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Vietnamese Beliefs : Dot Via

From gclchew@yahoo.co.uk Thu May 27 13:02:50 2004
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 01:43:24 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Vietnamese beliefs

Dear all,

I have two questions about Vietnamese beliefs and hope someone will be able to answer or direct me to some references:

(1) I was told that some incantations may take place in the morning to usher in good business for the day. I have forgotten the name of this practice. It could be "dot (v. to burn) ~ " .

(2)Are odd numbers deem less auspicious than even?

Hope to hear something soon.

Best,
Grace

From paglaicc@hawaii.edu Thu May 27 13:03:00 2004
Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 19:11:29 -1000
From: Gino Paglaiccetti <paglaicc@hawaii.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Aloha Grace;

I will hazard a response based on a general traditional East Asian (Sinic) numerological aesthetic...and that is that odd numbers are usually more auspicious... The numbers 1, 3, 5 and 9 are extremely important in correlative thinking (though 7 doesn't seem to be so important). Odd numbers are also representative of yin, and thus considered feminine.

This type of numerology is present in traditional Vietnamese times...I would love to know if it is different nowadays.

Gino
UHawaii

From gclchew@yahoo.co.uk Thu May 27 13:03:07 2004
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 08:53:16 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Gino,

Thanks. It's interesting.

I am trying to check if the Vietnamese have the same ideas about numerology as the Chinese, especially for the number "1". There are minor differences across dialect groups in Chinese, e.g. the Cantonese think "7" is a good one ( "7" sounds like "sure" in Cantonese), but to the Fujians, it's not. The odd numbers are "yang" and the evens, "yin".

Best,
Grace

From daoduc@u.washington.edu Thu May 27 13:03:13 2004
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 01:09:53 -0700 (PDT)
From: daoduc@u.washington.edu
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Vietnamese beliefs

Dear Grace,

Do you mean "dot via". It's not necessary to be done in the morning but before one starts her business or when she has no buyers. She belief that she can get rid of bad luck. I observe that this practice is performed mostly by women.
--Duc

Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 10:15:45 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Dot via

That's it! Thanks, Duc.

But can you describe it a bit more? How can you tell if someone 'dang dot via' vs. the normal worshipping? What are objects you will identify with 'dot via'?

Thanks again,
Grace

Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 16:28:57 +0700
From: Toan <tyt@fpt.vn>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Vietnamese beliefs

Hi all:

I believe 'dot via' could be performed by anyone here, men or women. I often see it performed by 'small-trade' people:
- you go to a retailer's shop, especially in the morning, make a bargain, then refuse to buy anything. The shop assistant would 'dot via' when you leave, seeing you off with a lot of bad words.
- an intercity bus is about to leave for its trip. A woman happens to walk by seeing you off with a lot of bad words.
- an intercity bus is about to leave for its trip. A woman happens to walk by in front of the vehicle. The driver would 'dot via', before starting the engine again.

Warm regards,
Toan
tyt@fpt.vn

Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 12:52:21 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Dot via

Toan,
Hay qua.
Nhung dot giay vang, hoac la thap may nen huong nhu luc cung to tien va noi ra may cau la xong? Co nhung dac trung gi? Dot gi? Noi gi? Neu duoc, hay noi chi tiet hon mot ty vi Grace chua bao gio nghin thay ai dot via ca.
Cam on!
Grace

From paglaicc@hawaii.edu Thu May 27 13:14:03 2004
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 07:41:34 -1000
From: Gino Paglaiccetti <paglaicc@hawaii.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Ahh, there may be a difference between elite and popular beliefs (based on phonetic correspondence and punning). In terms of high culture, other than the "7 sages of the bamboo grove" (zhu lin qi xian) I know of no other good '7' usage.

If, in terms of "1" you are talking philosophically and you are referring to ideas like 'yi yi guan zhi'°ì°Ê´ÓÇ• (the unity that pervades) or 'yi duo bu fen' (one/many can't be divided) (or yi duo bu fen guan) then yes, any east Asian that was involved with the yijing or any type of (especially) Zhuxi-influenced elite learning would have a similar view on the importance of yi/nhat.

