Sa Huynh is an area dotted with quaint fishing villages and sandy beaches in the central region’s Quang Ngai Province.Located off National Highway 1A, along milestones 983-987 on the coast of Duc Pho District and parallel to the national railway line, Sa Huynh abounds with golden sand.
The color of the sand changes during the day from an earthy brown early in the morning, to a shimmering gold around noon, followed by a pale blue hue on moonlit nights.
Sa Huynh is rich in local seafood and there are several restaurants offering up fresh meals from the sea.
The area is also steeped in ancient culture dating back to 1,000 BC. The Sa Huynh people are thought to be predecessors of the Cham, the founders of the Champa Kingdom.
Along with the Dong Son Culture in the north and the Oc Eo Culture in the Mekong Delta, Sa Huynh is considered one of the most famous ancient Vietnamese cultures of the Iron Age era.
Along the beach, stretching around 6km, and near the Sa Huynh Tourist Resort is an abundance of scenic highlights.
Visitors can rent motorbikes and travel around Ma Vuong Mound to see historic archeological sites.
In the culture of the ancient Sa Huynh people, the dead were cremated and buried in jars. In the early 20th century, French archeologists excavated these ‘tomb jars’ and found many were also buried with stone adornments and tools.
At Sa Huynh Hotel, about one kilometer south of the Sa Huynh Railway Station, visitors can enjoy the view of the vast blue sea, rest in the shade of green casuarinas, feel the cool breeze on their skin, swim in the sea by a sloping beach, and enjoy food specialties such as boiled crabs with salt and chili, rice porridge with sea urchins, and sour soup with groupers.
When visiting Sa Huynh, be sure to purchase a few kilos of nep ngu (a type of glutinous rice once offered to kings) and fermented urchin paste, which is only available in the summer.
A trip aboard a ‘royal boat’ on the Huong (Perfume) River is a great way to discover the historic town of Hue.
The central town of Hue is well known for its dragon boat trips along the Huong (Perfume) River. It is a great way to learn about the unique culture and history of the central region. On most trips, visitors can travel via these boats to visit the Nguyen Kings’ mausoleums while enjoying ca Hue (traditional Hue singing).
The Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) was the last monarchy of Vietnam and for a truly royal experience, visitors can opt to take a special royal boat adapted from the dynasty’s Yen Nhu boat. This type of vessel was featured at the Legend of Huong River Festival, part of Festival Hue 2008.
Compared with ordinary dragon boats that serve tourists, the royal boat is much bigger. It is 27 meters long, seven meters wide, and nearly six meters tall with seating for 120 people. Spectacular dragons and tigers are carved into the boat’s wooden floor and railings.
The cruise begins at Nghinh Luong Dinh Quay and lasts one and a half hours from 7 p.m. every night. On the voyage, visitors travel along the Huong River, from Truong Tien to Bach Ho bridges. The boat cruises gently past several scenic areas of Hue while traditional cuisine is served with musical accompaniment.
The trip is also enhanced by drama performances including royal songs, time-honored dances and poetry readings. Visitors can also share in the fun by trying on costumes like that worn by the kings and royal family during gala dinners.
Guests are sure to enjoy an evening of floating along the peaceful river while learning about royal culture and history.
A royal boat trip costs a base rate of VND50,000 (US$2.90) with optional activities costing more.
Artist HA THI CAU
Xam is a genre of folk songs in northern Vietnam. Xam is also a word used to call blind people who sing xam songs to earn money so hat xam is considered a job.
Many equate xam with beggars but they are different. Xam don’t live on free food or money but they live on offerings from people. Before receiving tokens, they have to win people’s hearts with their voices and music.
In the first half of the 20th century, xam grouped up to travel everywhere. Each group was often led by a group leader, who was a blind man.
The word “professional” is needed to describe xam, who earn their living by singing. The professionalism of this job is also shown through the organisation of xam groups, which are linked with each other under the control of a leader.
Normally, each xam leader controls an area. If a xam group wants to sing in another area, it needs the agreement of the xam leader who controls that area.
It is also professional in the way xam choose sad or merry melodies to be appropriate to the circumstance and the attitude of listeners.
Hat xam’s founder is a prince?
Normally, only jobs related to production have founders, but hat xam also has a founder. And the founder of hat xam is a dignitary, Prince Tran Quoc Dinh.
According to legend, in the Tran Dynasty, there were two princes, Tran Quoc Toan and Tran Quoc Dinh. As both sought the crown, a power struggle ensued. During an altercation, Tran Quoc Toan tore out Tran Quoc Dinh’s eyes and threw him into the forest.
