INTRODUCTION

PREFACE

Historically, each nation has a tradition and culture that was made into a legend for the purpose of promotion of the national pride with its epics. Indeed, the legend of Dragon and Fairy about the origin of the Vietnamese race seems to be mysterious, but in reality, it reflects the humanist characteristics of Vietnamese tradition. The legend of the Fairy and the Dragon is the pride of Vietnamese people. Vietnamese people from babies to ripe old-aged elders, poor peasants to scholars, all have heard of the fairy tales about Hong Bang Family. Indeed, we all know about our source, with the great love of Father Dragon and Mother Fairy or “Luo (Lac) Father and Ou (Au) Mother”, ancestors of the Vietnamese race.

Suffice to say that the Vietnamese original legend in its historical tradition is imaginary. However, it heightens our traditional humanism. The legend of Vietnamese origin represents a noble cultural philosophy, for it is full of humanity, of fellow countrymen’s love fictionized in the image of ‘a bag of one hundred eggs, producing one hundred babies’ commonly known as ‘people of the same womb’. From the fellow-citizen concept to patriotism, love for homeland, all these have become the moral and traditional values of Vietnamese ethic and civilization. Henri Bernard Maitre praised the significance of Vietnamese culture through the ‘Temple of Literature’: “This Temple is not a place to pray or to make amulets. It is a formal place to honor our national heroes, our cultural elites, our doctorates with high ethical standards, and their names were engraved on stone-slabs, so that the future generations of Vietnamese would learn about our proper behaviors, worthy of the aspirations of our ancestors.”

For Vietnamese, the act of worshiping our ancestors is the moral standards in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. Since the ancient time, Vietnamese people have highly revered moral principles, so we often think about the commemoration of our relatives’ deaths rather than focusing on our birthdays. Today, although young people are more interested in their birthdays, they do not forget to commemorate their passed-away relatives. Worshiping our ancestors is a ‘Vietnamese religion’ showing moral standards of the Vietnamese. Cadière, a Catholic priest who came to Vietnam to evangelize Christianity, had once confessed that Vietnam was a nation of high religious spirit.

P. Mus, a scholar, when observing the Vietnamese, also acknowledged that Vietnamese people had a high spiritual life: “Vietnamese people did not work, they worship. Indeed, foreigners were surprised to see that every Vietnamese family had an ancestor altar in the middle of their homes. In the Vietnamese spiritual life, every movement is full of a sacred nature, and they worshipped their ancestors with all their hearts. This is the unique characteristic that is imbued with the deep national identity, full of the democratic and humanistic cultural philosophy. As a matter of fact, the Vietnamese spiritual life does not only emblem through the ancestral altar, but also in the altar on the mind of each person. Vietnamese people do not participate in ceremonies to pray for themselves, but they pray as a priest with all the sacred characteristics of a religion.” This represents the good values that characterize the spiritual life of the ancient Vietnamese people. Ancestors worshiping is human morality; it is something noble and spiritual handed down from generation to generation.

This spiritual life has contributed to the conservation of the Vietnamese heredity. Ancestor worshiping tradition is no longer a practice, a simple creed, but it has become a national standard of morality. Ancestor worshiping is considered the orthodox religion of Vietnamese people. Do Chieu, a patriot in the 19th century graciously reminded us, “It’s better to be blind to conserve our moral conformity than not worshiping our ancestors while our eyes are good.” Everyone of us Vietnamese knows that when we drink water, we need to know where it comes from, because “Our father’s kindness is as great like Great Mountain, and our mother’s love is as sourceful as the water flowing out from a stream. We must respect our parents and fulfill our filial duties…! Parents’ kindness to us is undeniably great and unforgettable, regardless of their being alive or in the great beyond. Past and present, we ought to be grateful to parents’ kindness forever.”

This is the uniqueness of Vietnamese’s spiritual life that each Vietnamese observes today and forever after. Undeniably, besides the real life’s sufferings and hardships, we all enjoyed being embraced by our traditional deep and noble spiritual life. It enlivens within each Vietnamese an optimistic living concept, love for life and leisure, together with the will to readily sacrifice our lives for the true independence, the true freedom, prosperity and happiness for all Vietnamese people.

Vietnamese history is the one full of rises and falls of a nation from the dawn of its foundation till today, in which it suffered for nearly one thousand years under Chinese domination, nearly one hundred years under French colonialism, and more than a half century of subjugation by foreign ideologies. During the course of our history, many a time, Chinese people, simmering in their expansionism by all means and with wicked and diabolic tricks, have attempted to invade our country.

Every time they were able to occupy our land, they exerted any way possible to destroy all traces of our roots, our civilization, and our culture. Simultaneously they distort and flip our history and replace it with something vague and chaotic that hampers the later generations Vietnamese from their aboriginal race and pride of their people. Each Chinese dynasty kept renaming the names of places purposefully, the chorographical features of our lands and rivers. More or less the Vietnamese people for nearly one thousand years under Chinese domination had been severely influenced by their mischievous policy of the cultural slavery that made us accept all the “false”, without questioning. However, history must be the truth, whether it has been distorted or buried for thousands of years. We need to see the light of the objective truth now.

