Book on customs of Vietnamese peasants published

(VOVWORLD) - Culture researcher Phan Cam Thuong has just published the second book in his four-volume series on Vietnamese civilization. Titled “Life’s Customs – Cultural Customs of Vietnamese Peasants in 19th - 20th Century”, Thuong’s new book gives readers a vivid picture of rural life in Vietnam during that period.

The new book features the results of Phan Cam Thuong’s research over many years. It comprises 6 chapters: Vietnamese peasants and their four pleasures, Survival spaces, Four seasons and festivals, Religions and Systems of worship, Culinary and Dressing traditions, Old time and Present life. It offers different views on the spiritual life of Vietnamese farmers and the ways they interact in rural and urban environments. Author Phan Cam Thuong told VOV: "This book follows the first book in the series, titled Vietnamese People’s Material Civilization, published in 2011, which features vehicles and objects that Vietnamese people created and used, including their ploughs, hoes, and many other farming tools. In this new book, I described the origins of the customs they followed, such as wedding and funeral ceremonies, and religious practices. These customs were not regulations set at the national or village level. They were the villagers’ daily habits turned into customs. I also trace how the customs changed, how they disappeared, and how the new customs replaced the old ones."

Book on customs of Vietnamese peasants published - ảnh 1Researcher Phan Cam Thuong and his new book (Photo: Nguyen Dinh Toan/ 

The 600-page book, which contains anecdotes and discussion, gives readers an insight into the lives of Vietnamese farmers in the past.

"In this book, I selected the two most typical customs: wedding and funeral ceremonies and analyzed their important role in people’s daily life, and how they changed over time. This book explores how people develop through their customs and how these customs affect their future development.", said Thuong. 

Author Thuong applied anthropological methods in his research for this new book. He said: "Vietnam has 53 other ethnic groups in addition to the major Kinh group. I conducted research on several unique customs of some other ethnic groups and then made comparisons with customs of Kinh people. For example, I describe the wedding and funeral traditions of Muong, Black Thai, and Tay ethnic people in my book. Such comparisons give us ideas on different points of views and different religious beliefs and practices."

This is a book about Vietnamese history, but the author does not mention the vicissitudes of dynasties, nor the cruel wars, nor the sweeping political changes. It’s vivid evidence that peasants are strong preservers of traditional customs who can prevent foreign cultural elements from penetrating, changing, and replacing their own customs, said critic Mai Anh Tuan. Culture researcher Nguyen Ngoc says the series contains, not the history of Vietnam as a country, but the history of the Vietnamese people in their daily lives.