoying his splendor.
Unfortunately, my country is lost and my king perished. Day and night I am sick at heart, and
only think of revenge. But those of skirts and hairpins18 are weak, and their plans take shape as
nothing. By submitting and indebting myself to Your Majestys great favor in sending your
messenger to bring me back, I have reached the golden spring19 and met my husband. My hopes
have been fulfilled. And as for divinity no sort of divine being would dare approach you so
suddenly and unceremoniously. She finished speaking and suddenly vanished. The sovereign
was startled as he came to his senses. Only then did he know it had been a dream. He
17

A classical allusion signifying service as a concubine.


A classical reference to women in general.
19
The place reached in the afterlife.
18

25

immediately prepared liquor to offer thanksgiving and appointed her Woman According with
Orthodoxy.
From then on, people far and near prayed to her and instantly found a divine response. In the
first year of Trng H,ng [1285], she was appointed Lady According with Orthodoxy, Protecting
Goodness. In the fourth year [1288], the words Ardently Chaste were added. In the twentyfirst year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Thoroughly Courageous were also awarded. To this
day, she is worshipped and is seen to be ever more divinely responsive.

26

MINISTERS

27

L Hong
L Hong was the eighth son of King L Thi Tng [r. 1028-53] and made a
distinguished career as governor of the southernmost province, Ngh An, and protector of the
southern frontier facing Champa. After his father's death, his elder brother, King L Thnh
Tng [r. 1054-72], was not comfortable with his reputation and forced his retirement. The story
contains accounts of an omen and a dream to contextualize his sudden death. His apparent
popularity among local people led to him being recognized as a deity.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. With what details does the story indicate the merit of L Hong? What kinds of qualities and
achievements were valued by his father the King? How was he rewarded for his good work?
What do these qualities, achievements and rewards suggest about the nature of government in
that time and place?
2. Between the resignation and death of L Hong occurred some remarkable events. Why does
the story discuss these events in such detail? How does the narrative endeavor to explain the
sudden death of a hero?

Majestically Enlightening, Ardently Courageous, Manifesting Loyalty,


Assisting Sacredness, Believing and Assisting Great King
The King was of the L line and was named Hong. He was the eighth child of L Thi Tng
[1028-1054], and his mother was Queen L Th Trinh Minh. He was a loyal, filial, and carefully
reverential person. Firm and daring in his actions, he was called the Eighth Son Prince.
In the first year of Cn Ph Hu o [1039], he was chosen to serve as a tax collector in Ngh
An province. He held that office for several years, not violating the smallest thing. He was
famous for his fairness and honesty. The emperor loved him, granting him the title Majestically
Enlightening Crown Prince and giving him control over the military and civil affairs in that
province.
At that time, Thi Tng wished to make a punitive attack against Champa. He ordered the prince
separately to build a secret country estate called Fort B Ha. It was to be secure and welldefended, with deep moats and high hedges on all four sides. The interior of the fort had to be
large enough to hold thirty to forty thousand troops, and the treasury had to hold enough wages
28

and provisions for three years. Then when the sovereign punished the south, indeed he scored a
great victory.

The Cham king, S u, was beheaded in battle [1044].

His wives and

concubines, men and women, carriages, gold and silver, and other riches to be reckoned in the
thousands were captured.
As the emperor returned in victory, he came to the military post in that province and saw that the
King had capably handled his tasks without fault, implementing official orders better each day.
He then appointed him to administer the entire circuit and promoted him to the rank of V,ng.
An imperial order was then issued to bestow on the prince the registers of a circuit in that
province, including six districts, four cantons, sixty communes, and all the inhabitants. In all,
there were 46,450 households and 54,364 individuals.20 Furthermore, it was commanded by
imperial decree that each and every leader of a commune in a canton from then on could be
installed only as High Collector to govern the commune and must not, as at first, be excessively
styled as Crown Prince Recordkeeper or Royal Palace Recordkeeper.
The King, moreover, because most of the Di and Lo peoples from the coasts and mountains of
Ngh An had not yet submitted, offered invitations for them to visit him as their superior, and he
appealed for them to yield to his command, to grasp the royal insignia, and to patrol the royal
frontier. The Di leaders all submitted to him, and thus five provinces, twenty-two forts, and fiftysix bamboo palisades were taken. Then there was an edict to measure three borders of the
province. Stone steles were erected and engraved to record meritorious acts in distant places.
In the second year of the Long Thy Thi Bnh [1055] era of L Thnh Tng [1054-1072], the
King pacified the bandit groups of ng Yt and L B. When he returned, a rumor reached the
emperor that the King was acting as a despot and independently using the troops for punitive
expeditions.

The emperor suspected him, and the King resigned his offices.

He oversaw

provincial affairs for sixteen years, and his good reputation was heard more widely every day.
The people trusted and loved him. When they heard of his resignation, the people strove to hold
on to his carriage and to push his horses, weeping with desire to detain him.

20

We can surmise from the low number of indiduals (khu) in relation to households (h) that, unless errors
have grown into these figures, only taxable or conscriptable men were counted in this number.

29

Shortly thereafter, the King had just been sitting at leisure in his home when a raven flew in
through the curtains, making the swallows and sparrows call out over one another in cacophony.
The people in the house wanted to catch it, but the King said not to make a move and to wait
carefully to see to where it would fly. The raven flew three circles all around the curtains, then to
the place in front of where the King was sitting. It cried out as it flew, reaching the Kings lap
and falling there. It became a piece of white paper. On it were characters of an unclear
appearance that could not be understood. They just looked like dragons and clouds. The King
ordered the paper put away.
That night, the moon was clear and the wind cool; the scene was lovely. The King went all
around inviting family and friends to come together to revel. Music and singing rose up. Food
and liquor were laid out in abundance. In the hall there was joy and laughter, not less than at the
galas at the pool in Fairyland.21 The King suddenly fell into sleep as he sat. He saw a man
around sixty years of age who was wearing an imperial intendants hat. His robe was dark red,
the hue of which was as when the sun shines through mist, and across his back he wore a belt.
His hand held a green dragon22 saber shaped like a crescent moon. He came before the King to
speak. The King asked who he was. The figure replied, I am the V Khc star in the heavens.
Receiving the order of the Jade Emperor at an Tiu, I ask you to come to the abode of the T
H, Qun23 to draft a jade document. The King responded, saying, I am foolish, and a
mortal person of carnal thoughts. How can men do the work of Heaven? Then he struck his
hand on the green dragon saber in complete refusal. Suddenly, there arose an auspicious wind
that blew the swings around. The King awoke in a fright. Only then did he know it had been a
dream.
The King related the entire story, including having seen the raven flying in the daytime. Family
and friends all said these were good omens. The King entered his bedroom and then suddenly,
without sickness, he died.

21

The kingdom of Ty V,ng Mu; a name for Beijing.


A figure considered auspicious.
23
A deity of unclear origin.
22

30

The people in the province asked to build a temple for his worship. Among prayers for clear
skies and for rain, all were divinely answered. He became the benevolent deity of a province.
Regions with concentrated and dispersed populations all had separate temples at which to offer
sacrifice. Whenever the Son of Heaven sent his commanders to punish rebels, the Kings
palanquin was inevitably carried in procession at the front. Thus, at the battleground, one could
hear in the sky the sounds of soldiers and horses, and the battle always ended in a great victory.
In the Trn Nguyn Phong era [1251-1258], Trn Thi Tng [1226-1258] led a punitive
expedition to the south against Champa. The Kings boat went fast as the wind, and indeed
victory was achieved. In their victorious return, the army reached the provincial palace and he
was appointed Majestically Enlightening, Ardently Courageous Great King.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], the words Manifesting Loyalty were further granted. In
the fourth year [1288], the words Assisting Sacredness were added. In the twenty-first year of
H,ng Long [1313], the words Believing and Assisting were also conferred.

31

L ng Trng
L ng Trng was was thought to have been a giant from the H Ni region who, in the
third century B.C.E., served the famous conqueror Tn Thy Hong (Qin Shi Huang) on the
Central Asian frontier of what is now northern China. After his death, a mechanical effigy of
him was constructed to keep the people of that frontier in a submissive spirit. His cult appears to
date from the late eighth and mid ninth centuries when it was patronized by two ,ng (Tang)
governors, Triu X,ng (Zhao Chang) and Cao Bin (Gao Pian).
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Some versions of L ng Trng's biography do not mention a school education, but say that
the local ruler sent him to serve the emperor in the north to get him out of the way because he
was so dangerous to have around. What point is being made in this version of the story when it
emphasizes his formal education as a means for advancement? The discussion of a classical text
in the encounter of the Protector General Triu X,ng with L ng Trng reinforces this
emphasis. What does this suggest about the perspective of this version of the story toward the
system of imperial government?
2. A giant is by definition something excessive and abnormal, out of proper context and
conventional means of control. How can we read this story as a description of how the wild
power of a giant is tamed by rulers and channeled into approved forms of behavior?

Commandant, Majestically Courageous,


Ardently Heroic, Assisting Belief Great King
The King was of the L line and was named ng Trng. A man from T Lim, his body stood
some twenty-three feet tall. He had an upright and courageous demeanor rare in ordinary men.
When he was young, he was serving as a local official when he was caned by the governor
general. He lamented, Men have resolution and determination, and like the paired male and
female phoenix, with one flap of the wings can fly ten thousand miles. So how can I stand to be
spat upon and reviled, serving as a slave to others? And so he entered school; time went by.
When he could elucidate the classics and history, he entered the mandarinate for Tn [306-207
B.C.E.], serving as Managing and Controlling Commandant. Tn Thy Hong [246-209 B.C.E.]

32

was annexing all under heaven, and sent him to lead generals and troops to hold Lm Thao. His
reputation shook the Hung N,24 and he was given a jade tablet25 by Thy Hong.
When he reached old age, he returned to his native village. Thy Hong ordered copper cast for
making a statue of him. It was placed outside the T, M gate of the Hm palace. The statues
belly could hold tens of people. When emissaries from all around arrived, people were secretly
ordered to enter the belly to shake the statue. The Hung N watched in fright, thinking it was
because the Commandant was alive. They admonished one another not to dare to violate the
borders.
In the early years of the Trinh Nguyn era of ,ng c Tng [785-805], Triu X,ng served as
protector general of our An Nam and often went on trips throughout the country. At night he
dreamed he saw himself speaking with L ng Trng about the essential points of good
government and expounding upon the T clan commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals.
And so he sought out ng Trngs old house. But he only saw smoke and thick fog across the
space. There was a vast expanse of water and a moss-covered stone path. Wild greenery was
scattered thickly. A small innocuous cloud from emptiness threw off and scattered blossoms on
the village grass. Consequently, he began to build another temple on a high and level spot with a
multi-storied tower. Ceremonial offerings were prepared and brought for sacrifice.
When Cao Bin destroyed the Nam Chiu [866], ng Trng regularly manifested his divine
assistance.

Bin was greatly astonished and ordered the temple repaired and expanded by

artisans so that it would be larger than on the old model. He ordered wooden statues carved and
painted. Ceremonial offerings were prepared and brought for sacrifice. The incense has not been
extinguished.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Ardently Heroic King. In the fourth
year [1288], the words Mightily Courageous were also conferred. In the twentieth year of
H,ng Long [1312], he was also granted the title Assisting Belief Great King.

24
25

A name referring to certain Turkic tribes occupying modern Mongolia in the time of the Han dynasty.
An item given to feudal princes upon investiture.

33

L Th, ng Kit
L Th,ng Kit was a eunuch and military leader who began his career under King L
Thi Tng [r. 1028-53], distinguished himself in the 1066 expedition to Champa during the reign
of King L Thnh Tng [r. 1054-72], is most remembered today for his leadership during the
war with Tng (Song) in 1074-76 when King L Nhn Tng was still a child, and spent the last
decades of his life as viceroy of the southern provinces of Thanh Hoa and Ngh An. In 1074, he
plundered three Tng provinces across the northern border in an effort to destroy the supplies
and troops being concentrated there in preparation for an attack. When the attack came in the
following year, he successfully led local forces in blocking its advance at a river northeast of H
Ni.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. In the twentieth century, nationalist historiography has listed L Th,ng Kit in the first rank
among "national heroes" who defended the country against invasion. What in this story suggests
that he was more than an ordinary military leader with competence to defend the kingdom?
2. Although primarily a military leader, L Th,ng Kit is also praised in this story for his
success in reforming religious practice in the territory assigned to him. What do you think was
the significance of this for ruling-class people of that time and place?

Defender-in-Chief, Loyally Assisting, Mightily Militant, Majestically Victorious Duke


The Duke was of the L line and was named Th,ng Kit. He was from the sub-district of Thi
Ha to the right-hand side of the capital at Thng Long.
His father, An Ng, served as an official and reached the post of Revered Gentleman of the
Household. For generations theirs had been a family of hatpins and ivory tablets.26 The Duke
was of many plots and strategies, having the talent of a martial leader. In his youth, he was
slender and graceful, refined and elegant. He was lauded spectacularly and appointed Palace
Gateman-Usher.
In the reign of L Thi Tng [1028-1054], he was promoted to Office Inspector-Manager. L
Thnh Tng [1054-1072] made him Commandant Grand Guardian. He kept his post with careful
reverence, actively following the system of rites and laws and never making the slightest of
excesses. He was given the duty to oversee officials and people in the two districts of Thanh Hoa
34

and Ngh An, as well as the five sub-prefectures and three upland villages of the Man and Lo.
If there were rebels, he was authorized to quell them. Only Champa was neglectful of its duty to
send tribute, so the sovereign himself went to punish them. The Duke obeyed orders to take on
additional responsibility as a great general, and was given halberd and flag as he led the
vanguard. The Cham lord, Ch C [1061-1074],27 was captured alive.
Because of his merit, he was appointed Defender-in-Chief Bulwark of the State.