On a similar note, 4 si is tabooed in many East Asian countries because it puns with si 'death.' Do Vietnamese follow this even though they have a vernacular equivalent 'bon' for Sino-Viet 'tu'? Japanese and Koreans, which also have different vernacular equivalents for 4, still follow it; sometimes there is no '4th' floor of hospitals.

Gino
UH

 

From hhtai@fas.harvard.edu Thu May 27 13:14:09 2004
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 13:58:52 -0400
From: Tam Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

I do not recall 4 being taboo. Besides tu (4) and tu (death) have different tones, so cannot be confused. However, 5, 11 and 23 were deemed inauspicious days, especially for starting on a journey or a venture. When giving presents, however, it is considered unlucky to give uneven numbers of certain things like handkerchiefs.

I believe that in Hong Kong certain numbers may be considered either luckier or more unlucky than others based on local pronounciation, which may not apply to non-Cantonese speaking areas of China.

From jhannah@u.washington.edu Thu May 27 13:14:31 2004
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 20:43:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Joe Hannah <jhannah@u.washington.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

I am told that in Vietnam it is unlucky to take pictures of odd-numbered groups, e.g., 3 or 5 people. One person in a photo is OK, and there does not seem to be a problem if the group is very large, however.

It is also deemed unlucky to photograph pregnant women, and my wife Hien quips that perhaps that is because no one knows whether to count them as one or two people... ;-)

Joe

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 10:51:21 +0700
From: Toan <tyt@fpt.vn>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via

Grace than men:

Hay qua, Grace dung tieng Viet. (Are you Vietnamese, or Vietnamese-speaking, if I may ask?)

- Co nguoi dot huong, 1 /3 /5 nen huong (i.e. que huong). Co nguoi khong dot huong.
- Rat it nguoi dung tien ma (tien am phu).
- Thuong thi nguoi ta lay bat cu thu gi co the dot ra lua, nhieu khi chi la 1 to giay loai, 1 to giay goi hang da bo di cung duoc. Cai chinh la phai tao ra lua. (I will explain more below.)
- Nguoi ta tin rang via cua mot so nguoi rat 'nang' hoac rat 'du'. Neu nhung nguoi nay la nguoi dau tien den mac ca, (nhat la lai so mo vao hang), roi khong mua thi nguoi ta tin rang ca ngay hom do se khong ban duoc hang, hoac ban duoc rat it. Ma 'via' thi lai so 'hoa' (tuc la lua). Neu dot lua thi co the xua duoc 'via du' di.
- Nhieu nguoi qua me tin, den noi ho 'dot via' trong suot ca buoi sang, cu moi khi co nguoi den hang ma khong mua.
- Trong khi 'dot via' moi nguoi noi mot kieu. Chu yeu thuong gom 'lay Gioi, lay Phat con dot via de xua via du di, don via lanh den. (Excuse me, but). Thang kia, con kia, moi sang ngay ra may den hang tao ma may khong mua, may se the nay ... the kia ... (chet duong, chet cho, etc.), and many many other very dirty things.
- Chu yeu moi nguoi khi dot via, deu huo huo ngay tren mat hang vua bi hoi, hoac bi so vao. Cung co nguoi thap mot nen huong, roi cam luon len tren mat hang do.
- Mot so nguoi qua me tin thi khi to giay dot via dang chay ho nem luon qua hang (the space between the legs). Co nguoi dot via bang mot to giay, nem xuong dat, roi buoc qua.

Hope this somehow helps, and very sorry if I have been too specific in some description.

