Vietnamese Culture - A 1970's Perspective
                        Copyright 1996 Andinhton

Issue 26. The hero of Phu Dong

Please direct all questions to trant@teleport.com
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Here is the proposed schedule of this column.

Issue #1:  Tet 1971 in Vietnam! by Phu Si, VB710118
Issue #2:  The Unicorn dance at Tet, by Minh Tam, VB710118.
Issue #3:  The origin of Tao Quan, the three kitchen gods, by
           George F. Schultz, VB710118.
Issue #4:  1971 - The year of the Pig, by Van Ngan, VB710118.
Issue #5   The Joy of "first writing of the new year", by Thuy Ngoc,
           VB710208.
Issue #6:  Traditional Vietnamese male attire, by Van Ngan, VB710208
Issue #7:  The legend of Princess Lieu Hanh, George F. Schultz, VB710215 
Issue #8:  The dialogue on Mount Na-Son, George F. Schultz, VB710222
Issue #9:  The secret housewife, George F. Schultz, VB710301
Issue #10: The golden axe, George F. Schultz, VB710308
Issue #11: Golden age of Viet Nam under the Hung Kings, Pham Tung, 
           TAS720506.
Issue #12: The legend of Chu Van Dich, George F Schutlz, VB701221
Issue #13: The sandalwood maiden, George F. Schultz, VB7010??
Issue #14: Legend about Emperor Ly Thai-To, George F Schultz, VB7010??
Issue #15. Chu Dong-Tu and Princess Tien Dung, George F. Schultz,
           VB701005
Issue #16. The husband's most difficult task: teaching his wife, 
           Van Ngan, VB 691216
Issue #17: Superstition in Viet Nam, Van Ngan, VB6911?? - May 8, 1996.
Issue #18: Hair: VN style, VB7007?? - May 15, 1996
Issue #19: Funeral rites in Viet-Nam, Van Ngan, VB7006?? - May 22, 1996.
Issue #20: "Non Bai Tho" or the "Poetical Leaf", ???, VB7011??.
Issue #21: The different systems of writings in Viet-Nam, ???, VB710201.
Issue #22: Vietnamese literature in "Chu Nom", ???, VB710201.
Issue #23: The boat of illusion, Nguyet Cam, Heritage Sept/Oct 1995.
Issue #24: Tran Hung Dao's proclamation to his officers, 
           George F. Schultz, VB 710201.
Issue #25: The refined pleasure of tea-drinking, Tuong Minh, The 
           Saigon Times Weekly, No. 238.
Issue #26: The hero of Phu Dong, ADT - July 24, 1996
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                         Foreword

With issue #24 we have essentially finished the Vietnam Bulletin series 
that I have originally in mind. In the next set of issues, we will be 
presenting adaptations of a series of Vietnamese legends by An Dinh Ton. 
ADT has graciously agreed to make these available to us.

If any member of the audience has any English articles that would be 
interesting to publish in this series, I wish they would contact me and 
let us share our cultural heritage.

Tran Thong
trant@teleport.com
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This series is dedicated to all the children of Vietnam, wherever they 
may be.                   

                          The hero of Phu Dong
                          Adapted by AnDinhTon

One of the earliest hero of Vietnamese prehistory is Phu` DDo^?ng Thie^n 
Vu+o+ng, a boy of three who answered the call of his country under the 
threat of an invasion  from the North.

In the reign of the fourth Hu`ng Vu+o+ng king, the first Vietnamese 
dynasty that lasted from 2879 BC to 258 BC, the kingdom was at peace. One 
day, there was the news that the A^n king was preparing his army for an 
invasion of the Viet kingdom.

The king met with his cabinet to discuss our options. An official made 
the following suggestion:
	let us ask the dragon god for advice.

Thus, the king set up an altar and for three days prayed to the gods. 
Suddenly a storm broke out. After that, an old man appeared at the gate 
of the city, sat down and started laughing and acting strangely.

