Vietnamese Culture - A 1970's Perspective
                       Copyright 1996 Vn-families

Issue #13. The sandalwood maiden, George F. Schultz, Vietnam Bulletin 
October 1970.

We will run this column weekly until we run out of interesting cultural 
Please direct all questions to [email protected]
Here is the proposed schedule of this column.

Issue #1:  Tet 1971 in Vietnam! by Phu Si, VB710118 - Jan 17, 1996
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,
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 - March 27, 1996.
Issue #12: The legend of Chu Van Dich, George F Schutlz, VB701221 - 
           April 3, 1996
Issue #13: The sandalwood maiden, George F. Schultz, VB7010?? - 
           April 10, 1996.
Issue #14: Legend about Emperor Ly Thai-To, George F Schultz, VB7010?? -
           April 17, 1996.
One of the few tales about Nha Trang!
                       THE SANDALWOOD MAIDEN
                    Adapted by George F. Schultz

In the forest near Nha Trang there once lived a poor couple who managed 
to keep body and soul together by gathering firewood and selling it in 
the village. Although the couple often sacrificed to the gods and 
constantly prayed for their favors, they had remained childless. But one 
evening, as he was returning home, the woodcutter came upon a small girl 
who had been abandoned in the forest. He took her into his arms and 
carried her home to his wife.

The good woman was overjoyed to have a child to love and cherish at 
last. In spite of their abject poverty, the couple gave the little girl 
every care and attention. They saw to it that she wanted for nothing and 
let her have her own way in everything. Sometimes it seemed to them that 
their daughter had very strange desires.

As the years passed by, the little girl turned into a beautiful young 
maiden. One day, she brought home a piece of sandalwood from which a 
very special aroma seemed to come forth; it was much more fragrant than 
any other variety of sandalwood. The maiden took very good care of her 
new possession and no one else was permitted to touch it.

Since their daughter was very well-behaved, the parents did not deny her 
this strange pleasure. A day came, however, when she informed them that 
she had been commanded to go to the Court of the Emperor of China, where 
she would marry his son, The woodcutter and his wife forbade their 
daughter to undertake this journey. But she continued to offer new 
proofs of Heaven's Will and pleaded incessantly for their permission.

Finally, wearied by the young woman's pleas, the parents offered no more 
opposition to her plans and with heavy hearts agreed to let her depart. 
The maiden said farewell and went immediately to the seacoast, where she 
threw her piece of sandalwood into the water. Borne northwards by the 
current, it reached the shores of China. As for the maiden, she vanished 
without a trace.

Shortly thereafter, on the China coast, a fisherman found a wonderful 
piece of sandalwood in his net. He realized that it must be of great 
value and at once took it to the Imperial Palace.

When the Emperor's son gazed on the piece of sandalwood, he was seized 
with an overwhelming desire to own the costly object. He begged his 
father so insistently that the latter finally let him have it. The crown 
prince then wrapped the sandalwood in a silken cloth and kept it near 
him in the palace.

During the night the silken cloth was seen to move. The crown prince 
looked at it wonderingly and then remove it. From beneath the cloth 
appeared a beautiful maiden. The prince's heart was filled with such 
love for her that he went at once to his father and begged permission to 
marry her. The Emperor gave his consent and the wedding of the 
woodcutter's daughter and the son of the Emperor of China was celebrated 
with all the customary pomp.

The young couple were very happy in their first weeks of wedded life. 
Then, one day, the young wife told her husband that she had promised to 
visit her foster parents and requested his permission to make the 
journey to her old home.

The prince did not want his beautiful wife to be away from his side for 
a single day, however, and refused to grant her permission to leave. 
Prayers and tears availed her  nothing. The young woman then went to the 
seashore with her piece of sandalwood and hurled it into the water. 
Before her husband's very eyes, she immediately vanished into thin air.

A few days later, the woodcutter found a piece of sandalwood on the 
beach of Nha Trang. It was a sad remembrance of his lost daughter. But 
when he returned home and found that she herself was present there, joy 
reigned again in the little household.

The crown prince was furious at his wife's disappearance. He equipped a 
fleet and sailed south with it  in order to search for her. 
Unfortunately for the prince, his mistrust had angered Ngoc Hoang, the 
Emperor of Jade, who rules Heaven and Earth. As soon as the prince's 
ship entered the harbor of Nha Trang, it was changed into a rock.

The sandalwood maiden remained in Nha Trang and did many good deeds in 
helping the sick and the poor. When she died, a temple was erected in 
her honor and all the people of the city, both Cham and Vietnamese, 
venerate her as their patroness.
Note: The "sandalwood maiden" of this legend is the goddess Po Ino 
Nagar(or simply Po Nagar), the Cham counterpart of the Hindu goddess Uma 
(or Parvati), Siva's sak-ti. Po Nagar is said to have created the Earth, 
rice and sandalwood.

The mention of Ngoc Hoang, the Jade Emperor, supreme divinity of Taoism, 
would make it appear that the version given here is of Taoist inspiration.