He then

accepted the titles of Area Commander with Special Warrant Over the Various Garrisons,
Cooperating With Officials of the Secretariat-Chancellery, Supreme Pillar of State, Adopted
Brother of the Son of Heaven, Great Bulwark-General of the State, and Dynasty-Founding Duke.
L Nhn Tng [1072-1128] ascended the throne and promoted him to Defender-in-Chief
Bulwark of the State, employing him as a high official.
Early in the Anh V Chiu Thng era [1076-1085], the Duke heard that the Tng wanted to bring
down troops to watch our frontier from afar in order to obtain a pretext for military action. The
Duke immediately petitioned the emperor, Sitting and waiting for the enemy to arrive is not as
good as striking first to grab the tip of his lance. Thereupon, the emperor ordered the Duke to
lead a great army. He destroyed Ung, Khm, and Lim, subduing four forts in those regions, and
captured innumerable riches. In the first year of Long Ph [1101], he was given the titles of
Palace Attendant Supervising the Department of First-Class Employees and General
Administrator of Matters Inside and Outside the Palace.
That winter, he pacified the rebel L Gic of Din province. The Tng retaliated by plundering
and winning Lc, L,c, and other provinces. The Duke gathered his strength and constructed a
wall along the Nh, Nguyt River. He retook V Bnh Nguyn. Upon returning from battle, his
praises and rewards were greatly increased.
When he died, he was awarded the posthumous titles of Office Manager of Those Who Enter the
Palace, Inspecting and Approving Defender-In-Chief, Manager of Important Security Matters of

26

An allusion denoting service as a civil official.


By referring to Ch C as a lord instead of a king or emperor, the text implies that this Cham ruler was
inferior in status to the Vietnamese monarch.
27

35

the Realm, and Duke of the Vit Realm. He was given rice land with ten thousand households,
and his younger brother, L Th,ng Hin, succeeded him in being granted the rank of marquis.
The people were fond of demons and spirits; witches and wizards deluded men. The Defenderin-Chief greatly increased reprimands and fines, sifted out more than half, and sternly did away
with vile customs. Consequently, at that time, wherever there were obscene temples, they were
always changed into places for offering incense to benevolent deities. The people received great
favor from him, and they petitioned to build a temple for his worship. Whenever they prayed,
they always received a divine response.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Loyally Assisting Duke. In the fourth
year [1288], the words Mightily Militant were added. In the twenty-first year of H,ng Long
[1313], the words Majestically Victorious were also granted. At this deeply majestic temple,
divine responsiveness is increasingly manifest.

36

T Lch
T Lch was reportedly a local magistrate in the H Ni area around the fourth century
C.E. His cult appears to date from the early ninth century when Protector General L Nguyn
Gia built a new headquarters and made T Lch the guardian deity of the wall he constructed
around it. A few decades later, Cao Bin built i La on the same site after a war in which the
city had been destroyed, and, according to this story, he also honored T Lch as the local
protector spirit. This text concludes with a story about King L Thi T, the first king of the L
dynasty, who in the early eleventh century moved his capital to this same site and experienced an
encounter with T Lch that resulted in T Lch being named the deity of his city.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. What kind of relationship is described in this story between the spirit T Lch and the
Protector General L Nguyn Gia?
2. How is the relationship between T Lch and King L Thi T different from the one between
T Lch and L Nguyn Gia? How do the dialogues between T Lch and the two men differ?

Protector of the Country, Guarding Divinity,


Fixing the State, God of the Capital of the Realm Great King
According to the Records of Giao Province and the Records Declaring the Ultimate, the King
was originally of the T line and named Lch. He served as a magistrate in Long . The
Kings forefathers had long resided in Long , with their village on the bank of a small river.
The family was not overly wealthy, but lived by the rule of putting filial piety first. Three
generations were benevolent and yielding, and did not live apart.
In the Tn era [265-420], filial persons were nominated, and there was an edict to display a royal
testimonial at the village gate.28 In years when the harvest failed and grain stores were empty, an
edict was handed down to loan rice. For this reason, T Lch was taken as the name of the
village.
In the third year of the Tr,ng Khnh era of ,ng Mc Tng [823], Protector General L
Nguyn Gia saw that at the northern gate of Long Bin town there was a stream flowing in
28

The implication is that T Lch was nominated to the court as an exemplar of filial piety and rewarded with royal
recognition of his virtue.

37

reverse and the landscape was pleasing. He then went all around searching for a high, dry place
and moved the prefectural town there. Its activities were regulated and there were several layers
of gates and ramparts. There were houses and uneven rooftops in all four directions, including
the Kings old house from the time he was alive. Oxen were slaughtered and liquor was filtered;
the village elders from all around were asked to come and tell stories of the King. They wished
to petition the court to make the King the God of the City. All agreed in this, and their wish was
satisfied. Scarcely a few days after construction was begun,29 completion was announced. As a
matter of course, it was a crowded temple, solemn and imposing. On the day of inauguration,
there was ceremonial dancing and singing, and the sounds of stringed instruments and flutes
reached to the sky. Because of the people, the land was a place of beauty, and because of virtue,
the people were prosperous. Is that not right?
That night, Nguyn Gia was lying peacefully by a window. Suddenly there was a gust of cool
wind that struck his nostrils as it came. Dirt kicked up and sand flew round. The curtains rustled
and tables shook. There was a man riding a white deer who descended from the sky. His beard
and brows were brilliantly white. His clothing was clear and distinct. He announced to Nguyn
Gia, Your Lord has appointed me King of the city. If you can teach and transform the people
residing within these walls with complete purity and absolute loyalty, then you will fulfill the
office of prefect and be worthy of the duty to follow excellence. Nguyn Gia bowed and made
obeisance in consent. He asked the visitors name, but there was no response. Suddenly he
awoke. Then he knew it had been a dream.
When Cao Bin built the town of i La [c. 866], he heard of T Lchs divine and supernatural
powers. So he prepared offerings for a sacrifice and honored him as the Capital City Protector
Spirit Lord.
When L Thi T was moving the capital [1010], he often dreamed he dimly saw an old whitehaired man appearing in audience before the royal throne. The man kowtowed once, and then
again, saying, Long live the King! The sovereign was taken aback and asked the mans name.
The man set forth the whole story. The sovereign laughed and said, Would the honorable spirit
like incense kept for a hundred years? The man replied, I only hope that the royal fortunes are
29

Apparently, the construction of a temple to recognize the deitys status.

38

stable as a rock and prosperous, with endless saintly longevity; that in court and out in the
districts there is great peace; and that servants like me will have incense kept not for just a
hundred years. The sovereign awoke and ordered the chief priest to make an offering of liquor.
The spirit was made Thng Long Capital City of the Realm God Great King. When the residents
prayed and took oaths before him, a divine response of calamity or blessing was immediately
observed.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], the words Protector of the Country were added. In the
fourth year [1288], the words Guarding Divinity were also granted. In the twenty-first year of
H,ng Long [1313], the words Fixing the State were also granted.

39

Phm C L, ng
Phm C L,ng had been a general under King L Hon (also known as L i Hnh)
[r. 980-1005] and had distinguished himself in wars against Tng (Song) in the north and
Champa in the south. His father and elder brother had served earlier kings. His cult appears to
date from the reign of King L Thi Tng [r. 1028-53], who made him the deity to preside over
the administration of justice at the royal court.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. What is the significance of having a deity preside over the administration of justice (litigants
would swear an oath before the deity that they were telling the truth and the deity would afflict
them if they did not) and how is it different from contemporary practice of taking oaths before
giving testimony in court?
2. Who sent Phm C L,ng to help the king administer justice and why? What does this imply
about how the relation between living men and the world of spirits was imagined?

Vastly Sacred, Assisting,30 Loyally Militant, Assisting Governance Great King


According to the Historical Records, the King was of the Phm line and was named C L,ng.31
In the time of L Thi Tng [1028-1054], because the protectorate had many doubtful cases at
law that the judges could not resolve, it was desired to establish a temple to a deity. It was hoped
that because of its former manifestation of splendid divine eminence on earth, whenever devious
and deceitful persons came to its audience, they would not dare to deceive or lie. The emperor
made ritual ablutions and fasted, burning incense and setting up an altar. At night he appealed to
God on High.
That night, the emperor dreamed he saw an emissary clad in a red robe carrying an order from
God on High to appoint Phm C L,ng as Receiver of Oaths for Protectorate Litigation. The
30

This character,
khung, has been circled in the text by the copyist or a later editor. The intention of this mark
was likely to identify it as improper in this place, for it violated the standard practice, usually followed throughout
the text, of composing the titles of spirits using character pairs. However, as the character has remained intact, we
offer it here.
31
The text appears in confusion over whether to render the characters name as Khung L,ng or C L,ng. This
figure is most commonly referenced by the latter name, though the A.751 text uses the character khung in all but
one instance in the text. Most likely, the confusion has grown out of the use of the character khung in one of the
honorary titles bestowed on the spirit. Here, we have substituted C for Khung to accord with the common
way of remembering this figures name.

40

sovereign asked the heavenly emissary, Who was this person? Which of our posts did he fill?
The emissary said, This person was defender-in-chief in the court of L i Hnh [980-1005].
He was a servant loyal to the end in requiting his debt to the country, a servant of the gods of soil
and grain.32 He was equitable and pure, lenient and straightforward. He brought the elements
and life to action. After he died, he was questioned and judged to be pure, with no excesses. He
was appointed an official in charge of salaries in Nam To Cc.33 Because he still carries
imperfect vestiges from a former life, he is temporarily being sent down to the world of men to
govern the examination and resolution of legal cases.

The figure finished speaking and

vanished.
The sovereign awoke. He ordered the royal court officials questioned and they all replied, This
is truly a good man. He was the grandson of Phm Chim, the provincial governor of V An. He
was the son of Phm Mn, a participant in government. He was the younger brother of Phm
Dt, a commandant. Phm Chim assisted First Lord Ng34 and had merit in opening the
country. He was granted the title of Bronze-Armored General. Mn assisted King Ng Nam Tn
[936-947] and served as a participant in the politics of the protectorate. Dt assisted inh Tin
Hong [968-979] and then L i Hnh. He had merit earned by loyal service in abundance and
served as an official through the rank of Campaign Commander-General Under-Official. C
L,ng assisted the inh [968-980] and then the L [980-1009],35 and had merit in helping
implement imperial orders. He served as a second-rank military official. He was an imperial
escort in a punitive expedition to the south against Champa and had merit in returning enemy
ears and prisoners of war, and the head of their lord. He was made defender-in-chief. In that
family, three generations were honorably praised. The sovereign heeded his officials and
granted the title Liberally Orthodox Great King. Afterwards, the title was changed to Vastly
Sacred.
That night, the sovereign dreamed he saw the King in full ceremonial dress, with belt fastened,
hastening to make obeisance above the royal courtyard. The sovereign was taken aback at this
and ordered scribes to make records in engraved stone displaying his very meritorious acts.

32

A classical allusion signifying the country as a whole.


A heavenly office overseeing worldly affairs.
34
See the introducution to the tale of Phng H,ng.
35
That is, the Former L dynasty of Vietnam, to be distinguished from the Later L dynasty [1427-1788].
33

41

In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Savior of the Country. In the fourth
year [1288], the words Loyally Militant were also granted. In the twenty-first year of H,ng
Long, the words Assisting Governance were also granted.

42

L Phng Hiu
L Phng Hiu was a village strong man who was recruited for the palace guard of King
L Thi T [1009-1028]. When L Thi T died, his heir, King L Thi Tng [1028-1053], was
attacked by three other princes who disputed his authority. L Phng Hiu became famous for
leading the attack on the three princes, killing one of them and dispersing their soldiers. He also
distinguished himself in the expedition against Champa in 1044, after which he was given, as
reward, land to the extent that he could throw his blade. His name became synonymous with
loyalty.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. L Phng Hius early career as a village bully/hero attracted the attention of the rulers and
made him a suitable person to bring into the royal entourage, not only because of the positive
value his physical strength had for the king, but also as a way to make sure he would not become
a bandit or rebel leader. Kings took care to identify and recruit people who became too
dangerous to leave at large in village society, hoping to make loyal royal servants of them. How
does this story normalize L Phng Hiu's potentially dangerous qualities?
2. L Phng Hiu was rewarded with land by the king to the extent that he could throw a blade,
which was a way of earning an estate exempt from royal taxes, and when he died he was deified
and worshipped. In this success story, a village tough becomes a royal officer, serves the king
loyally, grows rich, enjoys old age, and at death is promoted to be a supernatural being; what
function might a story like this serve in nurturing social order?

Campaign Commander-General, Savior of the Country,


Assisting Sacredness King Lord36
The King was of the L line and was named Phng Hiu. He was a man from Mount Bang in the
prefecture of Thanh Hoa. Some say he was the grandson of the Frontier-Pacifying Marquis, L
nh. He was an unusually large man, with a beautiful beard and moustache and superhuman
strength.
When he was a young man, there were people availing themselves of their strength to fight over
farmland in Thu commune on the L,ng River. The King yanked a young bamboo tree from
the ground with his bare hands, roots and all, in order to fight. None dared oppose him.

36

The text appears in confusion over the final title, King or Lord (Cha). Lord appears to have been written
originally, with King inserted later. Both characters appear side-by-side in A.751.

