03/27/2010

Legend of the Heavenly King of Phù Đổng (Phù Đổng Thiên Vương)

An invasion by a strong army from the north has ravaged the country during the reign of King Hung the Sixth. The Ân army have taken over Van Lang, setting houses on fire, and invading village after village. As cries of the women, children and all innocent victims filled the air, mixing with the sound of war drums as they roll, the king sent messengers to every corner of Vietnam to find someone who could save the kingdom.

In the village of Phù Đổng , there lived a couple who had long been married but were never blessed with a child. One afternoon, coming home from the fields, the wife noticed an unusually large footprint in the soil. Amazed by its size, she placed her foot on top of it and experienced a strange wind blowing against her skin. The wife went home and had forgotten about the incident, until weeks had passed when she realized that she was pregnant. The couple was delighted by such news and happily looked forward until the baby was born. Soon she gave birth to a boy, whom they named Gióng. Three years had passed; however, the little boy never stood up nor has uttered a single word.

One day, the king’s messengers reached the village of Phù Đổng . Upon hearing the envoys, the couple were surprised to see Gióng suddenly rising to his feet and spoke to his parents, asking them to invite the king’s men inside their home. Once inside, Gióng asked the messenger to return to the capital and tell the king that he needed an iron horse, an armour and an iron rod to fight the Ân invaders. Hearing what had taken place in the small village and amazed by the story about the little boy, the king ordered his kingdom’s finest blacksmiths to work day and night to fulfil what the little boy had required.

While the blacksmiths were busy working, Gióng, back in his village, had been eating more and more and everyone noticed how quickly he grew. By the time the messengers came back to Phù Đổng , bringing the little boy’s requests with them, Gióng stood up, put on the armor, seized the rod and quickly mounted the horse. But amazingly, he, along with his horse and weapons, started to grow bigger and bigger until he transformed into a mighty giant. His horse roared as loud as the thunders and started breathing flames from its nostrils.

Riding swiftly his horse, Gióng came after the Ân army, striking his iron rod to everyone within his reach while his horse breathed fire to the enemies and burned them down. When his weapon broke, Gióng showed his courage and never stopped fighting for the kingdom. He tore bunches of bamboo along his path and used them to strike blows to the now frightened Ân army until everyone of them was defeated.

Delighted by such sight, the villagers rejoiced and called out Gióng’s name as he made his way to the Soc Son Mountains. The villagers watched as Gióng removed his armour and disappeared into the skies along with is horse. In honour of his courage and for saving the kingdom, the king ordered for a temple to be erected not far from the place where he ascended. Since then people call him Heavenly King of Phù Đổng (Phù Đổng Thiên Vương) and a festival is held every year in memory of the brave hero.