Culture and customs of vietnam

Four Confucian classes: sholars (si), peasants (nong), artisans (cong), and merchants (thuong). Basic administrative and social unit – the village. Appearance of three main cities: Hue (preeminent administrative city, where the Emperor resided), Ha Noi (strategically well positioned, capital until now), and Sai Gon (prominent for commercial reasons).

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CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF VIETNAMBook by Mark W. McLeod, Nguyen Thi Dieu1. LAND, PEOPLE, AND LANGUAGEGeographyEthnolinguistic GroupsEthnical Vietnamese derive from a combination of aboriginal Australoid peoples with Indonesian and Mongoloid peoples from outside the region.Viet Nam’s mountains are inhabited by non-Viet ethnic groups, similar to people from Thailand and Laos.H’mong tribe from Northern Viet NamCham girls in the Mekong DeltaKhmer Krom and Cham minorities inhabit lowlands.Chinese also create their own distinct community.The Vietnamese LanguageTonal (has 4 to 6 tones depending on a district);Monosyllabic;Isolating language (words don’t change their forms);Has three writing systems, with only the latest quoc ngu used today.Forms of AddressVietnamese language is permeated with indicators of status and of the relationship between speaker and interlocutor.In family relationships are based in terms of age, sex, generation, paternal and maternal lineage, and marriage.It is customary to address people by given names.2. HISTORY AND INSTITUTIONSPre-Colonial InstitutionsFour Confucian classes: sholars (si), peasants (nong), artisans (cong), and merchants (thuong).Basic administrative and social unit – the village.Appearance of three main cities: Hue (preeminent administrative city, where the Emperor resided), Ha Noi (strategically well positioned, capital until now), and Sai Gon (prominent for commercial reasons).Viet Nam Under French DominationMove from self-sufficient village-level agriculture to export-oriented plantation economy.Many peasants lost land due to tax enforcement and new monopolies.Indochina became world’s leading rice exporter, enriching all but the direct producer.The Rise of NationalismThere were three different stages of resistance against nationalism:Traditionalists, who wanted to restore monarchy;Western oriented noncommunists;Western oriented communists.By repressing the noncommunist nationalists, France inadvertently opened the way for Marxists.Nguyen Sinh Cuong (a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh) founded Indochinese Communist Party in 1930;In 1945, he founded the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (D.R.V.).The Socialist RepublicAfter the war, in 1975 the North was devastated and centralized economic planning failed to meet the growing population’s needs.2 billion dollar annual help from USSR mostly was lost by mismanagement and corruption.Due to political and economical reasons, an exodus of hundreds of thousands began in 1978.The Socialist RepublicIn 1991 Doi Moi (Renovation) was launched, which stated that the Viet Nam Communist Party (VCP) would stay supreme in politics but would partially withdraw from economics to let the market operate.New Rout has dismantled much of the public sector and created the New Poor.No effective regulation caused huge ecological problems.3. THOUGHT AND RELIGIONAnimismBelieve that spirits inhabit rocks, trees, animals, and the rest of the natural world.People should propitiate them to avoid disasters and attract success.Humans have two types of spirits: hon (spiritual) and via (material).TaoismPeople have to act by combining two properties, “concentration” (am) and “expansion” (duong).Taoism in Viet Nam blended with Animism and is indistinguishable today.Taoist masters serve as healers, mediums, and geomancers.BuddhismEntered Viet lands from China and derives from Chinese Mahayana.Served as state religion during middle ages.Fused with other religions, especially animism.ConfucianismStates that people must accept fixed rules in the society.Entered Viet lands during Chinese domination but only in 1400s the Viet rulers adopted it.Family life was influenced by its ideas about the virtues of male domination, ancestor worship and filial piety.CatholicismIntroduced by missionaries in 1500s and was then banned by the monarchs.It’s appeal was enhanced when the missionaries learnt Vietnamese and presented their doctrines to peasants.The French used the “persecution” of Catholics to rationalize attacks on Viet Nam.The New SectsCao DaismTheir beliefs draw upon all the above mentioned religions;Began in 1919, when the Cao Dai supposedly manifested itself to nguyen Van Chieu.Hoa Hao“Hoa Hao Buddhism” was founded by Huynh Phu So;Doctrines were a simplified devotional Buddhism mixed with Animist and Taoist practices.Religion in the Socialist RepublicThe Communist Party doctrinally is atheist and wary of any group capable of challenging its rule;It has banned the practices that it considers to be superstitious, wasteful, or degrading;Even though, it has not waged violent mass campaigns to