43

Vit histories supplement that when he was small, the King was strong and brave. The two
villages of C Bi and m X were fighting over their border, using soldiers to spy on one
another. The King rolled up his sleeves and told the people from C Bi, I alone can take on a
crowd of ten thousand! The village elders were greatly pleased and offered a feast with vintage
liquor so that the King might drink to drunkenness and eat to the full. The King ate till his belly
and neck bulged, taking all the rice from a giant number-thirty kettle to fill himself. He drank an
immeasurable amount of liquor. That day, when the elders feasted him to great and complete
fullness, he immediately challenged the people from m X village. The two villages engaged
in battle. The King picked himself up and uprooted a great tree. Wielding it with his hands,
everything was destroyed and scattered wherever he turned. A great many were injured. The
people from m X were greatly afraid and awed, and they returned the farmland to C Bi.
When L Thi T [1009-1028] was recruiting young men of strength and courage to fill out the
palace guard units, the King stood for recruitment. He was assiduous in his labors and was given
work. He was exceedingly compatible with the sovereigns heart and was promoted to General
of the Militant Guard, the same rank as held by m Thn, Quch Thnh Dt, and L Huyn S,.
Thi T died. L Thi Tng [1028-1054] received his testament to accede to the throne.
The three princes Dc Thnh, V c, and ng Chinh together plotted a revolt, bringing their
prefectural guard troops straight to violate the central citadel. They divided the gates among
themselves and fought to enter, attacking together in disordered fashion. The situation was more
than urgent. L Thi Tng was terrified, not knowing how to get out. He immediately ordered
the King to take control of affairs. He said, I can neither advance nor retreat. You should act as
you find fit. So the King led the palace guards out of the citadel gates to engage in battle.
Armored soldiers received them. The winners and losers were not yet decided when the King
drew his sword in anger. He went straight to the Qung D,ng gate and, shouting loudly, said to
Prince V c, You princes wish to have that which cannot be had in the sacred throne.
Scorning the royal successor, you have forgotten the favor of the First Emperor37 and transgressed
the way of righteousness for subjects. The subject Phng Hiu receives his sword and offers it to
you! He charged straight to the place where Prince V c was mounted on his horse. Prince
V c commanded his horse and wanted to strike the King, but his horse fell down and he was
37

Here, the first L emperor, L Thi T.

44

beheaded by the King. The troops from the three prefectures fled in defeat. The imperial troops
followed and killed them. Almost no one was left behind; only ng Chinh and Dc Thnh
escaped with their lives.
The King returned to announce the victory before Thi Ts coffin and then went to the Celestial
Palace to announce the victory. The sovereign praised him, saying, I have been able to shoulder
the estate of the First Emperor and preserve my body all because of your strength. I have opened
the ,ng histories and seen how Ut Tr Knh c assisted the king in a desperate time. I
thought that among subjects of later generations, none could be considered as his equal. Now I
know your loyalty and bravery far surpass that of Knh c. The King cried as he prostrated
himself, saying, Your Highnesss virtue moves the heavens and the earth. Your majesty shakes
the borders, and at court as well as in the countryside, things unite in following your direction.
The dukes whose hearts sprouted heterodox designs could not but be punished by spirits high and
low. Your servant has no power at all. And so the emperor made him Campaign Commander
Supreme General, with the rank of marquis.
In the Thin Cm Thnh V era [1044-1049], Thi Tng ordered a punitive expedition to the
south against Champa. The King went in the vanguard. Great destruction was achieved and
prisoners of war were taken. His name shook the vassal states. On the day of triumphant return,
merit was assessed and awards were made. By edict, over a hundred and fifty acres of public
land below Mount Bang were to be granted as the Kings private estate with the blade-cut tax
exemption.
According to the Historical Records, upon returning from the pacification of Champa, there was
an assessment of merit. Phng Hiu did not want ranks and rewards. His wish was to be allowed
to stand atop Mount Bng and hurl a large dagger. On examining where the blade cut into the
earth, he would be granted the land to that point in order to form his estate. The emperor
assented to this. Then L Phng Hiu ascended the mountain and hurled the dagger. It went
over ten miles, falling in the village of a M. He was granted this land with the blade-cut tax
exemption. For this reason, when merit is rewarded with land in A province, it has the name
blade-cut. This first began with the King.

45

The King was completely loyal to the sovereign. Whatever he knew, he always told it. When he
went to conquer his enemies, it was this that led him to defeat them. At the age of seventy-seven,
he died. The local people remembered him by building a shrine and worshipping him as a
benevolent deity. The villagers pray there and immediately observe divine responses.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Campaign Commander-General King.
In the fourth year [1288], the words Savior of the Country were also granted. In the twentyfirst year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Assisting Sacredness were also granted. To this
day, the shrine is eminent and imposing. The incense has not been extinguished.

46

Mc Thn
Mc Thn was a fisherman who foiled an assassination attempt on King L Nhn Tng in
1096. The would-be assassin happened to be the high-ranking royal minister L Vn Thnh
disguised as a tiger, who was subsequently exiled to a remote mountain outpost.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. What does this story suggest about loyalty in reference to a person's position in society?
2. What is the role of the snake in the temple?

Defender-in-Chief, Loyally Quick-Witted, Militantly Firm Duke


According to the Historical Records and oral lore, the Duke was of the Mc line and was named
Thn. He took fishing nets and caught fish for a living. In the time of L Nhn Tng [10721128], Grand Preceptor L Vn Thnh was rearing a domestic servant from i L38 who was
skilled at making incantations and illusions. He could raise darkness and transform himself into
the body of one who has attained the Way,39 taking the form of a tiger or panther. Vn Thnh
enticed his servant and learned his ability, then devised a plot to trap his servant and kill him.
The secret plan was not stopped.
In the deep of spring, Thi Tng went on an excursion to West Lake40 to watch the fish. His
drifting boat rowed to and fro across the lake, making for merriment. Suddenly, a mist arose and
vapor covered everyones eyes. On all sides, nothing could be made out. Suddenly there was
heard the lone sound of rowing oars. Dark fog approached. Concealed within the fog there was a
great tiger. Its gums and teeth had the appearance of wanting to chew men. The sovereign
looked into the distance and was greatly afraid. At that time, the Duke was in his little boat
casting his nets to catch fish. He looked at things closely and said, Matters are urgent! He
took a net and cast it, catching a great tiger. It was Vn Thnh. An imperial order commanded
that iron chains lock him in a wooden prisoners cage and that he be imprisoned in the Thao

38

A region of Yunnan province in China.


A Buddhist conception of the body of one who has achieved enlightenment in this life.
40
A large lake in northern H Ni.
39

47

River region. The sovereign lauded the Duke for having great merit in protecting him, making
him Commander-General-in-Chief. He served through the rank of Bulwark-General of the State.
Upon his death, he was awarded the rank of Defender-in-Chief. A temple was built and statues
were sculpted for his worship. His temple has clearly been divine and magical.
There is a snake that lives in a hole in a pillar next to the temple. When sacrifices are offered on
the first and middle days of every lunar month, it curls up and lies below the foundation. People
pass by and are not afraid. If evil or mean people enter, most are bitten. At sundown, the snake
again returns to live in the hole in the pillar. Nowadays, the temple has been expanded and
improved, and the villagers worship Mc Thn as a benevolent deity.
In the fourth year of Trng H,ng [1288], he was appointed Loyally Quick-Witted Duke. In the
twenty-first year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Militantly Firm were also granted.

48

The Tr,ng Brothers


Tr,ng Hng and Tr,ng Ht are remembered as loyal officers of Triu Quang Phc in
the sixth century. When Triu Quang Phc was defeated by L Pht T and L Pht T invited
them to change their allegience to him, they chose to remain loyal to Triu Quang Phc to the
death. After their deaths, because of their extraordinary loyalty, they were assigned by God to
patrol and insure good order along the rivers north of H Ni. They were thought to have
assisted Ng Quyn (the "First Lord") at the Battle of Bch ng in 939 against an invading
force from the north, and to have assisted a son of Ng Quyn (King Ng Nam Tn) to suppress
rebels. They were also believed to have assisted the forces of King L Nhn Tng, led by
General L Th,ng Kit, against an invading Tng [Song] army in 1076. On that occasion,
according to this text, a poem was heard being sung in the temple that was dedicated to one of
the brothers, which was located near the site of battle; in the poem, the voice of the spirit
addressed the army of L Th,ng Kit predicting success against the enemy.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. These brothers who became river spirits are associated in other, more popular, stories with a
type of worship in which a pair of water snakes (a long one called Mister Long and a short one
called Mister Short) embody the guardian spirits of a river. Here this kind of local serpent
worship appears to have been erased by stories about loyalty to one's lord, divine appointments,
and assisting kings to suppress rebels and repel invaders, all themes that sustain the authority of
rulers. Can you think of ways in which political leaders today retell events to sustain their
authority?
2. The poem sung in the temple has in the twentieth century been identified by nationalist
scholars as an early example of what they call "national resistance literature" and, during the
wars of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, has been translated into western languages to
affirm what is taken as some kind of essential spirit of the Vietnamese people to resist foreigners.
How does reading the poem without this nationalist agenda produce other possible meanings?

Driving-Away-the-Enemy, Virtuously Protecting, Assisting Obedience Great King


Stern-to-the-Enemy, Mightily Courageous, Clearly Victorious Great King
According to Thins Historical Records, the two Kings were brothers. In the time of King
Ng Nam Tn [951-965], the rebel L Huy in Long province was being suppressed. The troops
were camped at Ph Lan riverport. At night the king dreamed he saw two men. Their clothes
were extraordinary and they were of imposing manner. They looked at the sovereign and said,
The rebels have long been insubordinate. We ask to follow your troops and assist in battle.
The sovereign was perplexed and asked, Who are you? I have never before known your faces.
49

Since you have received from the gods acknowledgement of your merit, it is fitting that you tell
your names.
The two men knelt in obeisance and said, We are brothers, and we are from Ph Lan. We are
originally of the Tr,ng line. The elder brother is named Hng and the younger brother is named
Ht. We both served as generals of King Triu. When King Triu was defeated by Southern
Emperor L, the Southern Emperor prepared ceremonial offerings and received us, wishing that
we serve him as officials. We both responded to him, saying, A loyal subject does not serve two
lords; a high-principled woman does not take two husbands. How can men who turn their backs
on righteousness, moreover, wish to submit to a new lord and not have their purity affected?
And so we fled to hide at Mount Ph Long. The Southern Emperor summoned us repeatedly, but
we did not answer. The Southern Emperor became angry and ordered men to hunt us down, but
they could not capture us. A reward of a thousand gold pieces was posted for our capture. We
had no way to either advance or retreat. We both drank poison and died. God on High pitied us
as without fault, having died not in accordance with our fate. He appointed us Foreshore River
Dragon Lord Vice-Commissioners, patrolling the origins of the V and L,ng Rivers. We were
called River-Patrolling Vice-Commissioners. Previously, at the First Lords Battle of Bch ng,
we put forth great assistance. The sovereign awoke. He ordered liquor prepared and delicacies
brought for libations. He prayed, If you are indeed eminently divine and assist in making this
battle a victory, I will immediately erect a shrine and allocate estates. Incense will not be
extinguished.
The sovereign began to advance and surround Mount Cn Ln. The enemy relied on the natural
defenses of the terrain, and it was not possible to climb up. The troops were long stalled, and
they were all disheartened. One night, the sovereign again dreamed he saw the two Kings in
command of troops in tightly organized units having the appearance of supernatural beings. The
ranks were well-disciplined, and there were extremely well-marshaled aboriginal tribes. They
assembled in orderly fashion at Ph Lan riverport. The elder brothers troops came from the V
Bnh River to Nh, Nguyt. A division entered the head of the Ph L,ng River. The younger
brothers troops went along the L,ng River and entered the Nam Bnh River. The sovereign
suddenly awoke and spoke with his assistants. And indeed, this battle achieved victory. On the
day Ty Long was pacified, officials were ordered to divide land and build a temple to worship
50

the brothers. They were officially made the benevolent deities of the region. An edict appointed
the elder brother i ,ng River Realm-Protecting Spirit King. A temple for his worship was
erected at the mouth of the Nh, Nguyt River. The younger brother was appointed Tiu ,ng
River Realm-Protecting Spirit King. A temple was erected at the mouth of the Nam Bnh River.
In the reign of L Nhn Tng [1072-1128], Tng troops invaded the south [1075]. When they
reached this place, Defender-in-Chief L Th,ng Kit41 was ordered to build a palisade along the
river for defense. One night, soldiers in the temple suddenly heard on high the sound of someone
intoning,
The southern mountains and rivers are the dwelling-place of the southern emperor;
The separation is allotted and fixed in the Book of Heaven.
How dare rebellious slaves come to invade?
You will go out and see their utter defeat!42
Indeed, the Tng army was defeated and dispersed. Visions of the spirits are clear and brilliant,
with not the slightest thing missing the mark.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], appointment as Nh, Nguyt Driving-Away-the-Enemy
Great King was made. In the fourth year [1288], the words Virtuously Protecting, Mightily
Courageous were also awarded.

41
42

See the tale of L Th,ng Kit.


Translation of K. W. Taylor.

51

L Phc Man
L Phc Man was reportedly a general of L Bn who rebelled against the L,ng (Liang)
dynasty in the 540s and briefly ruled as "Southern Emperor." In this story, L Phc Man
announces himself to King L Thi T [1009-1028] as having been posthumously assigned by
God to defend the realm against rebels and invaders; he lists a series of events from the eighth to
the tenth centuries in which he assisted rulers to maintain order, and he ends with a poem
suggesting that, although during those years his merit was hidden because there was no worthy
king (the metaphoric sun and moon as source of light) capable of acknowledging his work, King
L Thi T was such a king, and so his deeds could now be revealed. Thus, it appears that his
cult as a kingdom guardian spirit dates from the time of King L Thi T. There is also a story
about the Mongol invasion from Yunnan in the 1250s, when Mongol cavalry emerged from the
mountains in the area assigned to L Phc Man and were unsuccessful in campaigning in the
paddyfields of the lowlands; the Mongol retreat is here attributed to L Phc Man's intervention.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. King L Thi T founded the temple cult to L Phc Man after reporting a dream in which the
spirit appeared to him. What possible motives might the king have had in establishing this center
of worship?
2. Compare the biography of L Phc Man with that for the Tr,ng brothers. Both L Phc
Man and the Tr,ng brothers were supposed to have lived in the sixth century and participated
in the wars of that time, and both were posthumously assigned by God to protect localities from
disorder. Are there any significant differences between the two cults?