Warm regards,
Toan
tyt@fpt.vn

From tyt@fpt.vn Thu May 27 13:14:41 2004
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 11:27:59 +0700
From: Toan <tyt@fpt.vn>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Hi all:

1. 'inauspicious days'
According to Vietnamese 'old' culture, traditions, and custom, the following days are considered as 'inauspicious', in my understanding:
1a. 5, 14 & 23 = 'nguyet sat' days
1b. 3, 7, 8, 13, 18, 22 & 27 = 'tam nuong' days
1c. some other days which are 'ngay tuoi'.
(Sorry but I do know the English equivalents for these days.)

Additionally:
- 'Mong 5, 18, 23, di choi cung lo nua la di buon' = If you go out to enjoy yourself on 5th, or 18th, or 23rd, you will lose profits, letting alone going out to do business.
- 'Cho di ngay 7, cho ve ngay 3' = Do not start a trip on 7th, do not start a return-trip on 3rd.

2. 'certain numbers may be considered either luckier ... ... based on local pronounciation'
I know one group of numbers. Many people here in Vietnam, especially ones with some Chinese origin, like '6868' for the number-plates of their vehicles. It is because it sounds like 'loc phat - loc phat' (luckiness is growing).

Warm regards,
Toan
tyt@fpt.vn

From: Grace Chew [mailto:gclchew@yahoo.co.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 11:54 AM
To: Vietnam Studies Group
Subject: Re: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Today seems auspicious - thanks to all of you (Dao Duc,Gino,Tam Tai,Toan and Joe)for my "bountiful harvest" of information. It's the 18th, that's why!("Phat" chac!)

Toan, I 'm a "tay rau muong". Jokes aside, I am a "tay ma thich an rau muong" , for all its great properties. (I'm not going into the specifics). Da tung song tai Hanoi.

Grace

Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 22:59:17 -0700 (PDT)
From: daoduc@u.washington.edu
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via

I should add that to throw a piece of burning paper through her legs to the back or walk over it is one of important parts of this practice. According to Tran Tu in his "The Muong of Hoa Binh" when he writes about "dot via", the lower part of women's body is considered as unclean. Therefore, the problem is about meanings and not of "too superstition". A question remains is that whether men's body has the same meaning that allow them perform the same practice.
--Duc

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 06:21:17 -0400
From: Tam Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via

Joe:

It's unlucky for pregnant women to be included in weddings and funerals as well.

Hue-Tam

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 18:00:45 +0700
From: Toan <tyt@fpt.vn>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via

Hue-Tam, Joe, and others:

Well, my understandings are:

1. It is fine for pregnant women to go attending to funerals. Maybe it is because of 'Sinh du. Tu lanh' (Birth is bad. Death is good.)

2. It will not be good for the unborn babies if their mothers go attending to wedding parties, or have photos taken. When born these babies will become ungraceful and/or insipid (vo duyen) people (because their mothers have laughed too much?).

Warm regards,
Toan
tyt@fpt.vn

From m.digregorio@fordfound.org Thu May 27 13:14:58 2004
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 03:47:00 -0700
From: Michael DiGregorio <m.digregorio@fordfound.org>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Actually, Grace, today is the 30th "am lich." And only "am" counts with numbers.

Just try making an appointment for an interview in the countryside and watch the fingers count through the days to find out whether a visit would be possible. It all starts by knowing when the first and fifteenth of the month fall. Most of what remains can be figured out by counting the 12 joints on the fingers with the thumb.

Very important stuff to know. 5, 11 and 23 as Prof. Tai notes, are not the best days to show up at someone's' front door for an unannounced interview or survey.

Mike DiGregorio

From gclchew@yahoo.co.uk Thu May 27 13:15:01 2004
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 14:12:45 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Michael,
Actually I was just joking when I talked about today, the 18th, being auspicious. But what you've raised is interesting - that counting with the joints of the fingers. I remembered when I paid my first rent at TDHNN's dorm in HN, the receptionist did that. My Swiss friend and I couldn't understand why the joints were used. An old jeweller in HN did the same when I asked for an appointment to see how he made silver rings- even though I am not, and was not a jeweller!

Cheers, thanks.

