Revolution and Its Tutelary Spirit
in the Village of My Hoa Hung
Like Peter Zinoman's and Shaun Malarney's studies in this volume, this chapter focuses on one particular commemorative practice employed by the Communist Party–dominated state in Vietnam to satisfy its need for appropriate self-representation and to shape and control the ways in which the past is remembered. But whereas the commemorative messages in highly selective and stylized prison memoirs analyzed by Zinoman and in official ceremonies for the war dead discussed by Malarney seem, at least superficially, to possess an internal consistency, it is inconsistency in message and form that appears at first sight in the object of this investigation. The commemoration in his native place of Ton Duc Thang (1888–1980), one of Vietnam's most prominent Communist revolutionaries, a southerner who became the country's second president, contains an ostensible paradox. It can be found in the fact that the remembrance by the Party of one of its heroes has taken on openly religious forms since the mid to late 1980s. Put differently, a paradox suggests itself when, under a selfproclaimed secular, even areligious political regime, the childhood home of this highranking Communist in My Hoa Hung village in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang has been turned into a shrine where popular rituals of hero spirit worship are performed.
Closely tied to the shrine of Ton Duc Thang are several museum exhibits in the south of Vietnam that present versions of the life of this leading public persona. These historical displays not only are
First, religious or quasireligious forms of popular or stateled veneration of revolutionary heroes are by no means a new phenomenon— one might only mention the widespread talismanic use of renderings of Mao Zedong's image among Chinese—and have been observed in East and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. But especially in the last case, too little attention has been paid thus far to explaining the social conditions in which these worshiping practices appear, or the ideological-cultural concepts that undergird them and lend these rituals their meanings (and would steer us away from superficially seeing them as paradox).
Second, the analytical or theoretical tools of international debates, for example, in museology, while generally useful, possess certain limitations in describing historical representation and museum projects in Vietnam. Again, an attempt should be made to understand more from “within” how local Vietnamese contexts have shaped the specific forms in which these exhibits have appeared.
Third, with the growing interest in issues such as historical memory, commemorations, the “invention of tradition” (to refer to Hobsbawm), public ceremonies, symbols, and the (re)fashioning of historic sites—in Vietnam and elsewhere—what has tended to become emphasized are disjunctures, shifts, contestations, and tensions, discursive and otherwise. While these foci certainly can yield important insights and help undermine longheld assumptions, they have been remarkably weak in constructing counterarguments of an explanatory inclusiveness. In the case of the socalled Commemorative Area for Ton Duc Thang in An Giang, an analysis of the shrine and the adjacent museum can easily— and legitimately—demonstrate the stark contrast between the two structures, their inherent contradictions vis-à-vis the revolutionary master script of Marxian provenance, or the multiplicity of contending voices and signs. In this chapter, however, I want to move beyond the uncovering of tensions and instead propose a view—one view—of the Ton Duc Thang worship in which its various elements, far from being paradoxical, might merge into a culturally coherent and intelligible message, with the shrine providing the form and the museum exhibit its contents.
In the end, I will propose that such an integrated commemorative statement, veiled as it might manifest itself at the Ton Duc Thang shrine, needs to be read within its proper regional context. The southern museum-shrine—itself an instrument of official memory construction— seeks to modify and even subtly critique the predominant representations of revolution and war emanating from the North. This last aspect of my argument points to critical differences among the three studies in this volume that are otherwise related in their focus on commemoration by the Communist state. For example, Peter Zinoman does more than Malarney and myself in analyzing the narrative strategies and conventions built into a particular commemorative genre, and how such a customized version of revolution “worked” in the interest of the state leadership. More so than Zinoman and myself, Shaun Malarney is concerned with the popular reception (emendation, supplementation) of such stateinitiated practices—a perspective largely absent from this chapter because, as I will argue, Ton Duc Thang's shrine does not target the local population as its primary audience. Rather, my chapter shows that stateorganized commemoration in Vietnam is not a unified or uniform project, but that even official interpretations of the commemorated past vary in space and time; that is, they are subject to important regional and generational differences. In this sense, Ton Duc Thang's museum-shrine can be seen as an intervention in a debate where, despite its muted and hidden nature, nothing less is at stake than the selfidentity of the revolutionary camp.
In 1887, Ton Duc Thang's parents, Ton Van De (d. 1938) and Nguyen Thi Di (d. 1947), built a house in the hamlet of My An, which belongs to the village of My Hoa Hung. The village is situated on Ong Ho island in the lower Mekong River, just four kilometers from Long Xuyen, the commercial and administrative center of An Giang province. Ton Duc Thang, born in 1888, was the couple's first child. Being a boy, he was tutored, probably from 1897 at the latest to about 1901, by a private teacher in Long Xuyen, who likely had contacts with the famed anticolonialist Phan Boi Chau (when the latter came to An Giang in 1902to recruit for his Eastern Travel Movement [Phong Trao Dong Du]) and, later on, with the anti-French conspiracy of 1916 under emperor Duy Tan. Ton Duc Thang's commemorators in An Giang stress the great influence of this fervent anticolonialist teacher on Ton Duc Thang's early politicization. Ton Duc Thang received instruction in the Chinese script
We do not know how frequently Ton Duc Thang returned to his childhood home between 1906 and 1929, the beginning of his sixteen years of imprisonment under the French. In fact, as is the case with many other aspects of his biography, little of a concrete nature can be said at all about this period of his life. From 1906 to 1915, Ton Duc Thang allegedly became a worker in Saigon and was involved in several early protest strikes there. Records show that he was admitted to Indochina's only vocational school, the Saigon School for Asian Mechanics (Ecole des me´caniciens asiatiques de Saı¨gon), in 1915, but left a year later for metropolitan wartime service at the naval arsenal in the southern French port of Toulon.
His sojourn as a navy mechanic in France lasted from 1916 to 1920. During that time Ton Duc Thang is said to have accomplished his most famous revolutionary deed. In late 1918, France sent a flotilla to the Black Sea as part of the Allied entry into the Russian civil war on the side of “white,” counterrevolutionary forces. The anti-Bolshevik intervention collapsed in the spring of 1919 amid widespread mutinies of these French navy units. Ton Duc Thang was not among the French expeditionary force in the Black Sea. But since the late 1940s or early 1950s, Vietnamese Communist propagandists and historians have celebrated him for his active and crucial involvement in the Black Sea mutiny as crew member of a French warship. In defense of Soviet Russia, Ton Duc Thang supposedly even raised a red flag on his naval vessel. This fabricated story has become the basis for propagandistically connecting the Russian and Vietnamese revolutions in an act of imagined ancestry.