Testifying-to-Peace, Brilliantly Responding, Protecting the Country Duke


According to Thins Historical Records, the King was of the L line and was named Phc
Man. In the time of L Thi T [1009-1028], on the occasion of examining the region, the
emperor arrived at S B u. He gazed upon the rivers and mountains and saw their elegance,
longing to have an excursion in the lovely scenery. He was moved. He threw a glass of liquor
into the air as he intoned, I see that this land is wonderful and flourishing, very different from
other regions. If there be the immortal spirit of a heroic man here, take my brilliant offering!
That night, he dreamed he saw a supernatural figure. He was tall and large, portly and strong.
He had the face of a tiger and the beard of a dragon. His clothing was splendid and imposing.
His kerchief and shoes were clear and distinct. The figure kowtowed and made obeisance once
and then again, saying, I am a man from this village. I am of the L line and named Phc Man.
52

I assisted Southern Emperor L as a general, achieving fame for unbreakable loyalty. I was given
the two stretches of mountain and river43 in ng and ,ng Lm. The Di and Lo
submitted to me, and they dared not transgress. The region was held under guard. Then when I
died, God on High commended my loyalty, allowing me to keep my post as before. I ask to lay
out a couple of matters and intrude upon the holy ear. Long ago, when the ,ng were soon to
become kings,44 I often commanded spirit soldiers following Khu Ha to destroy the Ninh
Tr,ng Chn rebels at the mouth of the Gip Sn. In the time of ,ng Tc Tng [756-763], I
again destroyed the i Thc45 and Ba T,46 rebels at the mouth of the Thn Thch. In the time of
,ng i Tng [763-780], I again destroyed the Cn Ln47 and Ch V48 rebels at Chu Din.
And when King Cao49 destroyed the Nam Chiu [866], and First Lord Ng destroyed the
Southern Hn [939], and L i Hnh destroyed the Tng troops [981], each time troops were
sent to quell the enemy, I was in the secret realm of the sky commanding spirit soldiers in hidden
support. Every time I commanded them, they were successful. I have held spirit soldiers in
acceding to the orders of the Heavenly Emperor in destroying the Chams at Gip Sn. When I
died, my immortal spirit did not disintegrate. The villagers loved and respected me. They feared
not having anyone to defend and guard them so that Di and Lo plunderers could be stopped.
Therefore, they erected a temple to offer sacrifice to me. Consequently, I was able to have my
image made out dimly among the clouds. Whenever troops were used, I followed in the sky and
secretly assisted. When rebels and plunderers came in to steal, I always guarded against them.
Now I am fortunate to meet the radiant approaching50 of Your Majestys imperial chariot, and
have come specially to pay my respects. Saying this, the figure intoned the following poem:
When the world is concealed in darkness,
For a time, reputation and fame are hidden.
When in the sky are uncovered the sun and the moon,
Illustrious is my true form.

43

An allusion signifying land and country in general.


That is, just before 618, when the ,ng (Ch. Tang) dynasty rose to power.
45
Arabian.
46
Persian.
47
Malays.
48
That is, Java. We have followed Ngc H in reading these as Nm rather than as Hn (classical Chinese)
characters.
49
That is, Cao Bin; see the introduction to the tale of S Nhip.
44

53

The figure finished speaking and vanished. The emperor, unable to respond in time, awoke with
a start. He explained everything to those around him. Censor-in-Chief L,ng Vn Nhm said,
What the words of the spirit mean is that it wishes to be manifested by being set up in the form
of a statue. The sovereign ordered the arrangement of divinatory objects, and immediately there
was a response. He ordered the people of the province to erect a temple and craft a statue of the
spirit just as had been seen in the dream. The likenesses of the ancestors in the shrine rose in
ranks. The spirit was made the benevolent deity of the region.
In the Nguyn Phong era [1251-1258], the Tartars51 came in to pillage. Upon reaching this place,
their horses fell down and could not advance. The villagers always knew well the spirits power
and dispatched a band to fight against them. They beheaded a great many of the plunderers.
And so the enemy dispersed and ran, not daring to poke around the land again. With the
plundering enemy pacified, L Phc Man was appointed Testifying-to-Peace, Southern Country
Duke. An edict was issued making the entire village the Home Testifying to Peace.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], the northern plunderers again came in to pillage. Each
place was burned and laid to waste. But passing by this region, it was as if there was someone
defending and protecting it. Not the slightest thing was violated. Once the plundering enemy
had been pacified, L Phc Man was appointed Testifying-to-Peace King.
In the fourth year [1288], the words Brilliantly Responding were also granted. In the twentyfirst year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Protecting the Country were also granted. His
divine responsiveness is increasingly manifest.

50
51

An expression of respect used of a visitor.


Tht t, a reference to the Mongol invaders of the thirteenth century.

54

Commander-in-Chief L
This local cult appears to have been taken notice of by rulers during the Mongol invasion
of the 1250s when the king fled the capital down the river by boat and stopped to spend a night
near the temple of this spirit. The king reported a dream in which the spirit announced eventual
success against the invaders; the king then prayed for victory in the temple and his prayer was
subsequently answered. This was the spirit of an anonymous man who at some unknown time in
the past had drowned in the river. Such deaths were considered dangerous to living people
because the spirits of the deceased, without proper burial, could not rest and would roam in
search of prey to satisfy their hunger. According to this story, a young medium claiming to speak
the voice of the spirit announced a divine appointment as a local guardian deity, and a temple
was built.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. This story can be read as how a potentially dangerous "hungry ghost" was pacified by being
acknowledged as the local deity, and how the vicissitudes of war landed the king on the temple
doorstep for a night and led to royal patronage. Consider the possible operation of chance in
the story versus the possible affirmation of divine purpose amidst random events.
2. Consider the role of the snake in the temple and its connection with oath-taking. Why would
a snake be an appropriate deity to guarantee oaths?

Returning-to-Heaven, Unbreakably Loyal,


Majestically Militant, Assisting Obedience King
According to oral lore, the King was styled Commander-in-Chief L. It is not known under
which dynasty he lived. It is not known what his name was. When crossing a river, he met with
a violent wind and died. His immortal soul did not disintegrate. Often, amid the crisp breeze and
bright moon of the river, the sounds of laughter and speaking were heard. In the sky, it was as if
there was the sound of royal music. In the village, the dogs barked at night. The spirit entered a
vigorous young man who said to the villagers, I have received the appointment of God on High
to serve as the spirit of the mouth of the river. The people of the country were extremely
perplexed and afraid. They erected a temple for worship. On the middle day of each month,52
there was a snake with a yellow crest that came from deep within the river and curled up to lie in
the temple. The villagers honored it as the Oath-Receiving Benevolent Deity.

55

In the Nguyn Phong era [1251-1258], Tartar plunderers came in to pillage and take the capital.
The emperor departed in flight. Determining a favorable river current, he traveled and enjoyed
the scenery. He came here and anchored to stay the night. At night the spirit manifested itself in
a dream and announced to the sovereign, Your Majesty need not journey far. The sovereign
awoke and ordered a messenger to go up to the temple to burn incense and offer prayers. He
entreated that the plunderers turn back and not be allowed to reach the place. The result was just
as the spirit had said. The enemy was pacified. And so he was appointed Returning-to-Heaven
Spirit King.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], the words Unbreakably Loyal were also granted. In the
fourth year [1288], the words Majestically Militant were also granted.

52

That is, of the lunar month, when the moon is full.

56

Cao L
According to this story, Cao L was a general of King An D,ng, a semi-historical, semilegendary conqueror who built a citadel and founded a kingdom in what is now northern
Vietnam in the third century B.C.E. The tale in this text is about Cao L's appearance in the late
ninth century to the ,ng (Tang) general Cao Bin (Gao Pian, also called King Cao) in a
dream and his explanation of his death. The text also contains two poems by Cao Bin and two
by his assistant, Tng Cn (Zeng Gun), apparently inspired by the encounter.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. The discussion in this story of the compatibility and incompatibility of the golden chicken,
white ape, and gip-m o (it is no longer clear what this term means in this context) dragon
spirits is somewhat obscure for modern readers, but can plausibly be related to clan or totemic
identities and the political vicissitudes of alliances and enmities among people claiming these
identities. What is Cao L suggesting about the nature of the problem that led to his death? Are
there any such kind of problems to be seen in the world today?
2. The story conflates Cao L with the Dragon King who rules over the realm of water (rain,
rivers, the sea) and who is capable of protecting people travelling by boat. Both Cao Bin and
Tng Cn, who succeeded Cao Bin as the local governor, were from the north and their ability
to rule in this southern land depended on reliable water transport along the coast. Consider this
in the context of their poems, which place Cao L in an imperialized landscape blessed with the
benefits of association with northern dynasties.

Determinedly Bold, Unyieldingly Orthodox, Majestically Gracious King


According to the Records of Giao Ch as cited in Thins history,53 the King was named Cao
L and was a meritorious subordinate of King An D,ng [257?-179 B.C.E.]. He was commonly
called Commander L or called the Rock Spirit.
Long ago, King Cao pacified the Nam Chiu enemy [866] and used troops to patrol V Ninh
province. He reached the place and dreamed he saw a supernatural figure. His body stood nine
feet tall and his dress was proper and solemn. His manner of speech was stern and severe. His
hair was pinned up with a knife. He had a red stick and wore a belt. He said to King Cao, My
name is Cao L. Long ago, I assisted King An D,ng as a great general. I had great merit in
driving away the enemy. Afterwards, I served as a high official and was slandered by a great
53

Possibly the S K or Historical Records referred to elsewhere herein.

57

official and lord of Lc and killed. God on High pitied my loyalty and awarded me a stretch of
river and mountain to govern as campaign commander-general. Whenever thieving enemies
were quelled or punished, and in matters of sowing and reaping, I always managed these things
as if I were the benevolent deity of the region. Now I have again followed Your Excellency in
pacifying rebels and plunderers. The world is at great peace, and I have again returned to
headquarters. If I did not thank you, it would be unceremonious.
King Cao was taken aback and asked for what matter the lord of Lc despised him and which had
absurdly provided a pretext for slander. The figure said, Matters of the dark and obscure54 I am
not desirous of disclosing. King Cao questioned repeatedly, and the figure responded, King An
D,ng was a golden chicken spirit. The lord of Lc was a white ape spirit. I am a gip-m o
stone dragon spirit. Chicken and ape are mutually compatible. With dragon, they are each
mutually destructive. Therefore, it was as it was. He finished speaking and vanished.
King Cao awoke and spoke of this with his assistants. He joyfully intoned to himself,
How beautiful is the land of Giao province;
So has it been for a long time, ten thousand years.
Sages of yore can be encountered;
Now I am not ungrateful to the mind of spirit.
Then he said,
The Hundred Vit offered gifts to the empire;
The two Hns55 defined the mountains and rivers.
Divine spirits all assisted obediently;
The prospects of L ,ng have much prosperity.
Following this, Tng Cn praised King Cao, saying,
The mountains and streams of the Vit land are old;
54

A literary allusion to the underworld.

58

Persons of the ,ng house are new.


The man named Cao heard it had life-giving force,
In action and inaction informing the dragon spirit.
Then he said,
The southern countrys mountains and rivers are beautiful;
The dragon spirit meets with a divine land.
Giao province has ceased knitting its brows in pain;
From now on will be an age of peace.
Oral lore relates that on the i Than River is the cave-encampment of the Dragon King.56 It can
raise clouds and bring rain. It can rouse and make waves. Of the boats passing by, many find
themselves sunken. If people prepare ceremonial offerings first and go to pay their respects,
though amid the current they meet with wind and waves, they are safe and without problems.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Bold King. In the fourth year [1288],
the words Unyieldingly Orthodox were also granted. In the twenty-first year of H,ng Long
[1313], the words Majestically Gracious were also granted.

55
56

The Former (206 B.C.E.-25 C.E.) and Later Han (25-220) dynasties.
Here, apparently, Cao L.

59

SPIRITS FROM NATURE

60

The Lady God of the Earth


The Lady God of the Earth (Hu Th Phu Nhn) was a popular goddess who was
worshipped in parts of the ,ng (Tang) Empire [7th-9th centuries], and it is possible that her
cult spread to An Nam (northern Vietnam) with Cao Bin, who was famous for his interest in
earth spirits and whose sorcery teacher had specialized in this cult. According to the story in
this text, King L Thnh Tng encountered this spirit during his expedition against Champa in
1066; he believed this spirit insured safe passage of his army to and from Champa and helped
him to obtain victory. There is also a story here of how this spirit assisted King L Anh Tng
[1138-75] obtain rain in time of drought.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. The narration of the encounters between King L Thnh Tng and the spirit during his
expedition to Champa (storms, a dream, a search for a piece of wood, building a shrine, and
finally relocating worship of the deity to the royal capital) suggest a less-than-smooth process of
normalizing a marginal, exotic, possibly alien, being into the center of authority. What is the
role of the monk Hu Lm in this process?
2. In the "rain maiden" tale, the spirit appears to the king in a dream and introduces a spirit
skilled in making rain. To what extent can bureaucratic procedures in heaven be imagined as
comparable to how bureaucratic procedures at the royal court were theorized?