Tran Quoc Dinh couldn’t do anything but cry. He fell asleep. In a dream, a Buddha appeared and gave him a musical instrument which was played with a bamboo rod. Upon awakening, he made the musical instrument based on his dream. It was odd that the instrument created sweet sounds. Hearing the sound, birds brought fruits to him. Some lumbermen heard the sound and took care of him.
Prince Tran Quoc Dinh taught poor and blind people how to play the instrument and sing as well. He became famous, even in the capital. He was invited to sing in the royal palace, where his father recognised his son. Even after returning to the palace, the prince continued to teach poor and blind people.
Hat xam was born then and Tran Quoc Dinh was honoured as the founder of hat xam. Xam consider the 22nd day of the second lunar month and the 22nd day of the eight lunar month as the prince’s death anniversary and the founding anniversary of hat xam.
The Vietnam Music Art Development Centre has an award in the name of Tran Quoc Dinh for artists, collectors, researchers and journalists who make great contributions to traditional music
Based on the characteristics of this job, the anniversary is often organised on wide plots of land, not in a temple or a fixed place.
Restoring hat xam anniversary
Hat xam and hat xam anniversary was popular in the 1950-1960 and it disappeared after that. In 2008, the Vietnam Music Art Development Centre resumed the anniversary for the first time at Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature). This is part of a programme to restore hat xam art conducted since 2005.
Restoring the anniversary is also the aspiration of the living treasure of hat xam, artisan Ha Thi Cau.
This year, the second anniversary will be held at the communal house of Hao Nam village, on Vu Thanh street. According to musician Thao Giang, who initiated the resumption of this anniversary, as of 2009, this anniversary will be organised annually at this communal house.
It is pity that this year artisan Ha Thi Cau will not attend the anniversary because she is very weak now. After the anniversary, some xam singers will go to Ninh Binh province to visit the latest famous xam singer of the 20th century, Mrs. Ha Thi Cau.
Source: Vietnam Culture
“How joyful to have a Trong Com; and it is an honour for those who can clap it skilfully, oohh ah bong ah bong…”, are beautiful lyrics and melody of a famous song from Vietnamese folklore about Trong Com.
Normally, the song is usually accompanied by a picture of boy or girl drummers with axehead-shaped turbans and long-shaped drums hung loose from the neck down to about the belly. This drum is called Trong Com, which contributes an unique sound – now happy and cheerful, now low, soft and woeful recalling the innermost feelings of one’s native country, one’s homeland...
The history behind
Legend goes that once upon a time, there was a poor Confucian disciple who was very unlucky in competitions and examinations and had to go begging. Everyday, he went past the mansion of a wealthy family where there was always a girl waiting to give him rice. One day, so moved by her good deed, the young man came to thank the girl. However, she said that she had done just what she had been ordered to do by her young mistress. On learning that, the man requested to see the mistress, who was a kind-hearted girl. Seeing the poor scholar bowing with joined hands, the damsel hurriedly bent down to raise him and said: “Never mind, please! I understand and sympathize with your unlucky lot. Since you depart now, I would like to give you a small sum as travelling expenses and this golden hair pin in the earnest hope that one day you will succeed in making a living and come back to the native land, and then…”. The girl left the sentence unfinished, but the scholar had got the message. Fully conscious of his fated misfortune, he decided to turn to music with a determination to achieve success. As time passed, he became famous. Bearing in mind the old promise, he returned to the native village, hoping to meet again his benefactor. Unfortunately, upon arrival, he learnt that the damsel had just passed away due to illness. In his great lament, the young man brought along his musical instrumentalist guild to pay tributes to the deceased and himself created a small, cylindrical drum with rice stuck against both drumheads in commemoration of the ill-fated girl. The strip from which the drum was hung was made of white cloth symbolizing the mourning band. And as he clapped the drumheads, the doleful sounds echoed his deep pain and the loss of his sweetheart.
The Trong Com is held at both ends by a strip hanging over the performer’s neck. It thus lies horizontally against the belly of the drummer who uses both hands to clap the drumheads. In the past, people stuck a handful of glutinous rice to each drumhead. The glutinous rice stuck against the drumhead lends its name to the drum (Trong Com in Vietnamese literally means “Rice Drum”).
