The Celestial King Of Phu Dong

Filed under culture -> myths-and-legends | Wed, 02 Dec 2009 | viewed (1948x)


The Vietnamese myth of origin is so rich that it established many of the great themes of later Vietnamese history: the North-South dichotomy between the Chinese and the Vietnamese; the acknowledgment by the Viets that they belong to a minor lineage, owing respect to the Chinese but still extremely jealous of their independence; the assertion of an independent line of cultural development (for example, Sung Lam, the Dragon Lord of the Lac, was the culture hero who taught agriculture and sericulture to the Vietnamese and not some Chinese administrator, as recorded in history); the implication that the Vietnamese are a mixed race (born of the marriage of a Southerner, the Dragon King, with a Northerner, Au Co); and the oblique assertion that the South can be of such influence that Au Co, originally a Northerner, after her sojourn in the South was no longer recognized as Chinese when she tried to go north with her children.

But another great theme of Vietnamese history was only hinted at in the Vietnamese myth of origin, the theme of resistance to foreign invasion. This was, however, the main theme of the "Story of Phu Dong Thien Vuong," the Celestial King from Phu Dong. M any of the story's events defy common belief: a miracle birth on a lucky number day (the seventh of the first month), the sudden transformation from what appears to be retardation to superhuman intelligence and strength, and then disappearance into the sk y after a smashing victory over foreign invaders.

The story tells of a year in the reign of Hung Vuong VI when the Yin in China attacked Van Lang. The king was anxious to find a general who could withstand them. He sent search parties all over the country.

When they got to Phu Dong village, Tien Du district, Bac Ninh Province, they found a rich man over sixty years old who had a son born in the middle of the day on the seventh of the first [lunar] month. The boy was now three years old but he still could n ot speak, nor could he sit up. When she heard of the search party the mother said jokingly: "Well, I gave birth to this child and he-knows only how to eat. He does not know how to fight the invaders for the court awards so as to return some of my troubl e breast-feeding and mouth-feeding him."

When he heard his mother say so, the boy suddenly said: "Mother, please call in the royal envoys." Flabbergasted, the mother started telling the neighbors about what happened. The latter were overjoyed and immediately went after the royal envoys, inviti ng them to come at once. The envoys said: "You are a child that barely starts to speak, why do you ask us to come?" The child sat up straight and said: "Please go back to court at once and make your presentation to the king asking that an iron horse eig hteen feet tall, a seven-foot long iron sword, an iron whip and an iron helmet be smithed for me. I will ride that horse with my helmet on, the enemy will run in fear, and the king will not have any worry left." The envoys were overjoyed and rushed back to make their presentation to the king. Totally surprised but happy, the king said: "I no longer worry."

... When the envoys came back, the boy's mother was very scared and thought that this time misfortune had overtaken them. She conveyed that thought to her son who merely laughed and said: "All you have to do, Mother, is to give me a whole lot of food and wine. As for the fighting, don't worry, leave it up to me."

Then he grew and grew, and consumed tons of food; the mother was at a loss as to how to feed him. The neighbors also chipped in by killing buffaloes and bringing wine, fruit and cakes galore but the young man did not have his fill. Silk and damask were brought out roll after roll but they barely covered him, people finally had to go and take sedge flowers to tie all the material up so as to cover him.

By the time the Yin troops reached the foot of the Trau Mountain in Vu Ninh, the young man stretched his legs and stood up. He was now over ten feet tall, he turned up his nose and let out more than ten sneezes, unsheathed his sword and yelled: "Here I a m, the General from Heaven!" Then he put on his helmet and rode his horse. The horse reared up, let out a long and powerful neighing, then flew out. In a twinkling both master and horse were in front of the king. The man tapped on his sword and went ah ead, followed by the king's army. Soon they were close to the enemy camp. The enemy fled in terror, those that were left all kowtowed to the Celestial General and pleaded for their lives as they surrendered. The Yin king himself died at this battle.

When he reached Soc Son in the district of Kim Hoa the Celestial General shed his armor and rode his horse into the sky. That was the ninth day of the fourth month, and there are still traces left of him on the rocks in the mountain. The Hung King remem bered his feat and invested him with the title of Celestial King from Phu Dong.


Tagged : phu dong