Unearthing the Legendary Hung Dynasty

Posted On: 10/04/2024

Delving into the past of Vietnamese history, the legend of the Hung Dynasty emerges as a cornerstone of the nation's identity, weaving a tapestry of myth and sovereignty that has endured through millennia. Embarks on a journey back in time to uncover the mystique of the Hung Kings, revered as the progenitors of Vietnam and the architects of its first civilization, Van Lang.

The historical narrative of the Hung Kings era stands out as a foundational and illustrious chapter in the establishment of Vietnam's independence. This epoch, under the governance of 18 Hung Kings, was instrumental in shaping Vietnam into a sovereign entity, promoting essential societal virtues such as a sense of community, mutual respect, love of country, and defiance against subjugation. The narrative stretches from the mythical realm of Van Lang, home to legendary figures like Au Co, through the evolution of societies along the Red River, to the prosperous eras preceding the Dong Son culture.

Regarded as the progenitors of the nation and epitomes of the nation-building ethos, the Hung Kings hold a venerable place in Vietnam's rich tapestry of cultural identity, cherished over millennia. In homage to these ancestral figures, the Vietnamese populace diligently observes the Hung Kings' Temple Festival, an expression of the nation's enduring reverence and "gratitude for the ancestors." This solemn festival, celebrated on the 10th day of the third lunar month each year, marks the anniversary of the ascension of the inaugural Hung King to the throne.

Hung Dynasty - A kingdom of legends

Hung Dynasty Lac Long Quan Au Co

The legend of the Hung Kings is a foundational myth of Vietnam, deeply ingrained in the national consciousness and symbolizing the birth of the country's civilization. According to Vietnamese mythology and history, the Hung Kings were the descendants of Lac Long Quan (Dragon Lord of Lac) and Au Co (a fairy), who are considered the ancestral parents of the Vietnamese people. The story goes that Lac Long Quan, the dragon lord of the sea, married Au Co, who was a mountain fairy. Au Co gave birth to a sac containing a hundred eggs, which hatched into a hundred children, believed to be the ancestors of the Vietnamese people.

Lac Long Quan and Au Co eventually decided to separate to ensure their children could populate and rule over both the highlands and the lowlands. Lac Long Quan took fifty sons to the sea, while Au Co took the other fifty to the mountains. The eldest son, who stayed in the Phong Chau area (now Phu Tho Province), became the first Hung King, founding the first Vietnamese state known as Van Lang. The Hung Kings are said to have ruled Van Lang for 18 generations, during which they established the country and its identity, fostering unity among the tribes and laying down the cultural and political foundations of the nation.

18 legendary rulers of Hung Dynasty

Hung Dynasty 18 Hung Kings

Hung King, also known as Hung Vuong (around 2879 BCE), refers to the titles of the supreme leaders of the Van Lang state of the Lac Viet people - dynasties believed to have been established more than 4,000 years ago. According to the Complete Annals of Dai Viet (Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu), the Hung dynasty lasted about 2,622 years, from the time of Kinh Dinh Vuong (2879 BCE) to the end of the Hung King period (258 BCE). The state of Van Lang existed until 258 BCE when it was conquered by Thuc Phan (also known as An Duong Vuong).

Some ancient texts describe the territory of Hung King as extending southward from Dong Dinh Lake to what is now Central Vietnam; others suggest that his sovereignty may have been concentrated around the present-day area of Hue. According to legends, Hung Vuong, meaning "Strong Leader" or "Great Elder", was the son of the famous dragon god Lac Long Quan. Hung King divided the country into administrative districts and assigned civil servants and military officers to govern them.

The historical story of Hung King is not found in official histories but lies within the folk legends of the Vietnamese people, passed down through generations. According to legend, there were 18 generations of Hung Kings, and the Hung Kings were all descendants of Lac Long Quan and Au Co. The first Hung King was born in the year 2879 BCE, and the eighteenth Hung King died in the year 258 BCE. The list of 18 Hung Kings includes:

  1. Kinh Duong Vuong: 2879 - 2794 BCE (the years of reign are estimated). 

  2. Hung Hien Vuong: 2793 - 2525 BCE.

  3. Hung Lan Vuong: 2524 - 2253 BCE.

  4. Hung Viep Vuong: 2252 - 1913 BCE.

  5. Hung Hy Vuong: 1912 - 1713 BCE.

  6. Hung Huy Vuong: 1712 - 1632 BCE.

  7. Hung Chieu Vuong: 1631 - 1432 BCE.

  8. Hung Vi Vuong: 1431 - 1332 BCE.

  9. Hung Dinh Vuong: 1331 - 1252 BCE.

  10. Hung Hi Vuong: 1251 - 1162 BCE.

  11. Hung Trinh Vuong: 1161 - 1055 BCE.

  12. Hung Vu Vuong: 1054 - 969 BCE.

  13. Hung Viet Vuong: 968 - 854 BCE.

  14. Hung Anh Vuong: 853 - 755 BCE.

  15. Hung Trieu Vuong: 754 - 661 BCE.

  16. Hung Tao Vuong: 660 - 569 BCE.

  17. Hung Nghi Vuong: 568 - 409 BCE.

  18. Hung Due Vuong: 408 - 258 BCE.

Unification of Bach Viet and the end of Hung Dynasty

Hung Dynasty Co Loa

At the end of the Hong Bang period, the Qin dynasty began to expand its territory southward, invading the Bach Viet tribes. The Van Lang nation of the Lac Viet tribe allied with the Au Viet tribe under Thuc Phan to jointly resist the Qin. The result was a victorious resistance against the Qin after 10 years. Following the victory, Hung Vuong abdicated, and Thuc Phan - who had the greatest merit in the war - succeeded to the throne, unifying the Lac Viet and Au Viet tribes into the nation of Au Lac, thus ended the Hung Dynasty.

A memorial to Hung Dynasty - Hung Kings' Festival

Hung Dynasty Hung King Festival

The Hung King Temple Festival, also recognized as the Death Anniversary of Hung Kings, stands as one of Vietnam's most important and solemn celebrations. This annual event takes place on the tenth day of the third lunar month, commemorating the legendary Hung Kings, revered as the venerable forebears and architects of the Vietnamese nation. The main ceremony is held at the Hung Temple, Phu Tho Province, approximately 85 kilometers northwest of Hanoi. This occasion carries deep spiritual meaning for the Vietnamese, serving as a tribute to the Hung Kings' pivotal roles and sacrifices in forging the nation's identity and cultural heritage.

The Hung Temple Festival is a rich cultural event that showcases a variety of traditions, with spiritual ceremonies being the cornerstone of the festivities. At the core of the celebration are the dignified and detailed rituals performed by Buddhist monks and officials, dedicated to honoring the esteemed Hung Kings and their pivotal role in the nation's past. These ceremonies embody the profound spiritual values and respect for forebears, promoting a collective sense of belonging and identity among participants.

Experience the myth and culture

Hung Dynasty Hung King Festival

The Hung Dynasty transcends mere legend to embody the very essence of Vietnamese identity, culture, and sovereignty. Esteemed as the progenitors of the nation, the Hung Kings are celebrated for founding the region's first independent state and safeguarding it against external aggressions. Their enduring legacy is enshrined in the collective memory of the Vietnamese people, who annually honor their contributions during the Hung King Festival.

For those intrigued by the rich tapestry of the Hung Dynasty, a plethora of avenues exist to delve deeper into its storied past, enigmatic allure, and enduring influence. A visit to the revered Hung Temple offers a unique opportunity to pay homage to these ancestral figures. Engaging in the traditional festivities, which include rituals, games, and performances, provides a living connection to their celebrated virtues and achievements. Furthermore, an abundance of resources such as books, documentaries, and online platforms are available for those seeking comprehensive insights into this pivotal chapter of Vietnamese history.

Even though the history of the Hung Dynasty is veiled in myth, its critical role in shaping Vietnam's national identity cannot be overstated. The dynasty symbolizes the pinnacle of national pride, unity, and spirit, acting as the cornerstone for Vietnam's rich and vibrant cultural heritage, deeply intertwined with legendary narratives. This heritage not only reflects the historical depth and complexity of Vietnam but also highlights the unique way in which myth and history are interwoven to define a nation's character and values.

We warmly invite you to delve into this enchanting aspect of Vietnamese culture, to discover for yourself the wonders of the Hung Dynasty. By exploring its significant influence and the enduring legacy it has left on Vietnam's ethos, you will gain a deeper appreciation for how this ancient dynasty continues to inspire and unify the Vietnamese people. This post into the past promises not only insights into the roots of Vietnamese identity but also a profound understanding of how a nation's history can shape its present and future aspirations.

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