The Trong Com gets its name from the practice of placing a pinch of hot steamed rice in the middle of the drum skin to “tune” the instrument. Cylindrical drums are straight-sided. They may have one head, but more often have two heads (one head at each end). One head may have a snare (buzzing string) stretched across it. The body of the drum is made of wood in a tubular shape with the ends slightly tapered. A string is passed through the holes pierced on the edge of each of its faces and strung across it in a zigzag fashion to regulate its tension. The sound obtained from one face is five tones higher than the other. The sound of the trong com is a little dull, somewhat similar to the large-sized dan ho, and it is used to express sadness.
The Trong Com is one of the percussion instruments used in worshipping and various ceremonies, in accompanying Tuong or Cheo drama and in Phuong Bat Am or an octet (a popular ensemble of eight instrumental timbres). Its use has also spread to Cai luong (reformed opera) and other orchestras. The player, when standing, has the Trong Com slung over his stomach. When sitting he rests his instrument on his lap. He strikes the faces of the drum with his fingers with varied style.
Meaningful flow of sound in a rotating cylindricity of Trong Com is so popular in Vietnamese traditional festivals, that always bring about different feelings for the listeners, now happy and cheerful, now low, soft and woeful…
Source: Vietnam Culture
Ancestor worship has been said that the Vietnamese believe in the dead, while the Occidentals believe only in death.
Ancestor worship was introduced into Vietnam by the Chinese during their long occupation of the country that began 200 years before the birth of Christ. Since then, it has been fully absorbed into the Vietnamese consciousness and, with Confucianism, underpins the country’s religion and social fabric. It somewhat represents for Vietnamese culture.
Ancestor worship is not only the adhesive that binds the Vietnamese together, but also one of the most difficult concepts for people from Anglo-Saxon or European origins to understand. It has been said that the Vietnamese believe in the dead, while the Occidentals believe only in death.
The basis of ancestor worship seems to stem from two principle ideas: (1) that “those who have gone before” have a continual and beneficent interest in the affairs of the living; and (2) more widespread, uneasiness, fear of the dead, with practices to placate them. The later ideas more often serve as a form of dispensing emotions than of worship.
How do Vietnamese people worship their ancestors?
The practice of ancestor worship is relatively straightforward. Nearly every house, office, and business in Vietnam has a small altar which is used to commune with ancestors. Incense sticks are burned frequently. Offerings are made – fruit, sweets, and gifts. The latter items are paper replicas of dollar notes (‘ghost money’), motorbikes, cars, houses and so on. After worship, the paper gifts are burnt so that the spirits of the gifts can ascend to heaven for the ancestors to use.
In the past, the income from a plot of land was used to maintain the altar and arrange the rituals, but this tradition has now faded away. However, the custom that the eldest son will arrange the ceremonial and inherit the family house upon the death of his parents is still generally observed.
Another traditional element is the placing of wooden tablets on the altar for each of the ancestors over recent generations. This is less rigorously observed today, and tablets are often replaced by photographs. Some pagodas house commemorative tablets for ancestors on behalf of regular worshipers.
When do Vietnamese people worship their ancestors?
Worshiping takes place regularly on particular days, such as festivals, new and full moon days, the death day of the ancestor, and so on. On important occasions, such as moving house, starting a new business or the birth of a child, and whenever a member of the family needs guidance or a favour, the ancestors are consulted.
A proliferation of small fires of burning paper in the streets of towns and cities means that it is a festival or moon day. One paper fire is likely to be an event affecting a single family.
Why do Vietnamese people worship their ancestors?
For the Vietnamese, ancestor worship is not related to ghosts, spiritualism or even the supernatural in the Western sense. It is not even a ‘belief’ in the sense that it is open to question by the ‘believers’. The Vietnamese accept as a fact that their ancestors continue to live in another realm, and that it is the duty of the living to meet their needs. In return, the ancestors give advice and bring good fortune.
Devotees of Buddhism believe in previous existences, and seek to correct previous bad deeds to reach enlightenment. Ancestor worship is fundamentally different. For the Vietnamese, death, and the ritual and practice of ancestor worship, constitutes the transfer of power from the tangible life to the intangible. Existence is a continuum stretching through birth, a life spent in tangible form on Earth, followed by death and a spirit existence in another realm for a further two or three generations.
Who are the heroic ancestors
By virtue of their worthy deeds, heroic ancestors, such as Tran Hung Dao and the Trung sisters, continue to exist and be worshiped in temples for many generations beyond the two or three of ordinary folk. Their rectitude is a model to guide the behavior of the living.
What about ‘bad’ ancestors?
All ancestors are worthy of respect and reverence, regardless of their behavior as living beings. However, the misdeeds of a wicked family ancestor will be visited upon his or her children and grandchildren in the form of bad luck. This is a powerful influence upon the behavior of the living, influencing them to behave well and do good deeds in the present, thereby endowing their living and unborn children with good luck in the future.