Back in Saigon, from 1920 to 1929, Ton Duc Thang apparently was active in early efforts to organize workers. In 1925, he claims to have directed a famous strike of navy shipyard workers, which historian Tran Van Giau subsequently called Vietnam's “first political” walkout. In 1926, he joined the newly formed local branch of the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League (Viet Nam Thanh Nien Cach Mang Dong Chi Hoi, or, in brief, Thanh Nien), a forerunner to the Vietnamese Communist Party, which had been organized the previous year by Nguyen Ai Quoc (later to become Ho Chi Minh) in Guangzhou in southern China. Ton Duc Thang quickly rose in the ranks of the Vietnamese
After his arrest in 1929, Ton Duc Thang would revisit his childhood home only twice. In the wake of the August Revolution of 1945, when the Communistled Viet Minh, the League for the Independence of Vietnam, seized power, and Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), Ton Duc Thang was liberated from sixteen years of incarceration on the infamous Con Dao prison islands in the South China Sea. Shortly thereafter, in November 1945, he made his way to My Hoa Hung to see his old mother. But since he was in danger of being captured by the French, who by then had largely retaken control of the South, he stayed only one night, as the story goes, before making his way north to Hanoi to join the DRV government. Subsequently, the French War (1946–54) broke out, followed by Vietnam's division at the seventeenth parallel, massive American intervention in the 1960s and 1970s, and more, drawnout warfare. And thus Ton Duc Thang's next trip back home would not take place until after the end of the American War, in October 1975, after the de facto unification of the North and the South, when then-president Ton Duc Thang was able to visit his native place one last time.
The thirty years in between those two final visits to his birthplace had seen Ton Duc Thang's rapid rise to political prominence in the DRV, even though his actual influence in the power structure of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) always remained negligible. His leadership of, among others, the National Assembly, the United (later, Fatherland)Front, and the USSR-Vietnam Friendship Association, as well as his vice presidency under Ho Chi Minh after 1960 and his presidency from 1969to his death in 1980, attest to the representational usefulness of Ton Duc Thang for the Communist Party–led state. This can be explained by his seniority—he surpassed all other party leaders in terms of both age and the length of imprisonment under the French—and his unique symbolic value in multiple capacities: as an undisputed proletarian, anticolonial revolutionary, alleged internationalist activist, and a southerner (reinforcing the DRV's claim to authority over all of Vietnam).
In 1984, four years after his death, the Ministry of Culture, upon the suggestion of local cadres, declared Ton Duc Thang's childhood home a culturalhistoric monument. After Ton Duc Thang's brother Ton Duc Nhung (b. 1896) and sister-in-law (b. 1897) both died in 1986, their son's family moved to an adjacent building, and renovations of the original house and the creation of a “commemorative area” (khu luu niem)
In August 1988, in celebration of Ton Duc Thang's hundredth birthday, the commemorative area in My Hoa Hung was solemnly inaugurated.
Ton Duc Thang's childhood home is a rather large structure on pillars, with well over one hundred square meters of living space (fig. 3.1). The house has at least four bedrooms, the main living room, and a spacious porch. Some of the walls show elaborate wood carvings, and the interior is decorated with valuable furniture and several large pieces of lacquer art. The main item on display, in the center of the house and its living room, is an altar with Ton Duc Thang's portrait, electric candles, decorative plants, and incense burners. Behind Ton Duc Thang's altar and standing along a wall is a second altar that can more easily be identified as a traditional place for ancestral veneration. This function is underscored by the display around it of photos of Ton Duc Thang's parents, brother, and sister-in-law. The neatly kept grave sites of these four relatives, which are equally important in Vietnamese practices of ancestral worship, are situated behind the building and consciously drawn into the overall exhibit by way of a wellmaintained, wellmarked path.
The nearby exhibition building (erected about fifty meters from Ton Duc Thang's childhood home) is a large, rectangular concrete structure on pillars standing in water. Its design hardly conveys the impression,
Figure 3.1. The author and Ton Duc Thang's nephew in front of Ton's childhood home and shrine, My Hoa Hung village, An Giang. Photograph by Christoph Giebel.
The exhibit itself consists mainly of pictures tracing Ton Duc Thang's life in chronological manner: from his native place and family, his vocation as a mechanic in Saigon and France, his alleged role in the Black Sea mutiny (symbolized by a painting of a warship with a hoisted red flag), his early revolutionary activities back in Vietnam leading to his arrest, trial, and imprisonment on Con Dao, to his rise to prominence at the side of Ho Chi Minh in the newly independent state, and finally
Overall, the commemorative area in My Hoa Hung serves as a destination point for secular pilgrimages. Since 1988, schools and factories have frequently organized tours to My Hoa Hung, and in the short time span until the Eastern European revolutions of 1989, delegations of “fraternal” East bloc countries paid their respects. Photos of these organized visits are displayed in the museum, and a visitors'album further attests to this function of the site. According to museum personnel, especially around nationally symbolic dates—Ho Chi Minh's and Ton Duc Thang's birthdays, Independence Day—the commemorative area hosts youth camps. During my sojourn in My Hoa Hung, however, the education cadre accompanying me from Hanoi and I remained the only visitors, and my companion's worshiping with incense in front of Ton Duc Thang's altar was the only ritual act I witnessed. None of the local people, in particular, came to the compound. Several staff members were at hand, but they seemed to have few duties. I strongly suspect, though cannot prove, that after a flurry of visits and ceremonies during the initial years, in the 1990s the site has become permanently underutilized and, for considerable stretches of time, practically deserted.
Nevertheless, more so than any other memorial place for Ton Duc Thang, including the Ton Duc Thang Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, My Hoa Hung was conceived to provide the official commemoration of the revolutionary with an immediate spatial quality. Ton Duc Thang's childhood home becomes part of several imaginary maps: reaching back in time, it links up with other popular heroic figures of Vietnamese history, one after the other resisting outside aggression. Reaching out into simultaneous time, it becomes one of the places of origin of the modern Vietnamese revolution where revolutionaries all march in unison. Finally, it becomes part of a global map of revolutionary internationalism and humanism to enhance the national prestige of Vietnam.
As noted earlier, the commemorative area is filled with contrasting images and messages, of which I will mention only a few. For example, Ton Duc Thang's veneration results in the partial superseding of the standard biographical script. In his native place, the official claim that he came from a family of poor peasants is rejected, and no attempt is made to hide that the family was, in the words of Ton Duc Thang's nephew, “rather rich” (and could, after all, afford a private education for the firstborn son). Further, Ton Duc Thang's childhood home, nicely decorated and built mainly of wood in the traditional style of a peasant
What, then, can one make of the commemorative area that is apparently so filled with contrasts and contradictions and that in its quasireligious worship of a Communist leader creates tensions with the state's strictly secular orientation? Is it possible to distill from the commemorative place a unified theme, with a form and contents that fit?