Responding-to-Heaven, Transforming and Sustaining Force,


Greatly Loyal, God of the Earth, Earth Deity Female Immortal
According to the Records Declaring the Ultimate, the Female Immortal was the Lord of the
Southern Country and Great Earth Spirit.
Long ago, L Thnh Tng [1054-1072] made a punitive expedition to the south against Champa.
He reached the Bay of Hon and suddenly met with violent winds and foul rains. The waves
rushed and roared. The imperial ship rocked to and fro, and they wanted to turn around. Danger
appeared unexpectedly. The emperor was in great fear. In his distress, the emperor suddenly
saw a woman of around twenty years of age. Her appearance was like that of a peach blossom.
Her brows were like willows, and her eyes like bright stars. Her smile was like a flower bud. On
her body she wore a white robe and green trousers. She had fastened a belt over her light
clothing. She came straight to the sovereign and explained, I am the great earth spirit of the
61

southern country.57 I have long been reborn to live in a place of water and clouds, watching and
waiting for a time at which to appear. Due to this opportune meeting and with the good reason of
having fortune to come upon the royal countenance, my entire lifes desire has truly been
satisfied. Yet I still wish that Your Majesty on this trip proceeds promptly and skillfully,
achieving complete victory. Although I am only sedge and willow58 and of light carriage, I hope
to contribute my trifling strength, secretly giving support. On the day of your triumphant return,
I will be waiting here to pay my respects. She finished speaking and vanished.
The sovereign awoke with both fear and joy. He summoned all his assistants and told of
everything he had seen in the dream. The general supervisor of monks, Hu Lm, said, The
spirit said it was reborn in a tree, living in a place of water and clouds. We should search for it in
a tree, in an area with divine efficacy. The sovereign assented to this and ordered men to search
all over the islets and riverbanks. They came up with a piece of timber very much resembling a
human figure and of the sort of shape and color formerly seen. Indeed, this was in agreement
with what had been seen in the dream. The sovereign, because of this, gave the spirit the title
Lady God of the Earth. He ordered the piece of timber put on a table and placed in the royal
ship. Suddenly, at just that moment, the waves desisted and the grass and trees ceased shaking.
Then, when the sovereign reached Champa and engaged in battle, it was as if there was the
support of a spirit. The battle was indeed a great victory.
On the day of triumphant return, the royal ship anchored at the former place. An order was
issued to erect a shrine. Again, there rose up wind and rain as before. Hu Lm petitioned, If
you invite the spirit to rest in the capital city, you will obtain your desire. The wind and rain
were calmed. They went north to arrive at the capital. Outside the city, construction was begun
on a temple in An L ng village. It has accumulated clear and wonderful signs. Those who
slander and curse immediately witness misfortune.
In the time of L Anh Tng [1138-1175], there was a great drought. The court officials asked
that a mound be built at Nam Giao59 to offer sacrifice to Heaven. They asked that the Female
Immortal serve as the lord of the altar. The Female Immortal appeared in a dream to the
57

Here, Champa.
An allusion to frail and weak people, often referring to women in general.
59
A large raised area at the south of the capital used for offering official sacrifices.
58

62

sovereign and said, The celestial headquarters has a spirit lord, Cu Mang, who is skilled in
making rain. The sovereign was delighted. A meeting was held and it was decided that the God
of Agriculture be charged with heaven and that the God of the Earth be charged with the land.
An altar was erected at Nam Giao and prayers were brought there. Indeed, there were copious
rains. The sovereign was delighted and issued an order that the Lady God of the Earth have the
spirit lord Cu Mang as lord of affairs of spring.
From then on, whenever the spring ceremony was held, an earthen cow was placed below the
temple.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], she was appointed God of the Earth, Earth Deity Female
Immortal. In the fourth year [1288], the words Greatly Loyal were added. In the twenty-first
year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Responding to Heaven, Transforming and Sustaining
Force were added.

63

The Spirit of Mount ng C


King L Thi Tng [1028-53] believed that this mountain spirit had assisted him to
achieve success in an expedition against Champa when he was Crown Prince. He built a temple
for this spirit at the royal capital, and, when the spirit reportedly appeared in a dream to warn
him of the treachery of three other princes who were preparing to contest his succession after his
father's death, he instituted at this temple an annual oath of loyalty to be taken by all his officers
and soldiers.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Modern readers may be inclined to draw a distinction between a spirit who was the personal
guardian deity of a particular prince/king and a spirit who was a more impersonal guardian
diety of a kingdom or particular locality. In later generations, this spirit, beyond being the
personal spirit of King L Thi Tng, was viewed more abstractly as a guardian deity for any
king ruling at H Ni, where its temple was located. Why might people in the time of King L
Thi Tng not be inclined to draw a distinction between a spirit who protects the king and a
spirit who protects the space under the rule of the king?
2. What indication in the story suggests that the spirit had a selfish reason for helping the prince
against Champa?

Oath-Receiving, Divinely Responding, Luminously Influential,


Guarding and Protecting Great King
According to the Records Declaring the Ultimate, the King was the spirit of Mount ng C.
Long ago, when L Thi Tng [1028-1054] was the heir-apparent, L Thi T [1009-1028]
ordered him to take an army to quell Champa. The army reached Tr,ng Chu and stopped to
rest for the night. At the third watch that night, in the dim light of the early dawn, a supernatural
figure suddenly appeared. He stood eight feet tall. His beard and eyebrows were like a halberd
with a crescent-shaped blade. His clothing was majestic and elegant and he wore martial dress.
In his hand he carried a weapon. He bowed to the ground, requesting permission to speak. He
petitioned, I am the lord of Mount ng C. Hearing that Your Highness is punishing the
south, and not shirking from difficulty and danger, I ask to follow the kings army and lend
divine support. Moreover, I can frighten and force the barbarians to submit, which will in a small
64

measure be an honorable achievement. Thi Tng was greatly delighted. He clapped his hands
and granted the figure permission. Startled, he awoke and saw it had been a dream.
The battle was indeed a great victory. Thi Tng returned victoriously to prepare ceremonial
offerings and convey his gratitude, and thereupon requested of his father that the spirit be brought
back to the capital to protect the country and assist the people. They looked everywhere for land
on which to erect a temple outside the imperial domains. They had yet to find an auspicious
place when, in the night, the spirit appeared in a dream to the sovereign requesting that he divine
the land in back of the Thnh Th temple on the right-hand side inside the great city wall. It was
said that this abode is clean and pure, quite flourishing and attractive to behold. The sovereign
examined this in detail, and because it was pre-ordained, he consented. Construction was begun,
and in scarcely a few days, completion was announced.
When Thi T died, Thi Tng succeeded to the throne. At night the Great King first appeared in
a dream to Thi Tng and announced, The three princes have long been inclined to rebel, and
they wish to mobilize armored soldiers. You should guard against them in the morning. You can
still escape the disaster to follow! The emperor awoke but still did not believe. When the sky
brightened, it was indeed as it had been shown in the dream. Thi Tng was greatly alarmed and
perplexed. He issued an edict investing the spirit as the Oath-Receiving Spirit of All Under
Heaven. The rank of Great King was added.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Divinely Responding Great King. In
the fourth year [1288], the words Luminously Influential were also granted. In the twenty-first
year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Guarding and Protecting were also granted.

65

The Spirit of Long


Long was a toponym for the Old Town of H Ni east of the Royal Palace and beside
the Hng River. This spirit appeared to the ,ng (Tang) General Cao Bin (Gao Pian} when
he rebuilt H Ni after the wars of the 860s. Considering it to be a potentially hostile spirit, Cao
Bin attempted to exorcise it; his efforts were defeated by the spirit and this becomes the reason
to explain why Cao Bin returned north and did not remain longer in the south. This is followed
by stories about how the spirit's temple (today the Bch M Temple on Hng Bum Street in H
Ni's Old Town) survived a wind storm in the time of L Thi Tng [1028-53] and three fires at
unspecified times.
Versions of this story became popular in Vietnamese nationalist lore during the twentieth
century because it told of how a "foreign" general was defeated and forced to depart by a
"Vietnamese" spirit, thus symbolizing what was imagined to be "the indomitable spirit of the
Vietnamese people to defeat invaders."
The story closes with a poem by Trn Quang Khi, one of the prince-generals who was
prominent in the Mongol wars of the thirteenth century; the poem assumes that the spirit had
helped to defeat the Mongol invasions.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Why did Cao Bin consider the spirit to be unfriendly or, at least, a problem? Why did his
failure to exorcise the spirit indicate that he would have to depart?
2. Historical records say that Cao Bin returned north because the emperor recalled him to deal
with rebellions elsewhere. He was one of the best generals in the empire and was in great
demand; he could not enjoy the luxury of passing time in a place already pacified. Being a man
of extraordinary achievement, he made a large reputation wherever he went, and stories were
told to explain his activities. Since Cao Bin was also famous as a sorcerer, how is this story an
appropriate explanation for his departure from the region?

Expansively Beneficial, Sacred Protector, Majestically Aiding,


Trusting and Responding Great King
Long ago, King Cao built the city wall of i La [c. 866].60 One day in the afternoon, he set off
by foot to go around and see the sights. He reached the east gate of the city and in an instant a
great mass of clouds and fog suddenly formed. He saw a five-colored auspicious vapor, and then
the ground bubbled up. There shot up a flash of star light that blinded the eyes. The frigid air
left him overawed. In the five colors there was an immortal mounted atop a fabulous dragon. On
66

his head he wore a red flower hat. His body was clad in a purple and bright rose-colored robe.
Below he had a thin silk garment and red shoes. He frisked carelessly amid the multi-colored
and brilliant fog. There was a strange aroma, fragrant and beautiful. An assortment of piped
instruments played, their music curling round and round fluidly, at times rising and at times
falling. This went on for about two quarters of an hour and came suddenly to an end. King Cao
was alarmed, thinking this was a sprite displaying a few weird divine powers, absurdly asking
humanity to pray to it. But he did not find this to be out of the ordinary.
Suddenly, in the night, while the King61 was sitting at rest and thinking as he dozed, he dreamed
he saw a man just like the one he had seen during the day. The man came before the King to
announce, I am the Long King Air Lord. Seeing you have just built a great mansion,
commencing to create a city, I have come especially to see it. Do not have doubts. King Cao
awoke. He held a meeting and sighed for a good while, saying, Have I not the ability to rule,
that ghosts have been caused to exceed their bounds? Is this auspicious? Is it inauspicious?
People beside him cautiously suggested that he erect a temple and craft statues, taking bronze and
iron with which to suppress the spirit.
King Cao followed their advice. Suddenly, violent wind and rain approached, bending trees and
kicking up sand, shaking houses and churning the earth. The bronze and steel were thrown out
and shattered into dust. King Cao restrained his anger as he said, I know I will have to return to
the north! And indeed, that is what happened.
L Thi Tng again built the capital here [1010]. In the eastern part of the city, markets were
expanded and opened.

Merchants and traders, with all their goods, bordered on the spirits

temple, making it excessively noisy. The emperor wished to move the temple to a quiet place,
but then he considered that it was erected there long ago, and could not now be moved. And so,
beams were raised along the long street, and separately a building was erected to make a place
for the spirits temple. In the night, the spirit manifested its divinity. A great northern wind blew
up, creating a fierce dust storm. Trees were uprooted and houses blown over. Everything on the
long street was overturned and crushed to the ground. Only the spirits temple still stood, like a
mountain, as before. Thi Tng was taken aback at this and made an inquiry as to the cause.
60

In the environs of modern H Ni.

67

There were those acquainted with the matter who told the story from beginning to end. The
sovereign heard this and said happily, This really is a spirit that manages affairs. He issued an
edict that ceremonial offerings be prepared and libations be offered. He issued an edict that at
spring in the new year, there be a custom of offering prayers for prosperity to the spirit. The
spirit was appointed Expansively Beneficial King.
Previously, the eastern part of the city was thrice lost to fire with violent winds. All became
ashes. The spirits temple alone was dignified. Not the tiniest thing was harmed.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], the words Sacred Protector were added. In the twentyfirst year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Trusting and Responding were also granted and the
spirit was promoted to the rank of Great King.
Senior Minister and Grand Preceptor Trn Quang Khi inscribed at the shrine,
Long ago people were heard saying the Great King is divine;
Now it is known that ghosts and goblins are afraid.
Flames broke out and were thrice expelled, burning but not consuming;
A storm of wind and dust fanned the temple but found it difficult to collapse.
It commands a crowd of three thousand spirits,
suppressing a million goblin soldiers.
By vowing to trust in its exceeding majesty, the northern plunderers were cleaned
away;
By bowing to its command, the universe enjoys an age of Great Peace.
To this day, the temple is eminent and imposing and has accumulated clear eminent divinity.

61

Here, Cao Bin.

68

The Spirit of Khai Nguyn


Khai Nguyn was the imperial reign title of the ,ng (Tang) dynasty during the years of
that dynasty's greatest power [713-741]. A Protector General at that time reportedly built a new
headquarters between the Old Town of H Ni, Long , and a village across a small river to
the west, T Lim, and he named it Khai Nguyn after the then-current imperial reign title. A
shrine was built and named Khai Nguyn, and inscriptions were engraved glorifying the reigning
emperor. In building a new town, it was necessary to propitiate the local spirit(s), so a temple
was built for the earth spirit of that place. In the thirteenth century, this temple became a
popular site for Buddhist meditation and for the relaxation of the royal clan. In the fourteenth
century, the site appears to have been abandoned and a new temple was built at another,
unknown, place called Quy B u.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. What does it tell us about the difference between modern nationalism and premodern modes
of thought that a spirit cult dedicated to the glory of the empire of which this place was but a
remote frontier should continue to be honored by local kings in later centuries and was thought
to have assisted in resisting northern invaders?
2. Consider the various activities conducted at the site of this cult: prayers, incense, Buddhist
meditation, sightseeing, relaxation. And consider the statement indicating an awareness of the
vicissitudes of passing time: "stars moved and changed, clouds came and went, and rivers
flowed." How cautious should we be about making definitive statements about the past?

