New book on traditional customs launched

January 10, 2018 | 09:17 am GMT+7

Culture researcher Phan Cẩm Thượng has just launched the second book in his four-volume series on Vietnamese civilisation.




Spiritual life: Cover of the newly launched book by Phan Cẩm Thượng.

The 600-page book, titled Tập Tục Đời Người – Văn Hóa Tập Tục của Người Nông Dân Việt Nam Thế Kỷ 19-20 (Life’s Customs – Cultural Customs of Vietnamese Peassants in 19-20th Century), published by the Writers Publishing House and the Nhã Nam Culture and Communications Company, features the results of Thượng’s 20-year-research.
It follows the first book in the series, titled Văn Minh Vật Chất Của Người Việt (Vietnamese People’s Material Civilisation), published in 2011, which features vehicles and objects that Vietnamese people created and used.
The new book offers different views on the spiritual life of Vietnamese farmers and the ways they interact in rural and urban environments. The book does not list all the customs in Việt Nam but highlights the most basic ones, which involve the development of people’s culture and the change they cannot resist.
The next two books, titled Mày Là Kẻ Nào? (Where Are You From?) on Việt Nam’s regions and Thế Kỷ 19 Việt Nam (Việt Nam in 19th Century), featuring the country in the 19th century, will be published in the next few years.
Thượng said many other researchers such as Phan Kế Bính, Toan Ánh, Nhất Thanh and Nguyễn Văn Huyên have written about traditional customs.
“They did the same things like listing all the customs. In my book, I have mentioned the origin of the customs. For example, what kinds of customs people living in the villages and cities followed,” he said.
He also traced how the customs changed, how they disappeared, and how the new customs replaced the old ones.
For instance, Thượng describes a house on stilts of Mường and Thái ethnic groups. The way they divide the space in their house is similar to that of the Kinh majority group.
The women of Mường and Thái groups did not need to change their clothes in a separate room instead they used a robe stretching from the breast to the calf.
Thượng explained the reason why farmers had breakfast very early. In summer, they worked very early in the fields so that at 10am, when the sun shines brightly, they could return home to avoid the heat.
In his book, besides some illustrations taken from the book, titled Kỹ Thuật Của Người An Nam (Vietnamese People’s Techniques) by Henri Oger, and photos from various sources, Thượng used his own drawings to help readers understand more.
Writing at the precede, culture researcher Nguyên Ngọc compared the book series as a collection of Vietnamese history.
“However, I need to clarify that the series contains the history of Việt Nam not as a country, but the history of Vietnamese people in their daily lives. Here we encounter different, smaller, more direct and closer (But strange enough, lesser known) people. Vietnamese people,” Ngọc wrote.
The book is available at bookstores throughout the country for VNĐ189,000 (US$8.3).
A show introducing the book will be organised on Sunday on Book Street Nguyễn Văn Bình, District 1, HCM City.