As a first step—one that aims to identify a mold or form for the site— I propose that it is not only ancestral worship rituals with which Ton Duc Thang is venerated. Rather, his childhood home resonates even more with the Vietnamese traditional religious belief in the spiritual properties of the country's landscape and history. Although the building is always referred to only as “President Ton Duc Thang's childhood home,” it in fact is meant to be a shrine or temple (den) for Ton Duc Thang's hero spirit—a tutelary deity for the locale as well as a figure of national stature that has entered the pantheon of Vietnamese heroic guardian spirits.
By this I do not mean that Ton Duc Thang was made the village patron spirit (thanh hoang) of My Hoa Hung. In prerevolutionary Vietnam, the cult of a village patron spirit was always performed in the village's communal hall (dinh) and was based on the community's own choice of its guardian deity, which clearly is not the case here. As I will describelater, the local population, which traditionally would enjoy the benevolentacts of its patron spirit, is not really meant to be the recipient of the kind deeds by Ton Duc Thang's spirit; it is thus not the primary audience for the shrine's message. And since veneration takes place at Ton Duc Thang's birthplace—and not at the local communal hall— “origins” of some sort appear as a primary concern to the commemorative project.
I argue, however, that Ton Duc Thang's temple consciously models itself on the religious belief (or state ideology, as Stephen O'Harrow calls
Vietnamese hero spirit tales form a genre with a set of conventional features from which, I will argue, Ton Duc Thang's shrine liberally quotes. To describe their generic makeup, I will briefly turn here to the most prominent collection of such stories of tutelary deities, Ly Te Xuyen's fourteenth-century compilation Spiritual Powers of the Viet Realm (Viet dien u linh tap). Keith Taylor and Oliver Wolters have written detailed studies on the Spiritual Powers of the Viet Realm, which, while differing in their approaches and arguments, complement rather than contradict one another. Both Taylor and Wolters argue that the compilation of heroic spirit tales was used for the interests of the court elites. They differ, however, in their interpretations of the spirits'utility to these elites. Taylor traces the tales back to two main concerns: first, to what he terms “Ly dynasty religion,” in which royal authority is sanctioned by spiritual powers. Second, at the time of compilation, when dynastic succession was contested and irregular, these spirits functioned as examples of loyalty to rulers. But also highlighting the psychological comfort that the belief in protective deities continued to give later ruling classes in dangerous times, he concludes that the spirit world was a “protective screen” that “was seen by the Vietnamese as a shelter from alien threats and domestic disorder.” Further, “by ritually acknowledging these spiritual powers, Vietnamese kings opened legitimizing space for their claims upon the obedience of the people.”
Wolters, who mainly works with later versions of the Spiritual Powers of the Viet Realm, places his emphasis differently: in the spirit tales he
Wolters has characterized the tales'often uniform plots in two ways. First, in instances of outward threats, there is
the invariably successful relationship between Vietnamese rulers … and the local spirits but only if the ruler alertly apprehends a spirit's presence, if necessary testing it, appoints it to a post of military responsibility, and rewards it for its contribution to victory. The spirit, who always salutes the ruler, now joins the entourage. When this procedure is followed, victory is “certain.”
Second, concerning domestic order, the genre would present
a spirit's marvelous “manifestations” of spiritual power, its dramatic disclosure to a ruler …, theruler's wonder and grateful provision of a “shrine,” the villagers’ “incessant” worship at the shrine, the spirit's “response” to the villagers'needs, and the “favours” enjoyed by rulers and villagers alike.
To sum up what is important for my purposes here, guardian spirits protect the country from external threats and the ruler against internal, village-level challenges. Their role often is to facilitate a harmonious relationship between elite and village (sub) cultures, or between rulers and the people. Although both sides benefit from the tutelary services of the deity, the spirit's mediation is not one of equidistance, but one ultimately done in the ruler's interest. Spirit tales and local temples both are didactic tools, then, to focus popular allegiance toward the ruler. Finally, spirits and rulers can come together either through the ruler's proper apprehension and recognition, or goi hon, the “calling up,” of a worthy spirit, or by way of the spirit announcing (disclosing) itself to a worthy ruler.
If Ton Duc Thang's childhood home is indeed a guardian spirit shrine— creating, so to speak, the site's form or mold—and if it were to establish
Again, the works of Oliver Wolters and Keith Taylor are of relevance here. Wolters and Taylor have both undertaken structuralist readings of Vietnamese annals and discerned dominant themes—or what they call “sentences” or “statements”—to shed new light on the histories the annals are concerned with, as well as on their authors and their intentions. Wolters in particular sees such a “sentence” as a signifying system representing the totality of “recurrent ‘units,’” that is, words that are syntactically related but do not necessarily always appear with one another; for those portions of the Complete Historical Records of Dai Viet (Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu), annals that were compiled in the mid–fifteenth century, he identifies one such “sentence” as signifying “good government.”
Coming back to the exhibit on Ton Duc Thang's life, we will disengage ourselves from a primary concern with the ideological (and museological) master script that makes the commemorative site appear such a paradox. Rather, we will take such an idiom less seriously and see it perhaps only as a required stylistic convention in contemporary Vietnam, where one has to draw from the reservoir of Communist Party–sanctioned politicalideological terminology. Once we focus instead on other “recurrent units,” or recurrent expressions, the exhibit can reveal a dominant theme that actually makes sense in conjunction with Ton Duc Thang's hero spirit shrine. I refer here to the museum's repeated and quite prominent emphasis on “simplicity,” “sacrifice,” “selflessness,” “loyalty,” and “service” —all, of course, exemplified by and combined
As in the Ton Duc Thang Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, the exhibits on Ton Duc Thang's life in Long Xuyen and My Hoa Hung indeed pay particular attention to the characteristic frugality, devotion, and unpretentiousness of this revolutionary and national leader. Ho Chi Minh's words of praise of Ton Duc Thang to that effect are prominently displayed right in the entrances to both exhibits. And we are reminded of the concern Ton Duc Thang showed for others throughout his life: for example, for his own family members, whom he supplied in his youth with selfmade sandals (which are shown in the exhibits), or for his Vietnamese coworkers, one of them gravely sick, at the Toulon arsenal. We also meet him loyally caring for his fellow prisoners, even for those who initially tried to harm him, during the hellish years on Con Dao. We see him caring for the nation as a whole when, in 1945, he visits his mother, whom he had not seen since 1929, for only one night because of “urgent business” awaiting him in the capital. At My Hoa Hung, a painting of this last scene and a related quote ascribed to Ton Duc Thang underscore the importance placed on his unselfishness.
The theme of simplicity and selflessness is successfully reproduced beyond the exhibits. Two examples can illustrate this. First, in 1988, a symposium on Ton Duc Thang was held in Long Xuyen. The publication in 1989 of the symposium's proceedings then significantly carried the programmatic title “A Great Ordinary Person” —a phrase coined by Tran Bach Dang, the former Saigon party chief during the American War. And second, Dang Kim Quy reports that visitors to the commemorative area are often moved to tears while considering Ton Duc Thang's “life full of hardship and bitterness, yet pure, loyal, kindhearted and simple.”
