(Cinet)- To understand the soul of traditional Vietnam, you must go to the countryside. There lies the village, the social cell and the administrative, economic and spiritual unit, that is the depository of its oldest cultural values .
The soul of traditional village
Each village has a communal house dedicated to its tutelary god, temples for the worship of spirits or saints, one or two pagodas to worship Buddha, sometimes a temple or a mound-alter for the worship of Confucius.
In spite of a very strong religious syncretism, one can more or less classify these buildings in two groups according to the endogenous or exogenous origin of the divinities they worship.
The first group concerns the temples ( đền, miếu, phủ) worshipping spirits of autochthonous origin, the veritable Vietnamese religion.
The second group of religious buildings comprises those devoted to religions imported from China and India. Confucianism and Buddhism came and were grafted on the autochthonous stock, which had been firmly rooted and remain alive today.
In a strongly hierarchic and patriarchal society, each person must accept his lot and accomplish his duty, from kings, mandarins, scholars, peasants, artisans and workers, to men and women, husband and wife, parents and children.
At the village level and on the cultural plane, how does Confucianism mangiest itself? The cult of the Confucian worship ( văn từ, văn chỉ) is there to recall the pre-eminence of the Master and his scholars.
The “dinh”, which serves as office for the temple, mayoralty and local tribunal, represents the rational Confucian order in all its strictness: ritual ceremonies to the tutelary god accredited by royal decrees; meeting with a very strict order of precedence; distribution of land taxes and labour duties; and the enforcement of customary laws sometimes very severe.
In the village, Buddhism brings solace of the heart and feelings to the rigours of the rational Confucian norm. The pagoda is a haven of peace, which calms suffering and brings comfort to many of the individual sorrows and social injustices.
Buddhism and Confucianism-the heart and head- have influenced for millennia the Vietnamese psyche, contributing to bringing it a necessary equilibrium.
Structure of traditional Viet village
A traditional Viet village is surrounded by bamboo shrubs, which provides shade and protects villagers from invaders. The village gate is important to the real and spiritual life of the countryside. Each gate has its own structure, which harmonizes with the rural space. The curved arch reflects villagers’ aspirations.
The village well serves as a venue for communal activities. The well is built in the front or middle part of the village. According to ancient thought, the well is the village’s eye, reflecting the tranquil rural life.
The village’s main road leads from the gate to the communal house, a sacred place, which is built on a propitious position determined by geomancy. The temple honors the village’s founders. The communal house is where major village events take place.
Communal house is the expression of Vietnamese’s activities, where the principles of life are balanced, the talents of the people are discovered, the place to worship the Founder of the village, the people that have merit to people, to country.
The structure of a traditional Viet village is well integrated. Behind a bamboo bush, an alley paved with bricks leads to hamlets and houses. There are many small inter-connected alleys. This structure creates a peaceful ambience, which reminds those who are far from the homeland of their origin and tradition.
Viet village is known as a cultural heritage, which has remained some cultural values for a long time. Viet village is inspired in Vietnamese people by some similar characters including a bamboo hedge, a well, a communal house, a market, ... All things create a beautiful picture of Vietnamese land and people. Original people and Vietnamese ones in overseas have enjoyed and been proud of some similar landscapes in their minds and hearts. All things they want to keep one unique village and one unique Vietnam.