root outreligious belief per se, as it was in the Soviet Union.4. LITERATUREViet literature is divided in three main categories:Written in Chinese characters;Written in vernacular characters;Written in Romanized Vietnamese;And a sub-group the folk tradition, which was not written.5. ART AND ARCHITECTURECeramicsMaking of ceramics in Viet lands dates to Neolithic times;Took off during 11th-12th centuries (celadon glazed ceramics on the right);Used not only to make pottery, but also figural ceramics used as toys; ornamental ceramics to decorate temple roofs and so forth.CeramicsLacquerwareLacquer items date back to 3rd or 4th century B.C.;Used for preservation or decoration of wooden items;During the French colonial period, artists started using variety of colours, while at the beginning there were only three: black, red, and brown (canh gian – literally the color of cocroach wing).Wood-block printingTypical painting hasn’t developed in pre-colonial Vietnam, so it’s part was taken by wood-block printing;The themes were immutable but varied from familiar rural surroundings as well as from mythological and historical sources, but all carried a symbolism meant to convey wishes; to impart moral lessons; or to satirize.Modern PaintingFrench introduced Viets to Western art by opening Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine (Indochina School of Fine Arts – ISFA) in 1925, in Ha Noi.The first generation graduated from that school was inspired by classicism and romanticism and their works depicted idealized, harmonious settings.First generationWith the partition of the country in 1954, Vietnam witnessed emergence of two schools of art:Northern;Isolated from outer world;Depicted peasants’ and workers’ everyday life;Art was used for propaganda.Southern;Highly exposed to Western influence;Cubism, Abstractionism, and Futurism made had big impact;Vietnamese inspirations.Northern SchoolSouthern SchoolPostwar modern paintingNew opportunities to present exhibits;No more social pressures or moral obligations;Free to travel and experiment.Postwar modern paintingArchitectureInfluenced by China;Depending on its function can be divided in three categories: religious (pagodas, communal houses and deified national-hero temples), military (citadels), and civilian (imperial palaces, habitations of peasants and mandarins, infrastructure, etc.);Geomancy dictated the choice of the site and the orientation of the buildingReligious buildingsMilitary builidingsCivilian buildings6. CUISINEUtensils and MannersRefrigeration was impossible, so food was bought on a daily basis;Food was eaten at a low table or on a bamboo mat;Chopsticks were used to eat solid food and ceramic spoon for soup;Food was served in the middle in the communal bowls and everyone had his/her own rice bowl;Senior male of the household had the right to start and finish eating.UtensilsCereals, Fruits and VegetablesRice has long been the staple of Viet cuisine (the verb “to eat” in Vietnamese is anc com – literately, “to eat rice”) and is eaten steamed; its flour is used to make noodles, rice paper, etc.; rice was fermented into fish paste; and finally distilled to make a variety of alcoholic drinks. Most important fruits: bananas, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, mangoes, papayas, jackfruit, durian, and pineapples.Most widely used vegetables and legumes: soy, convolves, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, and ginger.Durian and jackfruitSweet potatoes, convolves, and soyVegetarianismBuddhist monks abstain from all animal products (including milk and eggs);Some modern lay practitioners follow a vegetarian diet;Most of Buddhists abstain from eating meat during Buddhist festivals and before going to temple;Vietnamese are very creative and can make tofu look and taste exactly like meat.Meat and Meat ProductsMeat products play a relatively small role in the daily diets of most Vietnamese;Most peasants raised fowl (pigeons, chickens, ducks);Elite cuisine utilized larger domesticated animals (goats, oxen, water buffaloes, dogs, and pigs);Game was not popular but as an addition was eaten by both elite (deer, pythons, iguanas, cobras) and peasants (bats, mice).Fish and CrustaceansFish, crustaceans, and batrachians (toads and frogs) made an essential part of Viet’s diet as it has a lot of water at it’s disposal;In the shallow waters were caught tiny fish, crabs, and shrimp;Frogs were hunted within their holes;Fish were taken in deeper rivers, canals, and lakes (used lines with baited hooks, nets);The bottoms of rivers and lakes were also dredged for snails and other mollusks.Fish and CrustaceansFish and CrustaceansWas served directly in variety of dishes;Processed with salt to make condiments and sauces; the most widely used is fish sauce nuoc mam;Additional sources of animal protein were insects, such as palm grub or grasshoppers.Fish and CrustaceansDrinks and DessertsThe main drink from pre-colonial era is tea;Alcoholic drinks were not only for relaxation and entertainment but also used as medicine and as offering to ancestors;Nowadays coffee, beer and