The parts of the exhibits dealing with Ton Duc Thang's life after he became an accomplished national leader focus even more on his thriftiness, self-reliance, commonality with the people, and modesty. Among the material artifacts presented are his simple presidential clothes and worn shoes, his bicycle, alarm clock (a gift in 1957 from Vietnamese embassy personnel in Moscow), table fan, and photo camera—all of
Large black and white photos depict Ton Duc Thang's plain attire and rustic furniture in the presidential residence, or his bicycle repair tools, which he is said to have used until old age. The two explanations given are that Ton Duc Thang, even as president, at heart remained a mechanic who loved to tinker, and that he did not want to impose upon his presidential guard to fix his bicycle. Other pictures show him in-volved in practical, down-to-earth, handson, even mundane to trivial activities, like chatting with factory workers, reading to children, and tending his garden plants. Again, it is here that the core of the exhibits'didacticism is to be found. What becomes privileged is clearly not his revolutionary struggles, successes, and fame (a focus that is more pronounced in official biographical treatments emanating from the center of Communist Party power) but the fact that power, once achieved, was for Ton Duc Thang not an end in itself but the means to best serve the people—in other words, that power left him humble, committed, and uncorrupted. One plausible reading of the exhibits'statement would thus be about the correct demeanor of those who govern in the name of the Revolution.
How could this kind of ideal revolutionary leadership, of which Ton Duc Thang is portrayed to possess all the essential characteristics, and of which the Communist Party is the legitimate agent, be conceptualized? I have already identified central attributes such as “simplicity,” “sacrifice,” “selflessness,” “loyalty,” and “service.” They point to an activist government of officials operating under a set of ethics that take as their reference the common good. Its sense of self would be one of idealistic (and at the same time paternalistic) confidence in the right-eousness of its initiatives, its unfailing knowledge of “what is best” for the people, and its predictable success. Its continued power and authority would remain an unchallenged given so long as it remained tightly connected to the people, their experiences and circumstances, and in
Such a concept of proper rule extolled in the exhibits'statement is certainly not without historical precedent. Thus, my contention that Ton Duc Thang's museum-shrine produces both in form (hero spirit temple)and in contents (exhibits) a consistent statement must lead us at this point on an argumentative detour into premodern Vietnamese intellectual life. For quite a similar notion of proper rule was once articulated by the great scholar-official Nguyen Trai (1380–1442), and we need to examine his thought here in some detail.
Nguyen Trai lived through the tumultuous decades leading to the fall of the Tran dynasty in 1400, the brief reign of Ho Quy Ly (1400–1407), the harsh occupation of the country by an army of China's Ming dynasty (1407–27), and the subsequent restoration of independence under a new dynasty, the Le. Nguyen Trai himself played an important part in the defeat of the Ming; he joined Le Loi in organizing an anti-Ming resistance—the Lam Son uprising, begun in 1418—and the two men became the movement's key exponents. As emperor (1428–33), Le Loi would retain Nguyen Trai as his chief official; thereafter, their relationship was made a Vietnamese archetype of the fortunate link between a powerful ruler and his able and loyal minister.
Much has been written on Nguyen Trai in scholarly works. Without doubt, the ascent of Confucian axioms for the first time to a commanding position within Vietnamese elite culture is intimately connected to Nguyen Trai and the early Le dynasty. Tran Quoc Vuong actually called it an “irony of history” that the “Confucian bureaucratic-monarchic regime …, an exogenous element originating from North China …, received a particular boost from the time Dai Viet shook off the Ming yoke.” Nevertheless, Nguyen Trai “took … seriously the Confucian dictum of serving the state,” as John Whitmore has observed, and “strongly believed in an active role” [for scholar-officials]; in his work “service was his dominant theme.” Oliver Wolters, for his part, accentuates Nguyen Trai's major contributions differently; according to him, it was from
the selfless way peasants rallied against the Ming invaders [that Nguyen Trai]witnessed the people's response when a heroic style of leadership revived.[Therefore, his writings] stressed the ruler's responsibility to the people. … The people's wellbeing now became the test of good government, and the ruler's obligation to use educated officials is confidently formulated.
Finally, Esta Ungar writes that Nguyen Trai's thought
expressed an attachment to traditional Vietnamese values of the ruler as the heroic protector of the people, … [onto which] he grafted newer political constructs that … enlarged … the scope of activity of previous dynastic governments. … Inhissystem the people's welfare was the basic concern of the state.
Far from following the inward-looking neo-Confucian interpretation of such central concepts as “humaneness and justice” (ren yi, Vietn. nhan nghia), Nguyen Trai instead believed that nhan nghia obliged a ruler to “calm the people” (an min, Vietn. an dan), in the meaning of “securing the livelihood of the people” —an outwardly looking, activist stance informed by an “ethic of public service.”
Significantly, Ungar maintains that Nguyen Trai adapted in such notions the idealistic postulates of the eleventh-century socalled government school of Confucianism, an activist reform movement with strong roots in Mencian thought during the times of China's Northern Song dynasty. She sees a particular affinity to the work of Fan Zhongyan (989–1052),  who spearheaded the shortlived early Song reforms. Fan Zhongyan's famous precept that officials should “be the first to become concerned with the world's troubles and the last to rejoice in its happiness” became, in Ungar's words, “an article of faith among fifteenth-century Vietnamese public servants and scholars and was greatly encouraged by Nguyen Trai in his writings and his example.” James Liu conceptualized the ultimate vision of officialdom in the policies of Fan Zhongyan and his reform movement as an “ethocracy” based on moral principles and a strict sense of responsibility toward the people. This Confucian idealism with its “practical utilitarian spirit and … active political interest,” nicely complemented the emphases on practicality and dynamic leadership in Vietnamese political thought. However, we should keep the important fact in mind that Nguyen Trai adapted, but did not wholly adopt, the positions of early Song reformist Confucianism. Rather, as Ungar argues, he “merged” them with “the traditional Vietnamese leadership ethic,” which envisioned a heroic and just ruler in tune with, and aided by, the spiritual powers of the country.
Nguyen Trai fascinated DRV intellectuals already during the earlier years of the regime's consolidation and resumption of armed struggle. Tran Huy Lieu (1901–69), perhaps the most prominent and influential historian in those days, wrote regularly on Nguyen Trai,  and Nguyen Trai's collected works were published in Hanoi in 1969. Two reasons, one external and one internal, may best account for Nguyen Trai's appeal to the DRV. First, he, too, had put his service to the task of expelling foreign occupants (and had ultimately triumphed!). Second, by championing a Vietnamese version of Fan Zhongyan's “government school” of Confucianism (which predated neo-Confucianism), with its model of an “ethocracy,” Nguyen Trai spoke directly to the revolutionaries'concern, now that they were in power, about building up an efficient bu-reaucracy with cadres who nevertheless would avoid the corrupting internal dynamics of government and stay selfless and “close to the people.”