The people reported this to the king. The king personally came out to 
welcome this old man and brought him to the altar and had food and wine 
brought to feast the old man. He refused all food and did not say 
anything.

The king came before the old man, bowed and asked
	the A^n invaders are about to arrive. Would you have any 
	strategy that would help us to defeat them?

The old men, pulled out from his pocket a set of tablets and after 
shuffling them and examining them he said
	The invaders are very strong. You need to stockpile supply,
	increase the vigilance of the guards, train your soldiers 
	thoroughly, prepare the people psychologically, then search 
	throughout the kingdom for a hero that would lead the 
	fight. Let him command your army!

After those words, he flew off. The king knew that this was the dragon 
god.

As the A^n invaders came close to the gates of the kingdom, the king sent 
his emissaries throughout the land to find a hero to lead the fight.

In the village of Phu` DDo^?ng, district of Vu~ Ninh, province of Ba('c 
Ninh, there was a rich farmer family who did not have a child until they 
were in their 60's. The son was three year old and he still could not sit 
nor speak, but laid on the bed all day long. As the royal emissary passed 
through the village, the mother kidded her son and said:
	You can only eat. You cannot fight so that your parents can 
	receive rewards from the king.

The youth suddenly said
	The emissary has come. Mother, can you please invite him in so 
	that I can ask him questions.

The mother was very happy and went out and told her neighbors.
	My son can speak!

The neighbors were curious and they invited the king's emissary. He asked 
the youth:
	You just started speaking. Why did you invite me here?

The youth sat up and instructed the king's emissary:
	You go back and tell the king to make me an iron horse 18 meter 
	high, a sword 7 meter long, an iron rod, and an iron helmet. And I 
	will go out and fight the invaders.
 
When the emissary reported back to the king, the latter said happily:
	I no longer have to fear the invaders!

Members of the court asked him:
	But a 3 year old youth, how could he defeat the invaders?

The king replied:
	The dragon god has instructed me, don't you doubt anything!

And then the king ordered the items that the youth asked be cast. The 
king emissary brought forth the items. The mother was afraid of the 
penalties of misleading the king, so she asked the youth. He laughed and 
replied:
	Don't you worry. I'll destroy the invaders!

Then he had the iron horse brought to him. He slapped the horse, which 
collapsed since it was hollow. He instructed the emissary
	Would you please request that the king cast me a solid iron horse.

The emissary brought back a solid iron horse. After the youth checked it 
out, he told his mother:
	Would you please prepare a very big dinner so that I can have
	the strength to go and fight the invaders.

But the mother could not satisfy his hunger. And as he ate, he grew 
bigger. The whole village had to pitch in and slaughter a number of 
buffalos, pigs and brought to the youth wine and fruits. But he was still 
hungry. And all the bolts of cloth in the village were not sufficient to 
cover him as he grew, they had to patch his clothes with straw.

The A^n invaders have reached Cha^u So+n. When the youth heard the news, 
the stood up, lifted his shoulder and he became a 10 meter high person. 
He drew his sword, took his rod and jumped on the horse:
	I am the General from Heaven!

After that shout, he took off with his horse and entered battle with his 
horse blazing flame. The A^n invaders lost the battle, losing many many 
lives. The A^n king was killed at Cha^u So+n. His soldiers bowed their 
head and asked to surrender.

The victorious youth turned around and when he reached So'c So+n, he took 
off his armor, and rode his iron horse to the heavens, leaving only his 
footprint in the mountain rocks.

To honor him, the king, gave him the title of "Phu` DDo^?ng Thie^n 
Vu+o+ng", "Heavenly prince of Phu` DDo^?ng", had a temple built in his 
home village so that he can be honored annually, and gave his parents 100 
acres of public land.

Since, the barbarians A^n had not dared entertain any thought about our 
contry. The neighboring countries, upon hearing of the big victory, sent 
their ambassadors with presents to King Hu`ng Vu+o+ng court and asked to 
become his vassals.
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