Vietnamese Culture
                        Copyright 1996 Tran Thong

Issue 29. The legend of tra^`u cau, ADT.

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
Issue #27: The genie of Ta?n Vie^n, ADT
Issue #28: The magic crossbow, ADT
Issue #29: The legend of tra^`u cau, ADT - September 6, 1996.
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                   The legeng of tra^`u cau
                    Adapted by AnDinhTon

During the Hung Vuong dynasty, there were the identical twin brothers 
Ta^n and Lang. They lived together after their parents passed away. Then 
one day Ta^n fell in love with a girl by the name of Phu`, and they got 
married. Lang did not want to live far from his brother, so he built a 
small house next to the big house of their parents, that Tan and his wife 
now lived in. Phu would cook for the two brothers. They shared the tasks 
of farming and frequently went hunting together.

One hot day, after a long hunt, Lang decided to go home early. He took 
the birds that they have shot with him back home while Tan continued 
hunting for a while longer. Lang took the birds into the kitchen of the 
big house and left them on the kitchen table. Since he felt really tired, 
he stretched down on the bed of his brother and fell asleep.

Phu came back from the market and feeling tired and seeing her husband 
asleep decided to share the bed with him. She fell asleep next to Lang. 

When Lang woke up, he found his brother's wife asleep next to him. He 
felt ashamed to have slept with his brother's wife and blamed himself for 
having fallen asleep in his brother's bed. He did not blame Phu because 
he understood that she could have easily mistaken him. He decided since 
he has dishonored his brother that he should leave never to return. So, 
he silently got out of bed and left. Ashamed about what happened, he 
wandered deep in the forest. After a few days of wandering, he felt down 
from exhaustion and died. His body turned into a lime (vo^i) rock.

When Tan came back from hunting, his wife woke up and asked where did he 
go to be so tired, why did he not stay in bed and rest on such a hot day. 
He was very surprised by the questions and after a few questions of his 
own, he realized the mistake that happened. He ran out to his brother's 
house but could not find him. A few days later, he realized that his 
brother has left their village to avoid the shame of the mistake. So, he 
set out to find Lang. After wandering many days in the forest looking for 
Lang, Tan felt down from exhaustion at the base of the lime rock that was 
the body of his brother. He passed away and became a tall areca palm tree 
(ca^y cau).

Phu in remorse over her mistake waiting impatiently for the return of her 
husband and his brother. Days passed by. She decided to go and look for 
her husband. After wandering the forest for days, she also felt exhausted 
on a lime rock next to an areca palm. And she died and became a betel 
vine (ca^y tra^`u) that would creep up and entwine the palm tree.  

King Hung Vuong (one of many) passed by the location on a tour of his 
kingdom. He was told the legend of the rock, the palm tree and the vine. 
He asked his court if there was a way to prove the veracity of the 
legend. One of his minister suggested a blood test since the blood of 
related people will mix. So, chunks of the lime rock, nuts of the palm 
tree and the leaves of the vine were ground and mixed together. From the 
mixture came a red liquid that looks like blood. The King thus was 
satisfied that the legend was true. 

People in recognition of the couple's devotion to each other decided to 
use the betel and acacia nut as a wedding gift. Thus, tra^`u cau has 
become a traditional gift from the groom's family in Vietnamese wedding 
ceremonies.