It is noteworthy that Tran Huy Lieu's revised and final treatment of Nguyen Trai, in 1966, contained an added chapter where Tran Huy Lieu employed “Nguyen Trai in our present endeavor to defeat America and save the country.” Patricia Pelley has argued that a strong anxiety among DRV historians about the persistent collaboration with U.S. overlords in the South made Nguyen Trai an even more compelling example, since he, unlike many of his contemporaries, was said to have resisted working with the occupying Ming. While this point is in itself quite convincing—although North-South collaboration patterns were exactly the reverse in the fifteenth century—Pelley's emphasis of Nguyen Trai as a counterhero, who is set in contrast to the negative types of foreign occupants and their local collaborators, overlooks Nguyen Trai's reaffirming role for the revolution's positive selfimage. It is the latter aspect, that is, the revolution's conscious utilization of Northern Song and early Le thought on good government, that I find even more intriguing. Tran Huy Lieu writes that Ho Chi Minh
often used Pham Trong Yem's [i.e., Fan Zhongyan's] precept to educate the cadres. Communists fight for the happiness of humanity and therefore must “be the first to become concerned with the world's troubles and the last to rejoice in its happiness,” and only the communists’ “being the first to become concerned with the world's troubles and the last to rejoice in its happiness” is really consequential and complete.
If I were to argue for an affinity between Confucianism and Vietnamese Communism, I would have no better argumentative grounds than those provided by the intellectual links from Fan Zhongyan via Nguyen Trai
Thus, much more needs to be done to understand the connections between Confucian idealism/humanism and Vietnamese Communism. For the latter, I suggest that it would be helpful to distinguish between the party in struggle and mobilization and the party in leadership and power, as these fundamentally different positions conditioned the revolution's varying judgments of Confucianism either as obstacle and opponent or as (partial) paragon and precursor. Alexander Woodside has hinted at this split perception with regard to the “mandarin” revolutionaries'concern over how to bridge the divide between their elite social backgrounds and the “masses” they were supposed to lead:
In East Asia, the Confucian gentleman was the universalist concerned with other people's troubles and with the troubles of the universe, the free spirit least bound by the particular concerns of the “petty man.” If memories of
I might add that, to the party in struggle, “self-serving ‘feudal'bureaucrats” not only figured in its memory but were, as “Confucian” bureaucrats serving the French or Emperor Bao Dai, real-life adversaries. The influence of specific, to varying degrees “Confucian,” thinkers like Fan Zhongyan or Nguyen Trai on the twentieth-century revolutionary leadership needs to be studied much more thoroughly. When Ho Chi Minh freely inserted Fan Zhongyan's famous eleventh-century dictum into a “rectification” speech in April 1961, he was not just using “old symbols … creatively” and in a calculated and conscious way, as Marr suggests; instead, he revealed a mind-set very much familiar with, and receptive to, Confucian humanism (and not just “less repelled” by it, as Woodside would have it), perhaps similar to how Bible-quoting Western politicians reflect a cultural environment suffused with certain strands of Christianity.
Finally, I should note in conclusion of my brief discussion of Nguyen Trai that his retreat on Con Son mountain in Hai Hung Province was turned into a national hero shrine,  and that Nguyen Trai became canonized, and continues to be venerated as, among the most important guardian spirits of the Vietnamese realm.
We can now end our detour through Vietnam's intellectual past and return to present-day My Hoa Hung by observing that Nguyen Trai's thought and his precedent as enshrined hero spirit of a national pantheon resonate clearly in the presentation of Ton Duc Thang's own museum-shrine. Although no specific mention is made of Nguyen Trai at the commemorative area for Ton Duc Thang, the exhibits'statement about the proper ways of a revolutionary government bears such resem-blance to the particular activist-idealist strand of Confucian ethics espoused by Nguyen Trai (and, as we have just seen, consciously utilized as a guideline for DRV cadres) that it is safe to presume a powerful allusion by the former to the latter.
Ton Duc Thang's commemorators hardly implied the correlation with Nguyen Trai's thought and hero spirit status in an arbitrary or random manner. Rather, the timing of important events likely suggested
I have offered ways of reading Ton Duc Thang's museum-shrine against a background of historical allusions and a multitude of cultural quotations and memories. On the one hand, his birthplace shrine establishes Ton Duc Thang as a guardian spirit who has joined the Vietnamese pantheon of historical hero deities. On the other hand, the museum exhibit propagates an ethos of the simple and selflessly devoted cadre, which similarly reaches back in time and connects with certain Confucian concepts espoused by a famous Vietnamese scholar-official.
But are we not dealing here with two quite different and incompatible cultural statements—the markedly non and pre-Confucian tutelary spirits of the Spiritual Powers of the Viet Realm, and Nguyen Trai and his version of Confucian idealist humanism? I would not agree. Esta Ungar has shown how, in Nguyen Trai's thought, Song reformist Confucianism was “merged with,” or “grafted onto,” established Vietnamese concepts of heroic leadership and the interplay between worldly and spiritual powers. And dynamic relations, not incompatibility, are described by Alexander Woodside when he writes of Vietnamese intellectuals:
[Their] inclination to [study popular traditions] accompanied the Confucianization of Vietnamese intellectual life, was provoked by it, and sometimes collided with its this-worldly sensibilities. … The mixture of acceptance and rejections varied with each thinker. … But it was the interplay between Confucian moral theories and the great ancient reservoir of Vietnamese religious and mythical formulations which most decisively shaped Vietnamese views of change before 1860.
I suggest that there is actually a distinct area of commonality in the two concepts. Nguyen Trai was concerned with an “ethocracy” of officials
It is in this fundamental concern that Ton Duc Thang's spirit temple and museum exhibit finally coalesce in a meaningful way. In its person-ification by Ton Duc Thang, the statement about an idealistic, selfless, and uncorrupted governing officialdom—an ethos of revolutionary cadres—itself is the enshrined spirit of My Hoa Hung. Simple and selfless Communist cadres are the agents (i.e., officials) of an abstract ruler, the Vietnamese Revolution, understood here not simply as the events of August 1945 but as an institutionalized cause or enterprise. Properly called upon and utilized, these officials ensure the ruler's success against outward threats and domestic disorder. Their primary concern with the people's livelihood constitutes the protection that the people expect from the ruler, in exchange for which they recognize the ruler's legitimacy and are loyal.