Khai Nguyn Majestically Manifesting,


Abundantly Setting Forth, Loyally Militant Great King
In the time of ,ng Khai Nguyn [713-742], the governor of Qung province, L, Ng,, served
as protector general of our Nam Giao.62 He resided in An Vin village, between the two subprefectures of Long and T Lim. He saw that the land there was flat, level, and expansive.
Trees were spread about luxuriously. Beyond, the place reached to the Gi La River. The
beautiful scenery was lovely to behold, and so he oversaw the construction of a town and the
founding of a shrine there. Within was established the divine seat of Lao-tzu.
At night, he dreamed there was a white-haired old man who announced, This shrine should be
named the Khai Nguyn shrine. This village should also be named Khai Nguyn village. The
69

protector general complied with this. He himself erected engraved steles in order to make
manifest the merit of the Khai Nguyn Son of Heaven. Next he erected a temple displaying the
statue of the local earth spirit in order to make known its majesty and virtue. This temple was
ordered named the Gi La shrine. Prayers were immediately answered. The incense was not
extinguished.
Early in the Trn Thiu Long era [1258-1273], the monk Vn Tho expanded and rebuilt the
temple, turning it into the An D,ng pagoda.

Thereafter, Buddhist priests and meditators

gathered there and men and women came there to visit the scenic place and cool themselves off.
Wheels and hooves packed the road. Still, the stars moved and changed, clouds came and went,
and rivers flowed. Since then, the temple has been moved to Quy B u.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Khai Nguyn Majestically Manifesting
Great King. In the fourth year [1288], the words Abundantly Setting Forth were also granted.
In the twenty-first year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Loyally Militant were also granted.

62

Southern Giao, apparently a reference to Giao Chu or the province of Giao.

70

The Spirit of Ph ng
This is the earth spirit of Ph ng village, a few miles northeast of H Ni, where the
Kin S Buddhist Temple is located. In the ninth century, this temple was a thriving center for
Buddhist teaching; a Buddhist monk eventually built a shrine for the earth spirit, considering it
to be a spirit that supported the Buddhist religion. When the monk a Bo came to reside at the
temple in the late tenth century, he believed that the shrine of the earth spirit had become a
center for demon worship, and he was about to destroy it when a pair of poems miraculously
appeared representing an appeal to the spirit to become a guardian spirit of Buddhism, and the
spirit's reply responding positively to the appeal.
The rest of the story is about visits to the temple by King L Thi T [1009-1028]. L
Thi T had been raised and educated by Buddhist monks in a temple of a neighboring village
and was famous for his devotion to Buddhism. He and a Bo were acquainted before he
became king, and, after taking the throne, he came to pay a visit. When a Bo called on the
spirit to salute the new king, a poem appeared representing the voice of the spirit praising L
Thi T. The king responded by having new statues made for the shrine and, when they were
dedicated, another poem appeared. The meaning of this poem was hidden in puns and riddles
that prophesied that the L dynasty, of which L Thi T was the first king, would reign for eight
generations and would be extinguished when the sun appeared over the mountain; the name of
the last king of the L dynasty was written with a character composed of the character for sun
above the character for mountain.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. a Bo reformed the earth spirit by enrolling it as a guardian deity for the Buddhist temple in
the village and, by extension, for the Buddhist religion in general. Why was it important for
Buddhist priests such as a Bo to establish good relations with the earth spirit where their
temple was located? What does this imply about the relation between Buddhism and local spirit
worship?
2. The poem prophesying the future of King L Thi T's dynasty fixes a term after which the
dynasty would end. The story dates from the dynasty that followed the L dynasty. Why would a
poem like this be important for a dynasty in reference to the preceding dynasty?

Soaring-to-Heaven, Eminently Courageous, Luminously Responding,


Majestic and Trusted Great King
According to the Records Declaring the Ultimate and lore passed down over the generations, the
King was the incarnation of the local earth spirit of the Kin S pagoda.

71

Long ago, the Buddhist priest Ch Thnh resided at the Kin S pagoda. In Ph ng village he
erected a house for the local earth spirit to the right side of the pagoda gate. It served as a clean
place at which to recite prayers.

Years and months went by, and the buildings gradually

disappeared. Having lost its old form, spiritual truth-seekers and meditators had no way to
authenticate the place. The local people were fond of ghosts, burning incense and bringing
prayers there. They improperly called it a temple of obscenity.
After some time, the meditation master a Bo repaired the Buddhist pagoda. Considering the
temple a temple of obscenity, he wished to destroy it. One day on a tree at the spirits temple,
there was seen a prayer of eight lines which read,
Whoever can protect the Buddha dharma,
Be a pillar consenting to dwell in the Buddhas garden.
If not of our seed,
Be soon removed forthwith to another place.
If you do not enroll in the Kim C,ng Department63
With Mt Tch64 and Na La Din65,
The masses, who are like the dust that fills the air,
Will serve the Buddha only to bring about oppression and error.
Another day, after the prayer there appeared the spirits response in a poem of eight lines that
read,
The Buddha dharma is greatly compassionate,
Its majestic light covering the world.
The ten thousand spirits all face it and are transformed;
The three divisions of the world completely return and revolve around it.
My teacher carries out the order;
63

A department or class of Buddhist deities. The Kim C,ng (literally, diamond) Department is charged with
providing the creative power of the Buddha, and can destroy (metaphorically, like diamond) bad destinies.
64
From the Sanskrit Vajrapni, a deity charged with supporting the Buddha dharma. This deity is said to carry a
diamond pestle with which to strike the wicked and turn them into dust.

72

What demon dares come first?


Desirous of always according with Buddhist discipline,
Old and young guard the Buddhas garden.
The priest was taken aback at this and again had an altar set up to keep the Buddhist precepts and
to make regular penance.
When L Thi T [1009-1028] was a hidden dragon,66 he knew of a Bos high virtue, and
together they made offerings. Once he had accepted the throne, he went on an excursion to visit
the pagoda. The Buddhist priest greeted his carriage. Passing by the side of the pagoda, the
priest raised his voice and asked, Son of Buddha! Can you naturally congratulate the new Son of
Heaven? The response was seen in four lines on the bark of the tree:
The emperors virtue is as great as the heavens and the earth;
His prestige calms the eight boundaries.
Those in gloom and darkness receive favor,
So inundated they are given to soar to heaven.
Thi T gazed on and recited this. He knew well its meaning and awarded the spirit the title
Soaring-to-Heaven Spirit King. The writing suddenly vanished. The sovereign was amazed at
this. He ordered laborers to fashion a statue of the spirit, eminent and lofty in appearance, as
well as eight painted statues of attendants. Completion was announced, and again below the
great tree there was seen a poem of four lines that read,
A bowl of merit and virtue water,
According with destiny, transforms the world.
Brightly, how brightly and repeatedly shines the torch;
The image is extinguished as the sun mounts the mountain.

65

From the Sanskrit Nryana, a mighty deity said, like Mt Tch, to carry a weapon of diamond. Buddhist temples
in Vietnam often feature, on either side, two deities of the class of those bearing diamond weapons. Plausibly, Mt
Tch and Na La Din were the two such deities at Kin S.
66
A classical expression implying the time L Thi T had yet to become king.

73

The priest took this hymn and presented it. Thi T did not understand what it said. Afterwards,
the L dynasty had eight generations before ceding the throne to the Trn. The word bowl and
the word eight sound the same. One times eight is eight. L Hu Tong [1210-1224]67 was
named Sam, and thus it was said that The sun mounts the mountain. The poems divine
mystery is such as this.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], appointment as Eminently Courageous Great King was
made. In the fourth year [1288], the words Luminously Responding were also granted. In the
twentieth year of H,ng Long [1312], the words Majestic and Trusted were also granted.

67

The last of the L kings, according to traditional interpretations.

74

The Mountain Spirit and the Water Spirit


This story is about the rivalry between the Mountain Spirit and the Water Spirit and is
commonly understood as a metaphor for the monsoon rains and the struggle against flooding. It
is set in the age of the mythical Hng Kings and the context of finding a suitable husband for a
royal princess. Reference to "the King of Thc" is ominous because, according to legend, the
last Hng King was overthrown by a conqueror whose surname was Thc; a premonition of this
is apparent from the advice given to the Hng King to find a local husband for his daughter
rather than the King of Thc, who would use the marriage only to spy on their land in
preparation for an attack.
The Mountain Spirit and the Water Spirit are introduced as friends who become enemies
when only one of them can marry the princess. The Mountain Spirit married the princess and
took her to live on a mountain peak. Subsequently, every year the Water Spirit besieged the
mountain during the monsoon rain season.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Judging from this story, what were the qualities desired in a royal son-in-law? Why do you
think these qualities were important?
2. This story can be read as a way to explain a natural phenomenon: the monsoon rains. Do
you think this is a plausible way to understand the story? Are there other possible meanings for
the story? What elements of the story indicate such optional readings?

Tn Vin Protecting Sacredness, Saving the Country,


Manifesting Divinity68 and Responding King
According to Duke Tngs Records of Giao Ch, the King was the Mountain Spirit, who enjoyed
friendship with the Water Spirit. The Mountain Spirit resided hidden at Gia Ninh cave in Phong
province.
King Hng had a daughter named M N,ng, who was of excellent appearance, having the
beauty to fell cities.69 The king of Thc sent an emissary to request a marriage. King Hng was

68

The A.751 text has drawn a circle around the character linh (divine), probably to identity it as incorrect. To
omit the character would correspond with the title awarded in 1288; however, as the character has been left intact in
the text, we offer it here.
69
A classical expression signifying great beauty.

75

about to allow this when a great minister and lord of Lc disagreed, saying, They are only
spying on our country! King Hng feared this would create a rift in relations.
The lord of Lc said, Your Great Majestys land is expansive and the people numerous. I
beseech you to grant her to he who has strange talents and extraordinary abilities, making him
your son-in-law. First arrange your troops to wait in ambush. It is needless to imagine anything
better. And so King Hng broke things off with Thc. Everywhere in the country those having
extraordinary abilities were sought for. The King and the Water Spirit both responded to the
search. King Hng ordered them examined. The King70 could penetrate jade and stone. The
Water Spirit could enter water and fire. They manifested their divine powers equally well. King
Hng was greatly pleased. He told the lord of Lc, The two gentlemen are both worthy
matches. I have only one daughter; which of the two virtuous men shall be chosen? The lord of
Lc said, Your Majesty should agree with them that whoever comes to marry her first shall be
granted her hand. King Hng consented to this. Each was bidden to return and prepare the
ceremonial offerings.
The King returned home over the night to bring local products, gold and silver, beautiful girls,
rhinoceroses, and elephants.

There were also rare birds and beasts, all numbering in the

hundreds. By sunrise the next day, he had already made his presentations to King Hng. The
king71 was greatly pleased and thereby granted M N,ng in marriage. The King72 met her in
person and brought her back to live on Mount Li.
That evening, the Water Spirit also prepared aquatic products, pearls, tortoise shells, valuables,
and coral. There were great and fine fish as well, also numbering in the hundreds. The Water
Spirit reached the imperial city to set out and present his offerings. Seeing M N,ng had
returned to be with the King, the Water Spirit was very angry, leading a mob to pursue them and
wanting to reduce Mount Li to pieces.

70

That is, the Mountain Spirit.


Here, King Hng.
72
Here, again the Mountain Spirit.
71

76

The King moved to reside at the peak of Mount Tn Vin.73 And so later generations were made
enemies with the Water Spirit. Each year, he brought autumn rains to strike Tn Vin. The
people on the mountain together built a palisade for assistance, and the Water Spirit could not
violate it. The Kings divine traces are extremely numerous. It is not possible to recount them
completely.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Protecting Sacredness King. In the
fourth year [1288], the words Saving the Country were also awarded. And additionally the
words Manifesting Responsiveness were granted.

73

A tall mountain in northern Vit Nam, in the province of Vnh Phc.

77

The Local Earth Spirit of ng Province


This was the earth spirit of ng Province, located along the Hng River about halfway
between H Ni and the sea. King L Hon (also known as L i Hnh) [980-1005] assigned
the provinces of his kingdom as fiefs to his many sons, and he assigned ng province to his fifth
son, L Long nh, who received the title of Khai Minh Prince. Three days after L Hon died
and was succeeded by his third son, L Trung Tng, in 1005, the Khai Minh Prince killed the
new king, his elder brother, and seized the throne for himself. After he died in 1009, historians
gave him the name L Nga Triu, which means "he of the L clan who lay down in court,"
referring to the illness that afflicted this king before his death, which was thought to have been
brought on by his excessive habits, through which he lost the mandate to rule and became a "last
bad ruler," thereby justifying a change of dynasty.
The extraordinary power of the earth spirit of his fief is posed in this story as the
explanation of how it was that he was able to murder his elder brother and become king. The
story includes an episode in which the prince encounters the spirit and begins to patronize the
spirit's shrine, and then how the spirit appeared to him in a dream to encourage him to seize the
throne, although the reference to five years can be read as an indication of the shortness of his
reign. The story ends with a poem of praise.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. The earth spirit is initially experienced by and explained to the prince as a deity who controls
rain. ng province is a completely flat plain with nothing but rice fields. Why would such a
spirit be appropriate for such a place?
2. After awakening from the dream, although he did not understand all the meaning of what the
spirit had said, the prince resolved to kill his brother and seize the throne. What might be
imagined as the meaning of the last two lines in referring to "another principle" and movement
at "heaven's limit"? Is this a suggestion of something beyond conventional morality (which
would be against killing the king/elder brother) and was the prince avoiding drawing such an
explicit message by acting on it while claiming to "not understand" it?