How does ancestor worship affect daily life in Vietnam?
The effect of ancestor worship upon Vietnamese society is profound. There are three main concepts:
- regarding life as a small part of an infinitely greater whole embracing the entire race
- a belief that the past and present exist simultaneously
- a certitude that each individual’s behaviour in life has a direct impact upon the quality of the lives of his or her children and grandchildren
Taken together, these convictions extend the concept of the family far beyond the sense in which the term is used in the West. A Vietnamese person is never ‘alone’ – his or her ‘family’ is always present.
What is the future of ancestor worship in Vietnam?
Whether ancestor worship will continue to be strong as the influence of scientific rationalism and social change accelerates, is an open question. In the past, the majority of individual family members lived within close geographical proximity. The turmoil in the years before and after the defeat of the US forces led to an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people.
More recently, economic migration and travel to far countries to study or work have created a growing Diaspora. Only time will determine whether the strength of the beliefs that have sustained the Vietnamese family unit over many centuries and created a unique national community will withstand the pressures of globalisation and expanding modern technology.
Thousands of people annually gathered at the stadium of Do Son Town, Hai Phong City to witness the attractive performances of buffalos within the Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival, an outstanding and unique festival one in Vietnam which is associated with different legends.
One of the legends has it that long time ago, one Creator caused a severe drought. All living things looked toward the sea, praying for Creator’s favour. In the most miserable moment, suddenly, people saw two buffalos fighting fiercely on the wave crests and the rains started to pour down, revive all creature. The local people organise the fighting performance annually to show, not only their great gratitude for the Sir Buffalo but also their desire for the immortal vitality and strength of coastal people of Haiphong. Being held officially and annually on the ninth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar since the 18th century, the festival is a chance for local people to pray for prosperity and happiness.
The preparation for this buffalo fighting festival is an elaborate process, from the 5th and the 6th lunar month itself. The competing buffalos must be carefully selected and methodically trained months in advance of the festival. These buffalos, that had experienced the qualifying round, must be between 4 and 5 years old, with a good appearance, a wide chest, a big groin, a long neck, an acute bottom and bow shaped horns. The selected buffalos, after all the elimination rounds, are fed in separate cages to keep them from contact with common buffalos.
Buffalo fighting performance
The beginning of the worshipping ceremony lasts until lunch time. Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival takes off with a colorful procession with an octet and a big procession chair, carried by six strong young men. The chosen buffalos, covered with red cloth and red band around their horns, are taken to the fighting ring by 24 young men, from each side dressed in red. The young men dance and wave flags as the two teams of troops take their positions in the fighting ground. The dance was mingled with the ebullient sound of drums and gongs, bringing a hectic atmosphere to the festival. After this event, a pair of buffalos is led to opposite sides of the festival grounds and is made to stand near two flags called Ngu Phung. As soon as the right signal is released, the two buffalos are led into the fighting circle. At the next signal, the two leaders release the ropes that are attached to the noses of the buffalos. With well-practiced movements, the buffalos rush into each other, using their fighting skills to decide the right to enter the next match while the spectators shout and urge the fighting along. Then, the winning buffalo goes to the next round till the final winner emerges. The matches varied in terms of time, depending on the strength and stamina of the buffalos. At the completion of the fight, the spectacle of “receiving the buffalos” is very interesting as the leaders must then catch the winning buffalo to grant it its reward.
The Buffalo Fighting in Do Son is traditional festival of Vietnam attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the “Hien Sinh” custom. The ceremony is held in every village and chaired by its patriarch to pray for the victory at the buffalo fight, typically express the martial spirit of the local people in Do Son, Hai Phong. In recent years, this traditional festival attracted not only local residents but also thousands of domestic and international tourists.
Source: Vietnam Culture
Silk painting is the traditional Vietnamese art of silk painting which originates from painting and drawing on home made rice paper. Today this art has become famous around the world for its simple poetic themes and vibrant colors. Vietnamese artists find the technique to be a unique way to create mystique in their paintings.
The Vietnamese style of silk painting emphasizes softness, elegance and has a flexibility of style. The success of a silk painting very much depends on the quality of the silk. Differently with other kinds of paintings, the silk canvas are usually not painted. The Vietnamese traditional silk painting style tends to use the silk canvas directly as the background of the painting.