From jht29@cornell.edu Thu May 27 13:15:09 2004
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 11:55:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jason Hoai Tran <jht29@cornell.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Vietnamese beliefs/numerology

Dear Grace,

I found your inquiries into Vietnamese numerology very interesting. If we wish to investigate the ‘elite’ intellectual understanding of “traditional” numerology, it may be helpful to look into influences from phong-thuy. The geomancers compass, used in determining the phong-thuy of a given site is calculated according to a ‘Nine Palace’ formation (Cuu-cong/Jiugong). The Nine Palaces themselves are derived from the ‘Eight Trigrams’ (Bat-quai/Bagua) by associating each trigram with a direction and assigning it a number. A center number (5) is added to make nine total numbers. In the geomancer’s compass, these nine numbers are compared with the numbers derived from each section of the site and the numbers assigned to the year of construction and the current year (following am lich).

In general (there are always exceptions to the rules in phong thuy), 5 is the most inauspicious number, followed by 2 (khon). 9 (ly) is a violent number that is either extremely lucky or very inauspicious (and thereby precarious). 3 (chan) and 7 (doai) are malevolent, but to a lesser extent. 1 (kham), 4 (ton), 6 (kien), and 8 (can) are lucky to varying extents. Notice that (except for the eighth day?) all of the unlucky days Toan sent us either have the numbers 5, 2, 3, 7 or add up to the numbers 5, 9.

I have an article online that outlines the derivation of the Eight Trigrams and the Nine Palaces (see pg 8), though it is only remotely related to your inquiry. I would however encourage you to read Dr Stephen Field’s article sited in my bibliography.

http://www.rso.cornell.edu/sevenspirits/articles/than_quyen.pdf

I cannot speak of folk beliefs and local customs. However, I am very interested in it. Please keep me informed.

-Hoai

PS If you would like a copy with thorough citations, just let me know.

--
Tran K. Hoai
Cornell University
Department of East Asian Literature
388 Rockefeller
Ithaca, NY 14850
202.277.2094

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 10:16:58 -0700 (PDT)
From: dnfox@u.washington.edu
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via, lam nha

Vui lam, all this talk--cho toi nho.
And one thing I nho only indistinctly--can anyone help? A young (in his 20's) architect son of one of my friends once explained to me how you have to be careful to count the steps you build into a house, so that you don't end up with "chet" on the last step. It has to do with the stages of life: sinh, benh, lao, chet, I think. Am I forgetting something?

Diane

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 10:26:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tram Dang <tt1dang@u.washington.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via, lam nha

I think you've got all the stages, but I normally hear people call the last stage "tu*?" instead of "chet" -- "sinh, benh, lao, tu" :-)

Tram

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 14:22:55 -0400
From: Tam Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via, lam nha

I agree with Tram. All the terms are Sino-Vietnamese, so tu must be used instead of chet.

Hue-Tam

Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 08:57:50 +0800
From: "Avieli, Nir" <arian@nus.edu.sg>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Dot via, lam nha

Hi
Great discussion
Diane, as far as I know, these terms belong (also?) to the roof beams, which represent the circle of life and rebirth and must always be 5 or 9: 1.sinh (born) 2. lao (old) 3. binh (disease) 4. tu (death, and without hoi 4) 5. sinh (re-birth). Thus, if you end up entering the house in the 4th or 8th step, it would be a death-related step...

Grace, it would be great if, when the discussion will be over, you could copy and paste all the responses and re-distribute them. I did not expect this wealth of material and did not save all of it thanks

Nir

Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 01:17:08 GMT
From: Hoang t. Dieu-Hien <dieuhien@u.washington.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Language and culture

What a fun discussion. I'd only like to add two things.

All cultures have many subcultures. Vietnamese culture is no exception. There are people who believe it's OK for a pregnant woman to be photographed, there are those who don't. For those who don't, there will be different reasons for different groups. The same goes with pregnant women and funerals and weddings.
With ddo^'t vi'a, Chinese-Vietnamese in the South have their own version of incantation and ritual, which are different from those of the Kinhs who are Buddhists. (I really enjoyed reading the incantation you gave the list. Thanks, Toan.) Oh, and Chinese-Vietnamese is not one group either. Well, you got my drift.