other Western drinks are gaining popularity.Tea drinking utensilsViet enjoy a variety of cakes candies and puddings, nowadays ice-cream is getting popular as well.Areca Nuts, Tobacco, and OpiumAreca nut chaw included nuts from the areca palm, betel vine leaves, and lime.Betel chewing stained the teeth unevenly, the solution to the problem was to lacquer teeth entirely black.Tobacco was usually smoked in a long-stemmed water pipe; increased contact with Western world has led to the fact that now almost all Viet men smoke cigarettes.Opium was smoked by a minority during colonial times; now people started using intravenous opiates such as heroine.Areca Nuts, Tobacco, and OpiumDaily Fare in the S.R.V.Eating is considered a very social part of Viet life;People usually eat three times a day;Most meals are eaten with family but fast life pace has changed habits and people eat at the roadside eateries more often.Typical food7. Family, Gender, and Youth CultureThe Vietnamese Family in Pre-colonial TimesPatrilineal and patriarchal;“Clan” through a common male ancestor;Family head – father or grandfather;Three fundamental values: filial piety, moral debt or gratitude, and merit;Arranged marriages; sons were obliged to ensure the continuity of male line;Women in marriage were under authority of her husband as well as her mother-in-law;The Vietnamese Family in Pre-colonial TimesMen were permitted to take several wives;Children were doted upon by their parents;Out of fare that an evil spirit could take away child it was given a coarse nickname;Upon reaching his sixth birthday (Vietnamese kids are considered one at birth) a boy might be sent to the village school;Girls were to stay at home and get their training as future wives.Vietnamese weddingThe Family in Times of WarWars that went on for 30 years have shook the foundations of Vietnamese society;Women had to fulfill roles of men as they were not their anymore;In the Republic of Vietnam (R.V.N.) some women started working toward women’s liberation and passed laws but it did little in practice;In the D.R.V. socialist revolution had to give women equal rights but at the same time they still had their previous duties of household chores, which made it very hard for them.Family Life in the S.R.V.Government started a two children policy to control demographics;Increase of nuclear families (parent’s and their children);Increase in physical abuse against women;Many children born out of wedlock;Polygyny is still a prevailing social phenomenon.Generation 2000Despite the VCP’s try to guide young people in the “right direction”, western ideas seep in their minds;Most young people are material wealth orientated;They want to be fashionable, listen to trendy music and like all that’s associated to the western culture;The only tradition that has survived among youngsters is ao dai, the traditional women’s clothing, worn as girls school uniform as well.Generation 20008. FESTIVALS AND LEISURE ACTIVITIESFestivalsTet Nguyen-dan, or the New Year’s Day;Le Han-tuc, or Cold Foods Festival;Le Than-minh, or Pure Brightness Festival;Le Doan-ngo, or Double Five Festival;Tet Trung-thu, or Mid-Autumn Festival.Group Specific ObservancesChristmas and Easter for Christians;Sakyamuni’s birthday, the day of his enlightenment, and Le Vu-lan for Buddhists;VCP celebrations: the anniversary of founding of the Communist Party; Ho Chi Minh’s birthday; Liberation Day; International Worker’s Day.Leisure Activities (Pre-colonial)Sports;Kite-running;Gambling;Competition between animal, fish, or birds;Competitions in which villagers would mach their strength;Board games (especially chess).Sports and Leisure in Contemporary Viet NamProfessional sport highly popular;People actively participate in sports themselves (tai chi, football, badminton);Cafes and bars, discos;Cinemas;Concerts of Vietnamese pop stars;Games (chess or to toi);Television;Socializing;Karaoke.Sports and Leisure in Contemporary Viet Nam9. PERFORMING ARTSMusic and DanceMusic can be divided into traditional and modern;Within the traditional: court, folkloric, chamber, and liturgical music;Vietnamese music is pentatonic in scale, stressing the voice more than the instrument;Folk songs have been ”modernized” recently to attract younger audiences;Modern music emerged in 1930s;These days Western-style music is on the high.The monochord, sinh tien (coin clapper), and the two-stringed, moon-shaped plucked lute.Traditional (Musical) TheatreEncompassed all the artistic expressions of song, dance, mime, and declamation;No scenery;Has two branches: hat cheo (popular) and hat tuong (classical);Hat cheo – peasant entertainment, acted by farmers;Hat tuong – small groups acting for elite or travelling the villages;In the 1920s was born the “renovated theatre”, consisting of southern Vietnamese music and modern theatre;Modern theatre has been treated as a mean of propaganda by the socialist regime.Traditional (Musical) TheatreWater PuppetryPerformed by villagers, who created a guild;Shown over a body of water;Exclusively Vietnamese.

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