At the threshold of the third millennium, the light of truth illuminates the true past that had been covered for thousands of years by our Chinese enemy. In the second millennium, mankind was shocked before the so-called ‘Greece-Roman paradox’ as the whole world previously discerned that all the Western civilization belonged to the Roman and Greece Empires, and then they had to confirm that it was from the civilization of old China too. At the end of the second millennium, mankind was shocked again to find that the so-called Chinese civilization was originally from Malyo-Viets.
The key thing for us is to review the entire history of Vietnam to restore the historical truth in order to dispel the dark clouds that have palled over our history for thousands of years. In the human history, perhaps no people have experienced so many glorious ups and painful downs in the course of our history as did the Vietnamese people. Right from the national foundation, Vietnamese people were hit and chased by Chinese people with the power of nomads, and then Vietnamese people had to leave their homeland and moved southward to settle on the land where Vietnam is now. After nearly one thousand years under China’s domination, Ngo Quyen defeated the South Han in the battle on Bach Dang river in 938, officially opening an era of independence for Vietnam.

Periodically, although we were invaded by China and forced to migrate to the south, the culture of Vietnamese people made its way into China, creating a so-called Chinese civilization. Sigma Qian, a noted historian of Chinese people, had to admit the fact that: “Although the Vietnamese were viewed as barbarians, at the beginning they had the great merit to all peoples …”.

Confucius, a great Chinese scholar, praised the brilliant civilization and confirmed the superiority of Bai-Yue Civilization in the southern part of China: Vietnam. In the book ‘Doctrine of the Mean,’ Confucius wrote: “Tolerance, generosity and kindness, no sense of vengeance against the immoral man: these are the source of power of the South, and it is the quality of a gentleman .. ! Wearing armor, riding horse, going to the battle field without fear of death: these are the source of power of the North, and it’s the strength of a bellicose man”.
In Spring and Autumn Analects, Confucius typified many incidents where a father killed his son, a son murdered his father, a father disgraced his son’s wife, a son abused his father’s concubine, a brother and a sister engaged in incestuous relationship, a subject assassinated his king, and so on. This proved nomadic Han-Chinese were barbarous in the manner of survival, regardless of human love and morality. Ironically, the invaders viewed Vietnamese as barbarians. On the contrary, the Baiyue in the south already had the agricultural civilization for a long time prior to the “Han civilization” interference. Confucius, the ever master of all times of Han Chinese, himself researched, collected, and learned from the civilization of Baiyue in the south, from which he brought the moral rules to the savage society in the north.

All ‘Five Classics’, the quintessence of Han-Chinese, were authored by Confucius who admitted that he just repeated what his predecessors left without any inventions of his own. Nowadays, the truth of history is recovered when all researchers affirm that most inventions which used to be considered as of the Chinese civilization-the agricultural advancement to the metallurgy, bronze-casting techniques, paper-making, glass-melting, gunpowder-making, architecture of sweeping roofs and curved knives… all belonged to Baiyue’s civilization. The Emperor Xian of Han, the last emperor of the Han dynasty, also admitted that: “Jiaozhi is a civilized land with many rivers, mountains, jewels, cultural objects and talented people”.

Coeval with the dawning of Vietnamese civilization, it is necessary to learn about the legend of The Fairy and The Dragon, foundation of Vietnamese nation and the beginning of the State by the National Ancestor ‘Hung King.’ Our filial generations will know clearly about the traditional cultural characteristics of the Vietnamese together with the spiritual cultural life, such as Tet holidays, and the meanings of other Vietnamese festivities. As such, our filial generations will thoroughly understand more clearly about the noble and beautiful values of the traditional culture characteristics of the Vietnamese.

We are proud that we are the children of ‘The Fairy and The Dragon’, the ancestors of a nation which has a long-standing history. Nguyen Trai, a cultural celebrity, declared: “To this day, only our Great Yueh (Viet) had thousands of years’ civilization.”. We are proud to be the Vietnamese, one of the biggest races of mankind, and we can keep abreast with powerful countries in the third millennium. We have to make sure that we deserve all the things that our ancestors have founded, and we must do good things for our country and sing of the sacred souls of Vietnamese heroes’ and heroines’ praises.

All Vietnamese at home and abroad, let’s hold our hands and let’s stay united as one. We will save our country, and turn it into a developed nation, which deserves the fame of Lac Hong-another name of the Vietnamese race. It’s our pride as the Vietnamese which excites patriotism within all Vietnamese people, especially the young generations, at home and abroad, to carry out a democratic revolution, to modernize our nation. Objective conditions of history help our young generations to have modern knowledge to fulfill transcendent scientific and technical revolution and make our country prosperous and powerful, to keep abreast with powerful countries in the third millennium.

Ngoclu Bronze Drum

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