Instead of tensions, paradox, and subversion, this is, I suggest, the unifying theme that can make sense of the commemorative area. At Ton Duc Thang's birthplace, the uncorrupted cadre, who tirelessly and self-lessly works for the benefit of both the Revolution and the people, is venerated as a guardian spirit of the Revolution, and the museum functions as a modern temple inscription announcing the spirit's merit, achievements, and outstanding character.
I have tried here to find an interpretation that would make sense of what appeared to be a highly contradictory commemoration of a Communist leader at his birthplace. Whereas this search has taken me all the way back to the eleventh century, the site's contemporary context, the late 1980s, requires some attention as well. The waning of the Cold War and the decline and ultimate demise of the socialist camp in the 1980s increasingly weakened the external moral authority and political legitimacy that Marxism-Leninism had long afforded the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party. This process opened up space for a popular reembracing of the “traditional” at the same time that the Revolution itself
While the potentials for posthumous commemoration of Ho Chi Minh and Ton Duc Thang are necessarily greatly different for quite obvious reasons, it is nevertheless interesting that the mid-1970s saw the erection of a monumental mausoleum to Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, with a structure and a culticritual form outside Vietnamese practices, while spirit shrines-museums resonating with traditional political-cultural concepts appeared in the late 1980s in the countryside.
Commemorative confidence is one aspect that needs to be considered in this context. The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is one such expression of confidence by the Vietnamese Revolution. It was certainly Vietnamese, but it belonged—on equal terms, as symbolized by the chosen architectural-ritual form—to the larger moral order and authoritative structure of the socialist camp. In the “triumphalist spirit” of the mid-1970s, it felt firmly embedded in a grander historical design, the validity of which had just been proven by the revolution's singular feat of successfully achieving, against great odds, its outward goals of uniting the country and ending foreign domination.
In contrast, at the core of the commemorative effort in My Hoa Hung lies a deep crisis of confidence. Gone were the days of triumphalism and the shelter of a greater outside moral authority that would have provided a familiar choice of commemorative form. The Revolution had lost its sense of purpose, and the split between the trajectory it had prescribed for the country and the material-cultural tendencies of the people widened more and more. Amid the dramatic economic downturn of the mid1980s, rising social ills, widespread popular dissatisfaction with, or— worse yet—uninterest in, the revolutionary government, rampant corruption and loss of morale among its cadres, and the ominous decline of the global socialist camp, the organizers of Ton Duc Thang's museum-shrine “turned nativist” and (re)discovered in the traditional a new/old source of legitimacy and guidance. In exchange for one historical model of predictability, the now discredited Marxism-Leninism, they tapped into a model within the Vietnamese cultural repertoire that promised an equally predictable course of events, the invincible alliance between Vietnamese
But this should not be confused with a change of allegiance, or a turning away from the revolution. Despite the confidence crisis, Ton Duc Thang's commemorators remained committed and fiercely loyal to the Revolution. True to the obligations that their role as cadres entailed, their fundamental concern lay with its survival, and they were anxious to improve the quality of the revolutionary ranks. And so, triggered by the disconcerting changes in the fortunes of the socialist camp, yet another imagined ancestry of Vietnamese Communism was established through Ton Duc Thang. This ancestry was to be found in traditional concepts of authority and order of the country's spiritual and this-worldly realms and in the unbroken sequence of national heroes, who, with the aid of the spirit world to which they themselves would belong after death, had risen to defend the country and reaffirm these concepts. Placing the Communist revolution and Ton Duc Thang (and, of course, Ho Chi Minh) within this continuum reasserted a sense of pride in times of bedeviling self-doubts. But the veneration of guardian spirits also afforded Ton Duc Thang's commemorators with the “safe” and prudent form, and Confucian idealism with a consistent language, to express their warnings about revolutionary decline in the present. In that sense, the site entails more of an act of “talking back” at the state than of lecturing down to the people. Through Ton Duc Thang's museum-shrine, the selfless, activist, and uncorrupted cadre who would ensure harmony between the Revolution and the people was idealized. The nostalgia and criticism in this message only become explicit because of the statement's incompatibility with present times—times that to the commemorators likely appeared “out of joint.”
Amid the loud signals of distress is a faint message of hope. To explain this, I should take a brief look at Ton Duc Thang's commemorators. At the same time, the aspect of regionalism will—once again—have to be considered. The museum-shrine in My Hoa Hung and the symposium on Ton Duc Thang's life that coincided with the site's inauguration in 1988 were organized jointly by provincial cadres in Long Xuyen and former Saigon/southern party leaders, who were equally instrumental in establishing the Ton Duc Thang Museum in Ho Chi Minh City: Tran Van Giau, Tran Van Tra, Tran Bach Dang, Luu Phuong Thanh, and others. All of them were critical of the present and tried to foreground the South's contributions to the successes of the Vietnamese Revolution
And thus, in the end, the enshrined revolutionary ethos of loyal service at My Hoa Hung can be seen as the commemorators'self-image, and they themselves, along with Ton Duc Thang, come to embody the Revolution's guardian spirits. Just like the tutelary deities, they “announce” their willingness to serve the ruler. Once again, I turn to Oliver Wolters, who has described the attraction between ruler and guardian spirit as “the automatic response of local tutelary spirits to a ruler's presence, provided that the ruler had already shown signs of achievement and leadership,” but has also emphasized that spirits can admonish a ruler to “seek and follow virtus” (duc). Both dynamics, that is, response and admonition, are at work here and undertaken by people who are, on the one hand, loyal to the Revolution and, on the other hand— spurred by their memories of past glories—pained by its present state.
Their hopeful message is that the Revolution can be saved if it is able to refocus on its fundamental purpose, go back to its origins (symbolized by the temple at a prominent revolutionary's birthplace), “clean up its act,” and rediscover, accept, and use all the talents available—including those in the South. In a remarkable parallelism to traditional notions of authority and legitimacy, this message further implies that the people, when recognizing such a rejuvenated and reinvigorated rule, would certainly abandon their errant ways and once again follow the revolution. The ease with which this nativist reorientation is undertaken can be explained by the congruence of the two models that provide a sense of historical certainty: success will surely belong to the heroic leadership, aided by ethical and unselfish officials, when it is properly aligned with either the inherent spiritual powers of its domain or the correct forces in the dialectical materialism of the historical process.
In their idealization of the earlier days of the Communist Party–led society, when, supposedly, a revolutionary ethos of service guided the officialdom, and the people and their leaders were in harmony, Ton Duc Thang's commemorators reveal their distress over, and protectiveness of, the Revolution in its present endangered state. Idealization and protectiveness are thus both at work in this act of “calling the spirits” (goi hon): enshrined and recalled in the little village of My Hoa Hung are,
My discussions with Peter Zinoman and his “Declassifying Nguyen Huy Thiep,” positions 2, no. 2 (fall 1994): 294–317, have helped me to more clearly formulate the concerns expressed in this chapter. In its early phase, this study also profited in many ways from my interactions with Stephen O'Harrow, Keith W. Taylor, and Oliver W. Wolters. The final version owes much to the helpful criticism of Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Keith W. Taylor, Tamara J. Wang, Oliver W. Wolters, and Marilyn B. Young.