Opening Heaven, Guarding the Country,


Loyally Supporting, Aiding and Assisting Great King
According to Thins Historical Records, the King was the local earth spirit of ng
province.
When King L Nga Triu [1005-1009] was still known as the Khai Minh Prince, he had a fief in
ng. He often came to its villages, going out to see all the beautiful places. One day, suddenly,
78

the bright sun went dark. Clouds and mist appeared, dark and foggy. Wind and rain violently
arrived. He searched for a place to anchor his boat and escape. Seeing a spirit temple atop a
mountain peak, he asked the villagers, What temple is this? The villagers responded, This is
the spirit temple of the old local earth spirit of ng province. The prince said, Is it divine?
They responded, This is the object of trust and reliance for the province. Prayers for rain and
clear skies immediately witness a divine response. The prince thus shouted out in a high voice,
If you are really divine, if you are able to drive away the wind and rain, make this side of the
river rain and the other side clear. Then I will believe in your possession of divine efficacy. He
finished speaking, and indeed one half of the river had wind and one half of the river had rain.
The prince escaped getting his clothes wet and was greatly amazed at this. He ordered the temple
repaired. At that time, people, because of this, sang and chanted. They sang,
How beautiful is the Great Kings weighty majestic divinity!
The land of ng province entrusts its security to it.
Driving away and instructing wind and rain to not violate,
One bank pours, the other bank is clear.
The prince heard this and arrogantly thought he had received the blessing of Heaven. When the
emperor died, L Trung Tng [1005] acceded to the throne. His younger brother, L Long
nh,74 plotted for the throne. He visited the temple and prayed for a vision in a dream. In a
dream he saw there was a supernatural figure intoning,
If you want victory, you can be victorious;
If you want to succeed, you can be successful.
The people of the region all obediently submit;
The realm is granted great peace.
In five years of contentment,
Personally dedicate statues in seven shrines.
At this time, behold the other principle;
At Heavens limit, gaze upon the journey of the roc75.
74

Here, the Khai Minh Prince and future King L Nga Triu is referred to by his personal name, L Long nh.
A classical allusion to the long journey of a giant mythical bird, used figuratively of those who early attain success
in pursuing their ambitions.
75

79

When he had awoken, he still did not understand the meaning of this. He was resolved in his will
to murder his lord and rebel.
Once he had attained the throne, he raised the status of ng province to Thi Bnh prefecture.
The spirit was appointed Opening Heaven, City Guardian Deity Great King.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], it was appointed Opening Heaven, Guarding the
Kingdom, City Guardian Deity Great King. In the fourth year [1288], the words Loyally
Supporting were also granted. In the twenty-first year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Aiding
and Assisting were added.
L L,ng Thi, from around ng Kh, had a poem which read,
With Heaven and Earth founded and created, the great task is completed;
Stoutly are manifested the names Supporting, Assisting of ng province.76
The Earth is pregnant in heart and mind with uprightness of conduct;
Heaven brings together ears and eyes to be quick of apprehension.
How lofty the ardent militance that forces the heavenly spirits77 to submit!
So splendid the refined glory that makes a hundred demons fear!
With imposing and frightful thunder, the gentleman has a sympathetic purpose;
Blown through the air, an auspicious breath makes known heroic fame!

76

We have chosen to read this line as making direct reference to the titles awarded the spirit in the previous passage.
One might also read this line as Strongly manifested is the supporting and assisting name of ng province.
77
In the A.751 text, the character
thin (thousand) has been written beside the homonym
(heaven
or heavenly). An alternate reading would thus be . . . that forces a thousand spirits to submit.

80

The Chief Earth Magistrate and the Rock Noble


Bch Hc is a short distance upriver from H Ni. It was the usual headquarters for
commanders charged with guarding the routes connecting the lowlands with the upland valleys.
Soldiers were customarily garrisoned here. In terms of water transport, it is also strategic, as
described in the story, since it is the one place where major rivers from the mountains join
before branching off to different parts of the lowland plains.
This spirit cult dates from a ,ng (Tang) governor in the seventh century who built an
elaborate temple, erected a statue for a spirit that would protect the realm, and then called on
local spirits to appear to him in the form of the statue. Two spirits responded, arriving as
military leaders accompanied by their armies jostling for first place; they used their magic to
compete and the one with the greater powers was invited to occupy the chief place in the temple.
The story includes indications of suppressing the worship of demonic ghosts, often used in texts
as a metaphor for "uncivilized" people in the mountains. The story says that armies sent on
campaign in the mountains always stopped at the temple to ask for divine assistance. Such a
practice was still being followed in the early fourteenth century, as is revealed by the poems of
Nguyn S Hi and V,ng Thnh V that are appended to the story.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Here is what appears to be a case of a spirit cult being purposely invented by rulers to sustain
their military operations. Ritual prayers at the temple prior to entering the mountains gave to
soldiers an expectation of divine protection. Are there analogous procedures used by
governments today to nurture courage among people trained to enter danger?
2. In the contest between the two spirits, what quality of the Earth Magistrate enabled it to
prevail over its rival? What is implied in distinguishing between jumping someplace and already
being there?
Loyally Assisting, Militantly Supporting,
Majestically Manifesting King
According to the Records of Giao Province of Duke Triu,78 the King was originally the Chief
Earth Magistrate.
In the time of ,ng Vnh Huy [650-656], L Th,ng Minh was serving as governor of Giao
province. He saw this land was level and expansive, and that there were a thousand miles of
rivers and mountains. There is a strategic place where a three-way fork in the Bch ng River

78

Triu X,ng [Zhao Chang], protector general in the Red River delta from 791 to 806.

81

meets a three-way fork in the Bch Hc River. The Thng Linh shrine79 was built there. Statues
of the Three Purities80 were displayed, and there were separately opened, in front, two buildings.
Laborers were ordered to craft a statue of the Realm-Protecting Spirit.
When the statue was finished, Th,ng Minh prepared ceremonial offerings and burned incense
as he invoked, If there be spirits here who are divine and extraordinary, hasten to announce
yourselves in a dream, appearing like the image of the statue. Only then will my simple heart be
comforted. That night, he saw two extraordinary figures. Their beards and eyebrows were as
painted, their handsomeness refined and elegant. Their followers arrived by the score, each
holding waymarks, flags and drums, flutes, piped instruments, and large bells. They laughed at
and incited one another, quickly running in broad, unhurried strides and contended to occupy the
front building. Th,ng Minh asked their names. One proclaimed himself the Earth Magistrate.
One proclaimed himself the Rock Noble. Th,ng Minh asked the two men to test their magical
skills. Whoever won would occupy the front. The Rock Noble responded at the sound of these
words by jumping in a single leap over to the other bank of the river. But he saw that the Earth
Magistrate was on the other riverbank first. The Rock Noble again jumped in a single leap back
over to the original side of the river. Again he saw the Earth Magistrate was on the original side
of the river first. Thereupon the Earth Magistrate was allowed to occupy the front.
In that area, there was a habit of being fond of ghosts. On seeing the majestic and stern spirit
statues, the people were all afraid. Whenever there was occasion for repentance or suspicion,
everyone came to the temple to pray and beg for supernatural signs, and saw divine responses. It
became the benevolent deity of the region. Incense has not been extinguished.
Military commanders of successive dynasties, accepting orders to quell rebels in the upriver part
of the Tam Giang81 region, all prepared the imperial insignia and the appearance of the troops to
visit the temple and pay their respects. Many received mysterious assistance and secret help.

79

Specifically, a qun, or Daoist shrine.


Tam Thanh, that is, the Daoist trinity.
81
Meaning Three Rivers.
80

82

In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], he was appointed Loyally Assisting King. In the fourth
year [1288], the words Militantly Supporting were also granted. In the twenty-first year of
H,ng Long [1313], the words Majestically Virtuous were also awarded.
It is thought that Nguyn S Hi, a reader at the Hn Lm Academy, accompanied the royal
carriage on a punitive expedition to the west against Ai Lao.82 He followed the army and
prepared ceremonial offerings to pay a visit at the temple. He had a poem which read,
With tortoise amulet and fish seal suspended from the waist,
I pray this affair be committed to the military officers.83
A thin inadequate scholar without expectations
respectfully approaches the bottom of the temple to beg for peace and safety.
Reader V,ng Thnh V accompanied the royal carriage on a punitive expedition to the west
against the Di and Lo. Upon the victorious return, he was ordered to write a poem for a
procession to thank the spirit which read,
With brave warriors are made a million expansions of kingly spirit;
They put down with authority towns beyond the Vn Nam84 border.
Tiny Giang T85 how does it merit being admired?
At the sound of the wind, the crane weeps and frightened are the Tn86 troops.

82

Probably referring to peoples in the environs of modern Laos and/or the mountainous area separating Vietnam
from Laos today.
83
That is, that the Vietnamese military officers will be given victory in the battle to come.
84
Yunnan province in China.
85
Jiang Zuo, at the left bank of the Yangtze River in China.
86
The ancient Chinese state of Qin (221-206 B.C.E.).

83

The Benevolent Deity of the Kingdom-Protecting Shrine


This story is set amidst the events of the warfare of the 860s, when the mountain kingdom
of Nam Chiu (Nan Zhao) expelled ,ng (Tang) armies and established a regime of plunder in
the lowlands. After the first ,ng general sent to retake the region (Tr,ng ip) was unable
to advance, the emperor sent Cao Bin. Rather than advancing overland, Cao Bin embarked
his troops and achieved the advantage of surprise by arriving by sea. The story says that, when
Cao Bin rebuilt H Ni, the spirit, an earth deity, appeared to him in response to his prayer for
supernatural assistance. Cao Bin built a temple for this spirit beside his government palace
and it subsequently became a center of popular worship. Here again we see reference to Cao
Bin's reputation as an adept of the occult arts and his success in calling up local spirits to help
him in his affairs.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Why does the story include the unedifying details about the emperor's anger toward Cao
Bin's predecessor? How does it prepare the entrance of Cao Bin into the story?
2. Notice the words of the spirit to Cao Bin. What do they imply about the relation between
good government and morality, between rebels and demons?

Virtuously Protecting, Divinely Responding, Manifesting Militance Duke of the Realm


According to written accounts, the Duke was originally the benevolent deity of the KingdomProtecting Shrine.
Long ago, when our land of Vit belonged to ,ng, the Nam Chiu came in to pillage. They
overwhelmed the districts and villages, expelling the ,ng protector general, and divided their
troops to hold the area by encampments. The people of the country urgently informed ,ng.
Emperor ,ng Tng [860-874] sent Tr,ng ip to serve as general in command of fifty
thousand troops to quell them. Tr,ng ip knew the barbarian troops were legion, and he was
forced to loiter about, not daring to advance. Tng was furious and ordered Cao Bin to bring
them to submission. Bin knew that the Bch Hc water way to the sea had barbarian troops
obstructing and guarding it, so he had a thousand boats of floating skins fashioned. Crossing the
sea, he entered Hi Thanh and the two harbors of i Nha and Tiu Nha straight away.

84

Once he had arrived, Giao province had its chief town situated in this place. Bin was skilled in
the magical arts. Once he had built the town, he poured out a libation of liquor upon the ground
and prayed for mysterious assistance. At the third watch of the night, he suddenly heard in the
sky a spirit saying,
If you wish to succeed in public affairs,
You must inquire into the cause of morality.
If you are able to command the demons and have them all respond correctly,
The rebel gangs will all come to submit.
Bin was greatly pleased, and so he built the Palace of the Way, establishing it to serve as the
palace of the protectorate. To the left, a temple for the earth deity was built beside the palace. It
was intended to be kept merely for its beauty, but people thereafter sacrificed to it as a
benevolent deity.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], appointment as Virtuously Protecting Duke of the Realm
was made. In the fourth year [1288], the words Divinely Responding were also granted. In the
twenty-first-year of H,ng Long [1313], the words Manifesting Beauty were also awarded.

85

The Fire Dragon Spirit Lord


This spirit was born from an adulterous union between the wife of the Southern Sea
Dragon King and the Fire Dragon; its mother abandoned it to the sea currents and then
appeared to the fishermen who retrieved it to explain to them what they had found. The
fishermen built a temple and erected an image to worship it. Later, the descendents of these
fishermen were so successful in harvesting pearls that the king made inquiries, learned the whole
story, and instituted royal patronage of the spirit, which resulted in obtaining even more pearls.
The theme of infanticide, in this case of abandoning a child born out of wedlock, and of
the spirit of the child needing to be propitiated with worship to prevent it becoming a "hungry
ghost" lies behind the plot of this story. Unlike the other stories, this story is not fixed by dates
and reference to historical figures. Reference to the Dragon King who lives in the sea resonates
with a tangle of myths about the origin of kings in antiquity that appear to have been put into
writing after this text was compiled. In the scheme of five elements (earth surmounts water,
water douses fire, fire melts metal, metal cuts wood, wood rises above earth) that was familiar to
the compiler, water takes precedence over fire, so the fathering of a child by the Fire Dragon
with the wife of the Sea Dragon represents an act subversive of the natural order. Such acts,
however, were sometimes understood as able to produce incredibly powerful effects that could
be imagined as in some measure redemptive.
Possible classroom discussion themes:
1. Why did this seemingly anonymous and nondescript spirit attain the status of being a receiver
of royal patronage? Of what value was it to kings?
2. The story endeavors to describe the object found by the fishermen without indicating anything
very recognizable. Does the shape, size, color, sound, and behaviour of the object suggest
something definite? Perhaps an infant or small child?

Beneficially Relieving, Divinely Mediating, Graciously Believing King


It has been passed down over the generations that the King was the Fire Dragon Spirit Lord.
Long ago, there were men from Kiu H n in Hng province who were of the ng line. The
elder brother was called Quyt Minh. The younger brother was called Thin X. The two men
made their living by catching fish. At that time they usually went to sea to seek fish, and once
they came upon a strange object something in the shape of a piece of tree. It was about a yard in
length and its color was like that of a birds egg. It floated with the current atop the water. The
two men picked it up to take it back.