The other thing is, when discussing the Vietnamese language, I find it very frustrating, almost meaningless, to do it without the da^'u. The current discussion on <tu+'> and <tu+?> is a case in point. It is like, for those of us who speak English as a foreign language, discussing prepositions such as <n> and < n> without using the vowels. Prepositions are as confusing to us to use as tones to a native speaker of a non-tonal language. Tones in Vietnamese are like vowels in English. If one leaves the tone out when one writes a word, n h s m ssp ll d th t w rd. [one has misspelled that word]

Cheers,
Dieu-Hien

Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 22:43:51 -0400
From: Tam Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Dot via

I think the idea that the space between women's legs is unclean is related to the idea of female blood pollution due to menses or birthing. It would not apply to men.

On 8 as a lucky number: In Hong Kong 8 is a lucky number because it sounds like fa (phat) as in phat dat, "to prosper." This is stretching things quite a bit. My mother-in-law once reported that a license plate carrying the number 888 was auctioned off for tens of thousands of dollars. By the same token, 4, which sounds like "death" is unlucky.

Hue-Tam

From gclchew@yahoo.co.uk Thu May 27 13:15:47 2004
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 14:15:35 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Salt

Dear friends,

(1) Avieli has asked for what we have discussed so far to be "cut and pasted" in a document and then distributed to all. I will be glad to do that. But I will be leaving for a symposium in Spain in a few days to present a paper related to the field of "Communication" in VN and am worrying about an "innundated" inbox and mails which will be lost as a result. I will only be able to paste whatever I have in my mailbox. Also,only if you all won't mind receiving a document with some 'unreadable' symbols -both my computer and my laptop are run on Japanese
Microsoft for my reading of Japanese information etc, and a few among those who have patiently responded to my "khao sat tieng Viet" have whinged about those symbols. Again, if you think your nerves will not be frayed, I will go ahead and do it after coming home. Do expect some period of "silence" from me.

(2) Some of you may be happy to receive this piece of information from Tess Do of Uni Melbourne, who kindly sent it to me yesterday. It's "hay phet(!)" but "so qua" if the salt is a representation of the "body". I am wondering what salt represents... In Chinese, "salt" seems to be an element related to the issues of "life" and "death" - but I can't say for sure. From the speech of old Chinese folks, "salt" also seems to symbolise "the experiences of life". Any comments?

Tess wrote:

I belive that there is another custom a bit similar to "dot via" because it involves fire as well: when you have an unwanted visitor who stays on and on, and you want to get rid of him (of course, Vietnamese people are too polite to tell the other to get lost, too polite to say "Sorry but I am busy now, can you come back later" like a Westerner, and our customs do not allow us to be so
fortright either, consequently your visitor would take that "Sorry..." as an offense!) you secretly throw a handful of salt into your open fire (in the old time, all households had in their kitchen a coal fire [lo` than] for cooking, and to save time, they kept it always burning with probably some kind of cooking going on all day long [khoai lang nuong, khoai lang lu`i]). This gesture was believed to make the unwanted visitor leave (metaphorically burning him? his feet? so he can't sit still and has to go?)

I have seen "dot via" before (not my "via" fortunately) and it is still done nowadays by some Vietnamese shopkeepers in Australia. But I will let Toan reply to you.

Best wishes,
Tess Do

(3) And some info on "via" I have saved some time ago : McLeod Mark and Nguyen Thi Dieu 2001 "Culture and Customs of VN" . 44-45

Humans were believed to have two kinds of souls: three hon, and seven (for men) or nine (for women) phach or via. Distinctions are made between the hon, considered to be more spiritual, and the via, more material. Some via were thought to be helpful entries, called via lanh, (‘kind’ spirits), while others, via xau (‘wicked’ spirits), were malicious. A person could harbor good and evil via , and people known to have via xau are avoided. Spirits entered the body at conception or birth, and the day of birth is called ngay via, ‘spirit day’.