1. For a comprehensive treatment of the post-Tiananmen “craze” of Mao Zedong, see Geremie R. Barme´, Shades of Mao: The Posthumous Cult of the Great Leader (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1996). See also the very brief but promising treatment of a Mao Zedong temple in Gushui, Shaanxi, by Begonia Lee, “Houses of the Holy,” Far Eastern Economic Review, June 6, 1996, 52. Shrines to Ho Chi Minh are mentioned briefly by Hue-Tam Ho Tai, “Monumental Ambiguity: The State Commemoration of Ho Chi Minh,” in Essays into Vietnamese Pasts, ed. K. W. Taylor and John K. Whitmore, (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1995), 273, 278. For Indonesia and its commemoration of pahlawan, see Klaus H. Schreiner, Politischer Heldenkult in Indonesien: Tradition und Moderne Praxis [Political Hero Cult in Indonesia: Tradition and Modern Practice] (Berlin: Reimer, 1995). [BACK]
2. See, e.g., Jo Blatti, ed., Past Meets Present: Essays about Historic Interpretation and Public Audiences (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, Institution Press, 1987); Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1992); Ivan Karp, Christine Mullen Kreamer, and Steven D. Lavine, eds., Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992); Robert Lumley, ed., The Museum Time-Machine: Putting Cultures on Display (London: Routledge, 1988); Susan Pearce, ed., Objects of Knowledge (London: Athlone, 1990); Kevin Walsh, The Representation of the Past: Museums and Heritage in the Postmodern World (London: Routledge, 1992). [BACK]
3. I am, of course, not uninvolved in these matters. See my “Telling Life: An Approach to the Official Biography of Ton Duc Thang,” in Essays into Vietnamese Pasts, 246–71. [BACK]
4. Information provided by Bui Cong Duc and Ngo Quang Lang, cadres of the An Giang Province Culture and Information Department and the provincial VCP Propaganda Board, Long Xuyen, May 4, 1992. [BACK]
5. Museum of the Revolution, Ho Chi Minh City: “Ecole des me´caniciens, Registre matricule, commence´le ier De´cembre 1907, termine´ le … 1918, Thang Ton duc.” The matriculation register was given to the museum in 1980. [BACK]
6. This point is argued in detail in chapters 1–3 of my dissertation “Ton Duc Thang and the Imagined Ancestries of Vietnamese Communism” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1996). [BACK]
7. See ibid., chap. 5, and my forthcoming Striking Images: Ba Son 1925— A Case Study of the History and Historiography of Vietnamese Labor (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program). [BACK]
8. The French crackdown was triggered by a botched inner–Thanh Nien political murder in Saigon's Rue Barbier that exposed much of the clandestine organization to the French. Not surprisingly, the Rue Barbier case and Ton Duc Thang's significant role in it, remains a taboo subject in Vietnam. Since it is omitted from the commemoration of Ton Duc Thang, it will not concern me here. For details on the case, see my “Telling Life.” [BACK]
9. Huynh Kim Khanh, Vietnamese Communism, 1925–1945 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982), 254f. n. 49, discusses the length of incarceration as a “qualification for advancement.” [BACK]
10. An Giang provincial branch of VCP, circular no. 06/TT-TU, Long Xuyen, March 13, 1987 (document no. 39, Ton Duc Thang Museum, Ho Chi Minh City). [BACK]
11. See Lam Binh Tuong, “Trung Tu Di Tich voi Viec Phuc Hoi Noi That Ngoi Nha cua Chu tich Ton Duc Thang o My Hoa Hung (An Giang)” [“Re-constructing Historic Sites with Interior Renovations of President Ton Duc Thang's house in MHH (An Giang)”], and “Bao Ve Ngoi Nha Luu Niem Chu tich Ton Duc Thang o My Hoa Hung, Tinh Chat Phong Canh va Canh Quan” [“Protecting President Ton Duc Thang's home in My Hoa Hung, the Landscape Character and Beauty”], in Ban tuyen giao Tinh uy An Giang [An Giang Provincial Propaganda Commission], To Thanh Tam, ed., Mot con Nguoi Binh Thuong—Vi Dai. Ky Yeu Hoi Thao Khoa Hoc ve Chu Tich Ton Duc Thang Nhan Dip Ky Niem 100 Nam Ngay Sinh 20–8–1888–20–8–1988 [A Great Ordinary Person: Proceedings of the Symposium on President Ton Duc Thang Commemorating the Centennial of His Birth] (An Giang: Provincial Propaganda Commission, 1989), 59–64. Articles on the constructions in An Giang (July 27, August 5, 12, 1988) (document no. 149, Ton Duc Thang Museum, Ho Chi Minh City). Pamphlet of An Giang Culture/Information Department about the commemoration site, 1988 (document no. 84, Ton Duc Thang Museum, Ho Chi Minh City). Dang Kim Quy, “Ngoi Nha Luu Niem Thoi Nien Thieu Chu tich Ton Duc Thang” [“President TDT's Childhood Home”], Tap Chi Lich Su Dang [Journal of Party History], no. 5 (1991): 36.
