Thành hoàng

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"Thành hoàng" (城隍) means a deity that is enshrined in each village's communal house in Vietnam. The deity is believed to guard the village against disasters and bring it fortune.

Contents

Etymology

Thành hoàng is a Sino-Vietnamese word, literally means the city wall and the moat that surrounds it.

Origin

No later than Đinh dynasty, each locality started to worship the mountain and river gods that ruled over a domain which encompassed their village. Later on, the government decreed the deification of late national heroes, righteous officials and loyal subjects, and specific localities were chosen to exalt these gods. Gradually other common folks took up the practice and worshipped their own gods to be blessed with protection and fortune. [1]

Đinh dynasty dynasty

The Đinh dynasty was the imperial dynasty of Vietnam starting in 968 when Đinh Tiên Hoàng vanquished the upheavals of Twelve warlords and ended as the son of Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Đinh Phế Đế, ceded the throne to Lê Hoàn in 980.

Ranking

Generally each village worships only one Thành Hoàng, however it is not rare to see two or more gods enshrined simultaneously at a village. They are known collectively as Gods of Fortune (Phúc Thần). [2]

Even these Gods were divided in three ranks

Thánh Gióng

Thánh Gióng, also known as Phù Đổng Thiên Vương, Ông Gióng and Xung Thiên Thần Vương is a mythical folk hero of Vietnam's history and one of The Four Immortals. According to the legend, Gióng was a boy who magically grew in size to be a giant hero and rode on an iron horse leading the Văn Lang kingdom to victory against northern invaders. Thus, he is considered the first anti-invasion hero of the Vietnamese.

Chử Đồng Tử is the name of a famous Vietnamese divine being, one of "The Four Immortals" "Tứ bất tử" in traditional Vietnamese mythology. In legend Chử Đông Tử appeared on a yellow or golden dragon to Triệu Quang Phục the sixth century resistance leader.

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Apart from the ranked gods which acknowledged by the government, there were villages that worshiped "demons" and "tainted gods" such as Beggar God, Serpent God, God of Lecherousness...

Notes

  1. Phan Kế Bính, Vietnamese Customs, Ho Chi Minh City Publishing house, 1990 edition, p.78-79.
  2. Phan Kế Bính, Vietnamese Customs, Ho Chi Minh City Publishing house, 1990 edition, p.78-79.

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