LAN BACH LE THAI 1
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« Here I am, my Lord », she said in a soft and musical voice. « You have waited long enough for me. »
« Who are you, honoured lady ? » asked TU-UYEN.
« My humble name is GIANG-KIEU and I am a fairy. You might perhaps remember that we have met under the blossoming peach-tree in the Spring Festival. Your love for, and your faith in me have moved the Fairy-Queen who deigned to send me down here to be your wife ».
Now the young scholar’s dream was fulfilled and he was transported into a new world of happiness and unknown delight. His house was now transformed into heaven by her sweet, lovely presence, and by the magic of her love.
He loved her dearly and kept on following her everywhere, forgetting his books and neglecting his studies. When GIANG-KIEU reproached him for this, he looked deep into her eyes and said: « My beloved one, I was once sad and lonely. You have come and changed my life. You look more charming to me everyday, and it is only natural that I crave to be near you. I cannot help it. »
« You must listen to me if you want to be a success ». said the fairy. « Do not stay idle any ‘more and start studying again or I shall leave you. »
He obeyed her reluctantly but his mind was distracted and finally he took to wine. One day, when he was drunk the fairy was gone. He was very sorry for it, and prayed to her to come back again, but there was no sign of her.
Then, he remembered that she had come out of the picture on the wall, and he went to it to beg her to come out again, but she did not move.
« Beautiful GIANG-KIEU » he implored her, « this one is your slave and begs for forgiveness. What shall this one do, without your beloved presence and your sweet love ? »
The lady did not stir but TU-UYEN did not give up. Day after day, he waited for her to come back, clinging desperately to his hopes. He burned incense, prayed to her again and again, and composed a long poem, recording his wonderful meeting with the fairy and expressing the depth of his love, and the extent of his sadness: « The skies were lofty, and the seas were wide, and my fairy, my beloved, why do you hide ?… etc. »
Again and again he talked to the lady in the picture, promised to obey her, and even talked of committing suicide.
At last, GIANG-KIEU stepped out again from the picture, still with angry looks : « My Lord, if you do not listen to me this time », she said, «I shall be forced to leave you for ever. I shall. »
TU-UYEN gave her his solemn promise and vowed he would never disobey her again. Afraid of losing her, he began studying hard and passed his examinations brilliantly, qualifying as a mandarin.
Soon a son was bom to them, and a nurse was hired to take care of it.
One day, when the boy was over a year old, the air suddenly grew balmy, the sun shone more brightly than ever, and some heavenly music was heard from afar. GIANG-KIEU became serious and said to her husband : « My Lord, I have lived with you for more than two years. My time on earth is up and it pleases the Fairy-Queen to call me back to Heaven now. Please, don’t look depressed and alarmed. Your name is also on the list of the Immortal Ones. So, let us go to Heaven together. »
She then turned to the nurse and said: « Our earthly riches are yours now. Please bring up our son, and when he passes all his examinations, we will come back to take him to Heaven with us.»
And she burned some incense, murmured prayers, and at once, two miraculous swans, with golden wreaths round their necks and twinkling stars on their heads, appeared in front of them.
They climbed on the birds and flew into the warm blue sky. Sweet and celestial music filled the air as though the gods rejoiced to receive them in Heaven. The villagers, seeing this, built a monument to worship Tu-Uyen at the very place of his house.
And nowadays, the Tu-Uyen temple is still there, at the same place, in Hanoi, although the Eastern Bridge and the To-Lich river have disappeared with time.
1 : R.W. PARKES’ Foreword introduces LE THAI BACH LAN and her short-stories books: “Mrs. Bach Lan has assembled an interesting selection of Vietnamese legends for which I am glad to write a brief foreword. These tales, well and simply translated by the author, have considerable charm, derived in no small part from the sense they convey of familiar human situations clothed in exotic dress. Here, in tropical settings, we have faithful lovers, jealous wives, unkind stepmothers, the stuff of which so many Western folk stories are made. One story indeed is Cinderella over again. I trust that this little book will find many readers and stimulate friendly interest in a country whose present-day problems are regrettably better known than her past culture. Saigon, 26th February 1958.”
3 : Tien Tich Pagoda (110 Le Duan street, Cua Nam Ward, Hoan Kiem District) has been build at the beginning of King Le Canh Hung‘s reign (1740-1786). The temple is located in the Cua Nam area, one of the four gates of the old Thang Long citadel.
Legend has it that during the Ly dynasty, there was a lost prince who was taken back by the fairies, so the King built this temple to thank the fairies. Another legend recounts that, when the King went to Kim Au lake, he saw a vestige of Tien descended on the earth near the lake and built a temple named Tien Tich (the trace of Tien).
The pagoda was built in the shape of Dinh including Tien Duong, Thien Huong and Thuong Dien. The structure here is mainly brick, tile and wood. In the temple, the system of 5 Buddhist altars is placed higher in the upper palace, on which decorated the statues of Buddhism. Most of these statues were made under the Nguyen dynasty, nineteenth century.
Tien Tich pagoda was expanded by Lord Trinh at the beginning of King Le Canh Hung (1740) and was a victory in the area. The pagoda was restored in the 14th Minh Mang reign (1835) and is continuously repaired and perfected.
According to the old history books, Tien Tich pagoda was very large in the past, the stone pavement was charming, the scenery was beautiful, the lake was cool, and the fragrance of lotus was fragrant.
Tien Tich Pagoda has experienced many ups and downs of history, with many events of time, although it has changed a lot in appearance, but so far, it still bears strong historical, scientific and art.
The presence of relics to this day and relics such as bronze bells and steles are valuable sources reflecting the indispensable existence of Buddhism in the daily life of the people. This is also a valuable resource for researchers to learn about Vietnamese Buddhism, about Thang Long–Hanoi history. It helps us to visualize the landscape of the land of the economy, to understand a part more about the royal life, the ancient king.
So far, in terms of architecture, art, Tien Tich pagoda has been preserved quite intact in terms of form, structure, religious architecture under the Nguyen Dynasty. The system of round statues has high aesthetic value, the statues of the pagoda are meticulously processed, elaborate and creative. These artifacts in addition to artistic value are also a valuable heritage block of the national cultural heritage treasure. (Source: Hanoi Moi – hanoimoi.com.vn – Translation: VersiGoo)
◊ Contents and images – Source: Vietnamese Legends – Mrs. LT. BACH LAN. Kim Lai An Quan Publishers, Saigon 1958.
◊ Featured sepiaized images has been set by Ban Tu Thu – thanhdiavietnamhoc.com.
BAN TU THU