>>>>So from what I have read from the above and Toan's and Tess's emails, the customer who doesn't buy has "wicked" spirit, or the "nang" and "du" spirit. Also, women have nine via. So this makes women's via "nang" hon?

Best,
Grace

Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 17:20:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jason Hoai Tran <jht29@cornell.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Salt

Dear Grace and VSG,

As for the Tam-hon That-phach (3 ethereal spirits and 7 corporeal spirits); there are at least 3 compound Han-Viet words that describe ‘spirit’ in Vietnamese: tinh-than, than-quy, and hon-phach (another is linh-hon, but that is a different issue). The origin of these phrases likely originates from Chinese Daoist theories of spiritual alchemy (khi-cong). The spirit (or soul) was thought to have 5 aggregate parts, each of which was associated with an element. According to the Noi Kinh they are: Creative spirit - Than (fire, sometimes Linh), Ethereal Spirit - Hon (wood), Essence ‘Tinh (earth, sometimes chi or y), Corporeal Spirit’ Phach (metal), and Ghost spirit - Quy (water, sometimes tinh). These 5 were used to describe Khi energy in the soul/mind. After death, it was thought that the Ethereal Khi (hon) was light and rises like steam to the sky. Corporeal Khi (phach) was though to my murky, and returned to the earth as does low lying mist. Depending on the individual’s level of cultivation, after death their remaining energy would either favor Quy, and they would become an earthly wandering ghost, or become Than, a heavenly being. Tinh is the Khi energy inherited at birth from one’s parents.

Hon was considered wood and more yang; Phach was considered metal, and more yin. Thus, Hon was the part of the soul that was intellectual, quick, and witty. Phach was more subtle and reserved. Eastern medicine still holds that the Hon Khi is stored in the liver; Phach Khi in the lungs. Today we can think of them as Hon intellectual mind, and Phach the instinctive mind.

Ancient Chinese Daoists, particularly Bao Phac Tu (Master embracing un-carved wood), elaborated on the theory of Hon-Phach creating the 3 hon and 7 phach. Bao Phac Tu (Internal Chapter- Dia-Chan): Those who wish to comprehend the soul (than) should separate metal and water [energy - khi] so that they take shape. When these shapes are delineated you will naturally see that within the body are three ethereal spirits and seven corporeal spirits.

According to another ancient Chinese text, the Van Cap That Thiem: ‘All people have three ethereal spirits in their bodies. The first is called Embryo Light (Thai-quang). It is the harmonized Khi of great pure Yang energy. The second is Bright Spirit (Sang Linh). It is fluctuating Yin energy. The third is Mysterious Essence (U Tinh). It is the parent of Yin energy^Å All humans have seven corporeal spirits: Corpse Dog (Thi-cau), Arrow in Ambush (Phuc-thi), Pheasant Yin (Tuoc-am), Swallowing Rebel (Thon-tac), Non-poison (Phi-doc), Eliminating Filth (Tru-ue), and Smelly Lung (xu-phi). These are the seven corporeal spirits, the muddled ghosts of the human body.

There is a more detailed discussion of hon-phach in the article I sited earlier.

If you find out anything about the salt allusion, please let me know.

-Hoai

--
Tran K. Hoai
Cornell University
Department of East Asian Literature
388 Rockefeller
Ithaca, NY 14850
202.277.2094

From dnfox@u.washington.edu Thu May 27 13:16:08 2004
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 17:01:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: dnfox@u.washington.edu
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu
Subject: Re: Salt

Nice--thanks. And tam linh? (vi du: mot coi tam linh?)