Interview with Ton Duc Thang's nephew Ton Duc Hung, My Hoa Hung, May 4, 1992. [BACK]
12. President Ton Duc Thang himself is buried at Mai Dich state cemetery outside Hanoi, where, in the absence of Ho Chi Minh's remains, his grave occupies the “No. 1” position in the hierarchical layout of the cemetery. His grave's appearance is standardized with those of other state and party leaders; since it is thus obviously not meant as a focal point for rituals, it will not concern me in this discussion. [BACK]
13. Dang Kim Quy, “Ngoi Nha,” 36. I am grateful to Hue-Tam Ho Tai for suggesting to me the former symbolism. Cf. Danny J. Whitfield, Historical and Cultural Dictionary of Vietnam (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1976), 255. [BACK]
14. Whitfield, Historical and Cultural Dictionary, 275f. See also the helpful, if awkwardly presented, materials in Nguyen Tien Huu, Do¨rfliche Kulte im
15. Stephen O'Harrow, “Men of Hu, Men of Han, Men of the Hundred Man: The Biography of Si Nhiep and the Conceptualization of Early Vietnamese Society,” Bulletin de l'Ecole Franc¸aise d'Extreˆme-Orient 75 (1986): 251. [BACK]
16. See, with such an emphasis, Yamamoto Tatsuro, “Myths Explaining the Vicissitudes of Political Power in Ancient Vietnam,” Acta Asiatica: Bulletin of the Institute of Eastern Culture 18 (1970): 70–94. [BACK]
17. Keith W. Taylor, “Notes on the Viet Dien U Linh Tap,” Vietnam Forum, no. 8 (1986): 26–59. See also an earlier brief discussion in his The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983), 352ff. Oliver W. Wolters, “Preface,” in his Two Essays On Dai-Viet in the Fourteenth Century (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Southeast Asia Studies, 1988), vii–xi. [BACK]
18. Taylor, “Notes on the Viet Dien U Linh Tap,” 45. [BACK]
19. Wolters, “Preface,” xix, xxviii, xxxv. [BACK]
20. First quotation: O. W. Wolters, “On Telling a Story of Vietnam in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 26(March 1995): 67. Second quotation: Wolters, “Preface,” xvi. The differences in perspective of Wolters's two generic sketches are, however, addressed in neither publication. [BACK]
21. See David G. Marr, Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, 1920–1945 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981), 263. [BACK]
22. Oliver W. Wolters, “Possibilities for a Reading of the 1293–1357 Period in the Vietnamese Annals,” Vietnam Forum, no. 11 (1988): 97. [BACK]
23. Keith W. Taylor, “Looking Behind the Vietnamese Annals: Ly Phat Ma (1028–54) and Ly Nhat Ton (1054–72) in the Viet Su Luoc and the Toan Thu,” Vietnam Forum, no. 7 (1986): 51. [BACK]
24. Wolters, “Possibilities,” 116f. [BACK]
25. To Thanh Tam, Mot con Nguoi Binh Thuong—Vi Dai. [BACK]
26. Dang Kim Quy, “Ngoi Nha,” 36. [BACK]
27. This happened in 1954, after Stalin's death, but before Khrushchev's denunciation of the Stalin personality cult. [BACK]
28. See my “Telling Life.” [BACK]
29. The archetypal image persisted despite the fact that, several years after Le Loi's death, Nguyen Trai and almost all his family met with a violent end in a court intrigue. [BACK]
30. Tran Quoc Vuong, “Traditions, Acculturation, Renovation: The Evolutional Pattern of Vietnamese Culture,” in Southeast Asia in the 9th to 14th Centuries, ed. David G. Marr and A. C. Milner (Singapore: Institute of South-east Asian Studies, 1986), 271. [BACK]
31. John K. Whitmore, “From Classical Scholarship to Confucian Belief in Vietnam,” Vietnam Forum, no. 9 (1987): 58. [BACK]
32. Oliver W. Wolters, “Assertions of Cultural Well-Being in Fourteenth-Century Vietnam,” in his Two Essays, 42. [BACK]
33. Esta S. Ungar, “Vietnamese Leadership and Order: Dai Viet under the Le Dynasty (1428–1459)” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1983), 19, 20. The following exposition is based on subsequent passages of the first chapter. [BACK]
34. Fan Zhongyan; also transcribed Fan Chungyen in the Wade-Giles system or, in Sino-Vietnamese transcription, Pham Trong Yem. [BACK]
35. James T. C. Liu, “An Early Sung Reformer: Fan Chung-Yen,” in Chinese Thought and Institutions, ed. John K. Fairbank, 3d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 111. [BACK]
36. Ungar, “Vietnamese Leadership and Order,” 41. [BACK]
37. Liu, “An Early Sung Reformer,” 108, 131. [BACK]
38. Ungar, “Vietnamese Leadership and Order,” 10. [BACK]
39. E.g., Nguyen Trai, 2d ed. (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1969). For a very detailed list of Tran Huy Lieu's writings on Nyugen Trai, see Vien Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi Viet Nam, Vien Su Hoc [History Institute of the Social Science Institute of Vietnam], Hoi ky Tran Huy Lieu [Memoirs of Tran Huy Lieu], ed. Pham Nhu Thom (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1991), 495–97. For a more general bibliography of DRV writings on Nguyen Trai between 1956 and 1968, see Patricia Pelley, “Writing Revolution: The New History in Post-colonial Vietnam” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1993), 207–12, especially notes 65, 75, 77, and 78; and Ungar, “Vietnamese Leadership and Order,” 268 nn. 4 and 5. [BACK]
40. Chapter 11, “Nguyen Trai voi Viec Danh My Cuu Nuoc cua Chung Ta Hien Nay.” [BACK]
41. Pelley, “Writing Revolution,” 211f. [BACK]
42. Tran Huy Lieu, Nguyen Trai, 56. [BACK]
43. Ungar, “Vietnamese Leadership and Order,” 34. [BACK]
44. Marr, Vietnamese Tradition, 127–35. [BACK]
45. Nguyen Khac Vien, Tradition and Revolution in Vietnam, ed. David Marr and Jayne Werner (Berkeley, Wash.: Indochina Resource Center, n.d.[1974?]). Here especially his essay “Confucianism and Marxism in Vietnam,” 15–52. [BACK]
46. Nguyen Khac Vien, Tradition, 46–51; the quotation is from 48. Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 217. See also Marr, Vietnamese Tradition, 135. [BACK]
47. Alexander B. Woodside, Community and Revolution in Modern Vietnam (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976), 237. Note the echo from Fan Zhongyan in the first sentence. [BACK]
48. Marr, Vietnamese Tradition, 134; Ho Chi Minh is quoted by Nguyen Khac Vien, Tradition, 49f. [BACK]
49. Whitfield, Historical and Cultural Dictionary, 48. [BACK]
50. I am grateful to Hue-Tam Ho Tai for suggesting this aspect of timing to me. [BACK]
51. Alexander B. Woodside, “Conceptions of Change and of Human Responsibility for Change in Late Traditional Vietnam,” Vietnam Forum, no. 6(1985): 108, emphasis added. [BACK]
52. See, among others who have observed that phenomenon, Hy Van Luong, “Economic Reform and the Intensification of Rituals in Two Northern Vietnamese Villages, 1980–1990,” in The Challenge of Reform in Indo-China, ed. Borje Ljunggren and Peter Timmer (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 259–91. In this essay, however, I am less concerned with the effects of
53. Hue-Tam Ho Tai, “Monumental Ambiguity,” in Essays into Vietnamese Pasts, 280. [BACK]
54. To draw a parallel to premodern times, equal confidence exudes from the Vietnamese tales of heroic guardian spirits and the underlying concept of the spiritual properties of the land, as Oliver Wolters has pointed out with reference to the Spiritual Powers of the Viet Realm (Wolters, “On Telling a Story,” 67). Challenges to the ruling powers and threats to the country's security— recurrent themes in the Vietnamese experience—had been warded off, as one could very well see in retrospect, whenever ruler and tutelary deity had established a “winning” rapport in the proper manner described by the tales. [BACK]
55. Wolters, “Possibilities,” 129. [BACK]
56. Oliver W. Wolters, History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1982), 102, emphasis added; and Wolters, “Preface,” xix. [BACK]