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The Vietnamese Origin Story of Monsoons



Many countries have great tales around natural phenomena and Vietnam is no different. This story is about the origin of monsoons, how they started and why they continue up and till today. This is a tale about two men named, Sơn Tinh and Thủy Tinh and their fight for Mỵ Nương, daughter of Hùng Vương.


The story

Once there lived a great king, king Hùng Vương, who had an incredibly beautiful daughter. When his daughter came of age the king started the search for an eligible prince. He sent out proclaimers all across the land, telling all princes to present themselves in front of the king and his court. They would tell epic tales of the beauty of the princes and the heroism of the king.

Princes arrive from far and wide, one richer than the other. Some traveled for weeks, just to present themselves in front of the king and gain the hand of the princess in marriage. None, however, made it past the kings’ judgment and all seemed lost.

Then, one day, two young men showed up at the Kings’ court. Both had remarkable wealth, were incredibly gifted and were the most powerful men in their own rights. These two men were Sơn Tinh, Lord of the Mountain, and Thủy Tinh, Lord of the Sea.

This left the king with a difficult situation. After all, he had no way of determining who of these two men should marry his daughter. The king consulted his court and they advised him to send both men on a quest, to find the most suitable wedding gift. The one that would complete his quest first and arrive at the court victorious would gain the hand of the princes.

Though the competition was close, Sơn Tinh was the first to arrive back at the kings’ court and was therefore given the permission to marry the princes. This, however, did not get over well with Thủy Tinh, who had fallen madly in love with the princes. He swore on the wedding day to destroy Sơn Tinh and gain the princess for himself.

Thủy Tinh convinced that he was stronger than Sơn Tinh, challenged his bitter rival to dual. The winner would get the princess. Sơn Tinh, however, completely ignored the challenge. To him there was no need, he was stronger after all and the king had already granted the princess’s hand to him.

This made Thủy Tinh even more furious and he called upon the sea to rise, the rivers to flood their banks and surrounding land and the clouds to rain constantly. This caused epic storms and sea surges, which ruined all the land and the crop that was grown upon it.

Sơn Tinh witnessed all the destruction from this palace in the mountains and saw the misery that Thủy Tinh caused. He decided to raise the land and mountains every time they were about to get flooded. He tried to save as many life and livestock as possible.

After a few weeks, Thủy Tinh had to accept defeat, there was no way he could overpower Sơn Tinh.


Meaning

The epic battle between Sơn Tinh and Thủy Tinh is seen as the cause of monsoon season. It’s said that Thủy Tinh is still fighting for his princess every year.

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