Diane

Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 02:28:28 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE:Salt

Jason,
Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I am wondering if J. Needham's series will have the answer.
Grace

Date: Sat, 29 May 2004 13:15:59 +0200
From: Line Gram Knudsen <line_g_k@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Dot via, lam nha

Hello and thanks for a great discussion,
I've heard that it is also dangerous for pregnant women and women with newborn children to attend funerals (and not just weddings). Especially the second burial where the bones are cleaned is dangerous. Does anyone have an idea why funerals are particularly dangerous to women with a newborn child (up to one month old) and to pregnant women? Could it have something to do with the poisonous air ('khi doc'/ 'hoi doc') that infects the participants at the second burial?
-Line

 

From gclchew@yahoo.co.uk Fri Jun 18 10:47:53 2004
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 11:28:03 +0100 (BST)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Grace Chew" <gclchew@yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Chu Nom; Thien Hau Niang Niang etc
 

Friends online,

I got out of Portugal in time to avoid two leagues checking into the pousada...

On serious things:
(1) First, many, many thanks to those (Tess, Toan, Tam Tai,Jason Tran, Dao Duc, Gino,Michael, Diane,Nir et al - the list is long) who have contributed to the discussion on "Dot via, lam nha, and numerology." Will keep you, Jason,informed when I find something on that "salt allusion".

(2)Thank you, Judith, for your replies and the website address where we can follow everything we have missed in our absence. Very neat.

(3)George, would you consider adding one or two readings on the Nom script? I think it is unique to VN and encodes cultural elements which are very difficult to decode... The Institute of Han-Nom will be able to provide some useful references,if you are interested.

(4)I also want to thank these people who have responded to my earlier survey on tieng Viet: Tran So Le,Vu Hong Anh,Viet Hoang, Minh Nguyen, and Huong Giang (hopefully I haven't missed any). My results are no conclusive yet and I am waiting for the next set of results from HN.

(5)Does anyone know when the birthday of the Queen of Heaven (known as 'Thien Hau' amongst nguoi Viet goc Hoa) is? I have a list of the dates of Buddhist rituals but don't happen to have that of the Daoist.

Cheers,
Grace


From transole@u.washington.edu Fri Jun 18 10:48:00 2004
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 14:16:55 -0700 (PDT)
From: Le S. Tran <transole@u.washington.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Chu Nom; Thien Hau Niang Niang etc

Hi, I have some information regarding the question of the birthday of the Queen of Heaven (known as 'Thien Hau' amongst nguoi Viet goc Hoa). According to the legend, she was born in the Song Dynasty ( China, year 960), the sixth child in a family name "Lin", in Fujian, China. She was born with halo and fragance. She usually traveled up at sea by riding on a carpet when she grew up. She died in 987 at the age of 27, and turned out to be awe-inspiringly powerful ("hie^?n linh" in Vietnamese). She was conferred as "Tian Fei" in the "Yuan" Dynasty. "Qian Long" in Qing Dynasty (Can Long, nha Thanh)then conferred her as "The Queen of Haven" "Tian hou mu" or "Tian hou Niang Niang" (in Chinese) and "Ba Thien Hau" (in Vietnamese) and this name exist until now.
Even though there are different legends of her, but she has been generally praised as the symbol of women's virtue, sacrifice and help people. Chinese Dynasty highlighted her image in order to educate people moral principles. The Chinese who experienced the hardship on the sea to the south ( Southeast Asia including Vietnam) to seek new means of subsistence always prayed her for protection. When they arrived, doing good business and gathering together, they built the 'temple' to express their deep gratitude toward her.
There are some famous 'temples' which worship her, for example, "Chua Ba Thien Hau" in District 5, HCMC, "Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien" in Hoi An, or Chua Ba Thien Hau in Binh Duong Province. Lots of people come to worship at the 1st and 15th of every lunar month. And her birthday, the 15th of the 1st lunar month (I guess, not totally sure, I have to check) has become festival in these places. ( For more information of Thien Hau Pagoda Festival, in Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong, please see this website: http://vietnam.sawadee.com/festsouth.htm )
Hope this helps a little bit,
Le
 

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