86

When night came, they suddenly heard a sound from the inside of the object. It was indistinct,
something like the reeds of a piped instrument or a human sound wanting to speak but unable to.
The two men were frightened and dumbfounded. They let the object loose in the current and
went to another boat, where they asked to stay for the night.
In the deep of the night, they were sleeping soundly when they dreamed they saw a figure saying,
You brothers do not know who I am, so I have come to tell you. I am a wife of the Southern Sea
Dragon King. I made the mistake of having intercourse with the Fire Dragon, and from this gave
birth to a child. I feared that the Eastern Sea Lord87 would learn about this, and so I have
appeared in a dream to tell you. The tree followed alongside the boat. The two men were
surprised by this, and so they loaded it aboard to take it back with them. When they reached the
shore at An K and An Gip, the tree suddenly jumped from inside the boat onto the shore. The
two men wished to leave it there. They asked for a supernatural sign, and indeed were answered.
They erected a temple and ordered carpenters to carve a statue with which to worship the spirit as
it had commanded. It was called the Dragon Lord.
Some time later, the court sent officials to recruit people to go out to sea in search of pearls.
Only people of the ng family were able to catch very many. The officials inquired as to the
reason for this. The ng line gathered all the facts and reported them. The officials returned to
report to the emperor. The sovereign ordered the ceremonial guard and musicians to carry the
spirits statue in procession, and as a result, a great many pearls were found. For this reason, it
was bestowed the title Spirit Pearl Dragon King.
In the first year of Trng H,ng [1285], it was appointed Beneficially Relieving Dragon King. In
the fourth year [1288], the words Divinely Mediating were added. In the twenty-first-year of
H,ng Long [1313], the words Graciously Believing were also added. Its divine responsiveness
is increasingly manifest.

87

Quite possibly a mistake for Southern Sea Lord, which would correspond to the title of the spouse mentioned
above.

87

Slide Images
(All slides are from amateur photos taken by the translators in 1998)

1. The temple of the Rock Noble, Chi Ct village, about 30 miles northwest of H Ni. This
restored temple was completed in 1996 after the former site had fallen for many years into
disrepair.

2. Ceremonial weapons in the temple of


Phng H,ng, about 25 miles northwest of
H Ni. Weapons such as these are often
placed before the altar of the chief deity at
Vietnamese spirit temples. Calling to
mind the power of the spirit, they are used
in formal celebrations and parades for the
spirits.

88

3. Relief of an elephant with empty saddle next to the entrance to the temple of the Tr,ng
sisters, Ht Mn village, about 30 miles northwest of H Ni beside a site where the sisters are
reputed to have staged a large battle. In popular lore, the Tr,ng sisters mounted elephants
when they went into battle, though the present text does not mention this detail.

4. Altar to the Tr,ng sisters in the interior of the temple at Ht Mn. Worshippers have richly
decorated the altar with gold vases, incense, flowers, candles, flags, umbrellas, fine cloths, and
other offerings. Worship is often performed directly in front of such an altar.
89

5. Mists on the ascent to the temple of the Mountain Spirit near the peak of Mount Tn Vin,
about 35 miles northwest of H Ni. Travel to the temple is difficult even today with the luxury
of a dirt road accessible to motorcycles. In earlier times, visiting the temple took a long
pilgrimmage by foot through cliffs and mists (often associated with divine beings in Vietnam)
that could limit visibility to a few yards. The effect of such a journey was to create a sense of
leaving the human world below while one slowly entered the realm of gods.

6. Entrance to the temple at Ph ng village, northeast of H Ni.


90

7. Statues of dragons flanking the entrace to the temple at Ph ng. Dragons symbolized
royalty and power, and images of dragons occur frequently in the present text.

8. The Nh, Nguyt River northeast of H Ni, site of L Th,ng Kits defeat of Tng (Song)
Chinese troops in 1076. The river bank lies just a few score yards from the temple to worship
Tr,ng Hng, where villagers believe the famous poem The Southern Mountains and Rivers
to have first been uttered. Note the flat terrain of the area; nearly all of the spirit cults
described in the present text originated in the lowlands of the Red River delta.
91

9. Interior of the temple of Tr,ng Hng,


Nh, Nguyt village, northeast of H Ni.
Compare this shrine to that at the temple of
the Tr,ng sisters. Here, an enthroned statue
of the spirit commands worshippers
attention. The text attests to the power
believed to reside in statues of the deities,
which were carried in ritual processions.
Ceremonial weapons, like those pictured at
the temple of Phng H,ng, lie in front of
this altar as well and add to the atmosphere
of martial power invested in the spirit.

10. Altar to fallen soldiers of Nh, Nguyt


village in the Second and Third
Indochina Wars, as well as the border
war with China in 1979, placed to the
right side of the altar to Tr,ng Hng.
Not pictured here, to the left of the
central altar to Tr,ng Hng, is a bust of
H Ch Minh similarly surrounded with
flowers and incense. With these smaller
shrines, villagers have drawn a link
between the political and military
struggles of their own day and those of
the past.

92

Suggestions for Further Reading


OHarrow, Stephen. Men of Hu, Men of Han, Men of the Hundred Man. Bulletin de lEcole
Francaise dExtreme Orient 75 (1986). 249-266.
Taylor, Keith W. "Authority and Legitimacy in Eleventh-Century Vietnam." Southeast Asia in
the 9th to 14th centuries (Ed. D. B. Marr and A. C. Milner). Singapore: Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies. 1986. 139-176.
--

. The Birth of Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1983.

--

. "An Evaluation of the Chinese Period in Vietnamese History." The Journal of Asiatic
Studies (Korea University, Seoul) 23, 1 (January 1980). 139-164.

--

. China and Vietnam: Looking for a New Version of an Old Relationship." The Vietnam
War: Vietnamese and American Perspectives (Ed. Jayne Werner and Luu Doan Huynh).
New York: M.E. Sharpe. 1993. 271-285.

--

. "Looking Behind the Vietnamese Annals." Vietnam Forum 7 (Winter-Spring 1986). 4768.

--

. "Notes on the Vit in U Linh Tp." Vietnam Forum 8 (Summer-Fall 1986). 26-59.

--

. Phng H,ng: Mencian King or Austric Paramount?" Vietnam Forum 8 (Summer-Fall


1986). 10-25.

--

. "The Poems of on Vn Khm." Crossroads 7, 2 (1992). 39-53.

--

. "Regional Conflicts Among the Vit Peoples Between the 13th and 19th Centuries."
Guerre et Paix en Asie du Sud-Est (Ed. Nguyn Th Anh and Alain Forest). Paris:
L'Harmattan. 1998. 109-133.

--

. "The Rise of i-Vit and the Establishment of Thng-Long. Explorations in Early


Southeast Asian History: The Origins of Southeast Asian Statecraft (Ed. K. R. Hall and J. K.
Whitmore). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1976. 149-191.

--

. "Some Thoughts on the L Dynasty." Vietnam Social Sciences 1, 1-2 (1988). 120-128.

--

. "A Southern Remembrance of Cao Bin." Melanges offerts au Professeur Phan Huy L,
Liber Amicorum (Ed. Philippe Papin and John Kleinen). H Ni: Nh Xut Bn Thanh
Nin. 1999. 241-258.
-. "The 'Twelve Lords' in Tenth-Century Vietnam." Journal of Southeast Asian
Studies 14, 1 (March 1983). 46-62.

93

--

. Voices Within and Without: Tales from Stone and Paper about Anh V." Essays
into Vietnamese Pasts (Ed. K. W. Taylor and J. K. Whitmore). Ithaca: Cornell Southeast
Asia Publications. 1995. 59-80.

--

. "Will over Fate: Nationalism's Appropriation of a Poem. Ting Vng 4 (1989). 10-13.

Wolters, O. W. "Assertions of Cultural Well-being in Fourteenth Century Vietnam." Part one:


Journal of Southeast Asian Studies X, 2 (1979), pp. 435-450. Part two: ibid., XI, 1 (1980),
pp. 74-90.
--

. "Celebrating the Educated Official: A Reading of some of Nguyn Phi Khanh's Poems."
The Vietnam Forum 2 (Summer-Fall 1983). 79-101.

--

. "Historians and Emperors in Vietnam and China: Comments Arising out of L Vn


H,u's History, Presented to the Trn Court in 1272." Perceptions of the Past in Southeast
Asia (Ed. Anthony Reid and David Marr). ASAA Southeast Asia Publication Series. 1979.
69-89.

--

. "L Vn H,u's Treatment of L Thn Tn's Reign (1127-1137)." Southeast Asian


History and Historiography: Essays Presented to D. G. E. Hall (ed. C . D . Cowan and 0. W.
Wolters). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1976. 203-226.

--

. "Narrating the Fall of the L and the Rise of the Trn Dynasties." Asian Studies
Association of Australia Review 10, 2 (1986). 24-32.

--

. "Phm S, Mnhs Poems Written when Patrolling the Vietnamese Northern Border in
the Middle of the Fourteenth Century." Journal of Southeast Asian Studies XIII, 1 (1982).
107-119.

--

. "Possibilities for a Reading of the 1293-1357 Period in the Vietnamese Annals."


Southeast Asia in the 9th to 14th Centuries (Ed. David G. Marr and A. C. Milner, with an
introduction by Wang Gungwu). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 1986.
369-410.

--

. "A Stranger in his Own Land: Nguyn Tr i's Sino-Vietnamese Poems, Written during
the Ming Occupation." The Vietnam Forum 8 (1986). 60-90.

--

. Two Essays on i-Vit in the Fourteenth Century. The Lc-Vit Series No. 9. New
Haven: Council on Southeast Asia Studies, Yale Center for International and Area Studies.
1988. Includes a preface dealing specifically with the Departed Spirits of the Vit Realm.

--

. "What Else May Ng S Lin Mean? A Matter of Distinctions in the Fifteenth Century."
Sojourners and Settlers: Histories of Southeast Asia and the Chinese, in Honour of Jennifer
Cushman (Ed. Anthony Reid). Sydney: Allen and Unwin for ASAA. 1995. 94-114.

94

Pinyin Equivalents
An Nam
(An Nan)

m Nh
(Dan Er)

Hm
(Xian)

Ba T,
(Bo Si)

u Dung
(Dou Rong)

Hn
(Han)

B Cht
(Bu Zhi)

,ng
(Tang)

Hn Hin
(Han Xian Di)

Cao
(Gao)

,ng i Lch
(Tang Da Li)

Hn Hon
(Han Huan Di)

Cao Bin
(Gao Pian)

,ng i Tng
(Tang Dai Zong)

Hn Quang V
(Han Guang Wu)

Cao Chnh Bnh


(Gao Zheng Ping)

,ng c Tng
(Tang De Zong)

H
(Hu)

Chn
(Zhen)

,ng Hm Thng
(Tang Xian Tong)

Hung N
(Xiong Nu)

Chnh D,ng
(Zheng Yang)

,ng Khai Nguyn


(Tang Kai Yuan)

Qch
(Yi)

Chu
(Zhuo)

,ng Mc Tng
(Tang Mu Zong)

Khu Cnh
(Qu Jing)

Dc
(Yi)

,ng Tc Tng
(Tang Su Zong)

Kin Khang
(Jian Kang)

D,ng Sn
(Yang Chan)

,ng Vnh Huy


(Tang Yong Hui)

Kinh
(Jing)

(Tuo)

,ng Tng
(Tang Yi Zong)

Li Cung
(Lai Gong)

i L
(Da Li)

Giang T
(Jiang Zuo)

Lm-p
(Lin Yi)

i Thc
(Da Shi)

Giao
(Jiao)

Lm Thao
(Lin Tao)

i Vit
(Da Yue)

H Ty
(He Xi)

Lim
(Lian)
95

Linh Lng
(Ling Ling)

M Vin
(Ma Yuan)

Tn
(Qin)

Lnh Ngoi
(Ling Wai)

M ng
(Mang)

Tn Thy Hong
(Qin Shi Huang)

L
(Lo)

Nam Chiu
(Nan Zhao)

Tn
(Jin)

L, Ng,
(Lu Yu)

Nam Hi
(Nan Hai)

Ty V,ng Mu
(Xi Wang Mu)

L,u Biu
(Liu Biao)

Nam Vit
(Nan Yue)

Th,ng Ng
(Cang Wu)

L,u Long
(Liu Long)

Ng
(Wu)

Thc
(Shu)

L,u Ph,ng
(Liu Fang)

Ng C
(Wu Ju)

Tiu T,
(Xiao Zi)

Luy Lu
(Lei Lou)

Ng Khung
(Wu Khuang)

T nh
(Su Ding)

L,ng
(Liang)

Ng Tn Quyn
(Wu Sun Quan)

Tng
(Song)

L,ng i Bo
(Liang Da Bao)

Ngy
(Wei)

Trn B Tin
(Chen Bo Xian)

L,ng i ng
(Liang Da Tong)

Nhn Th
(Ren Shuo)

Trn i Kin
(Chen Da Jian)

L,ng Thi Thanh


(Liang Tai Qing)

Nht
(Yi)

Trn Quc Huy


(Chen Guo Hui)

L,ng Thi Tng


(Liang Tai Song)

Qung
(Guang)

Trn Quc Trung


(Chen Guo Zhong)

L,ng V
(Liang Wu Di)

Qung Tn
(Guang Xin)

Triu (X,ng)
(Zhao) Chang

L Nguyn Gia
(Li Yuan Jia)

S Nhip
(Shi She)

Triu
(Zhao Tuo)

L Th,ng Minh
(Li Chang Ming)

Tng Cn
(Zeng Gun)

Trinh Nguyn
(Zhen Yuan)
96

Tr,ng Mn
(Zhang Min)

Ty Vn
(Sui Wen Di)

Ung Khi
(Yong Kai)

Tr,ng Tn
(Zhang Jin)

T, M
(Si Ma)

Vn Nam
(Yun Nan)

Tr,ng Khnh
(Chang Qing)

T
(Ci)

Vn D,ng
(Wen Yang)

Tun Hc
(Xun Xu)

Ut Tr Knh c
(Wei Chi Jing De)

V
(Wei)
Vit
(Yue)

97