Vietnamese silk paintings typically showcase the countryside, landscapes, pagodas, historical events or scenes of daily life. The colors are used delicately with the canvas to make Vietnamese silk paintings. The delicate white color found in the sky, water, or human portrait, is the color of silk. The color of silk is well known to describe human figure in the paintings of many famous vietnamese artists. Delicate color and silk background give the paintings such an harmony with the nature. Whatever style they follow, silk painters must have an intimate knowledge of the material and fully exploit its shininess and its attractiveness. Painting silk is full of changing and unexpected characteristics, and a wrong stroke of the brush is irreversible.
Silk represents an important language of Vietnamese painting after lacquer. Its capacity of absorption and dilution given to the works an impression of mellowness spreading through the woofs and wefts of silk, adding a certain vibration to the forms and colours.
Vietnamese silk painting has its own unique character and colours that are distinctly different from those from ancient China and feudal Japan. Each painting is a great description of the beautiful nature and talented skills of the Vietnamese. By using contemporary colours, Vietnamese silk painting has won the hearts of many art lovers nationally and Internationally.
Source: Vietnam Beauty
This festival take place on 5th day of the fifth lunar month in every house of the Kinh (Viet).
This is the middle year festival for the prevention of disease and ward off evil spirits (the day of changing weather from spring to summer, this is the time easy to get pathogen). On the day of “killing inner insects”, every one has to get up early, eat fermented sticky and fruits. The worshipping is held at noon, hour of Ngo.
Ooc-Om-Bok Festival is a religious service that worships the moon deity of the Khmer minority group and prays for good luck, happiness, good weather and bumper crops. The festival is usually held when the dry season begins and rice are ripening on the fields.
The Moon-worshipping ceremony takes place on the evening of 14th of tenth lunar month before the moon goes to the top. The ceremony is held in the yards of the pagoda or of residents’ houses. People erect bamboo poles with a crossbar on which they decorate with flowers and leaves. Below is a table of offerings that include green rice flakes, potatoes, bananas, coconuts, grapefruits, oranges and cakes. People sit on the ground with crossed legs, clasping their hands before the altar and look up the Moon. An old master of ceremonies says his prayers, asks the moon deity to receive the offerings and bless people with the best.
After the ceremony, the elders ask the children of the house sit flatly on the ground with crossed legs before the altar. The elders then take a handful of green rice, feed each child and ask them what they wish while clapping their backs. If the children answer the question clearly and politely, all the best will come to them that year. After that, people enjoy the offerings together, and children play games or dance and sing in the moonlight. Anyone who visits the Khmer’s houses on this occasion will be tasted com dep (a kind of young sticky rice). At the pagodas of Khmer people, locals hold paper-lantern releasing into the sky and putting on the rivers. The custom of releasing flying lights and floating lights is believed to sweep away the darkness, impure and sadness from the village. Many traditional activities of the Khmer are organized on the evening of 14th.
Meetings are considered very formal in Vietnam. It is not common to commit to meeting a long time in advance. In Vietnam the meeting will be confirmed at most one week prior to the appointment. It may make it difficult for you planning a trip but it is a reality in Vietnam. You should reconfirm your meeting one or two days ahead. You also should contact with your partner first to get a list of participants and their ranks so you know who you will talk with. Vice versa send your representatives before the meeting.
You will be led into a meeting room in which the Vietnamese are already present. Your team leader should enter first. And after greeting by making handshaking, your team will be invited for sitting across a table, leaders opposite each other and others seated in descending order of importance.
Small talk will come first. Business is addressed once people feel comfortable with each other. The head of the host team will deliver a short welcome speech, and then turn the floor over to the visitors. Your senior team member should speak for your company; avoid conflicting statements from other team members. When talking, your spokesman should address the senior Vietnamese representative. Vietnamese prefer to hear a proposal as a broad overview, and then respond to specific issues or questions point by point.
Business cards are a common opening to business meetings. It is very impressive if you prepare the business card which has two sides, one has your own language and the other translated into Vietnamese. Because it is a little bit difficult for you and your partner to distinguish foreign people so a very important point is you should put your picture into the business card. Business cards should be handed to all those attending a meeting because it is sometimes difficult to discern who the important players are and who will play what role in the future. Generally, a business card should be handed to the most senior person first. Cards should be presented with two hands to very important officials, but for all others there is no required etiquette. By reading your hosts’ cards carefully, you can show respect and clarify the function of the person with whom you are speaking. Don’t disregard the cards or shove them in your pocket. Basically, treat them with respect but don’t obsess over them. In the case of large delegations, the exchange of cards may only take place between the most senior representatives. Other members of the group can exchange cards after the meeting is complete.