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A few facts on ‘Tiếng chuông Trấn Võ, canh gà Thọ Xương”

A recent controversy on the poem by Dương Khuê that caused the resignation of a teacher due to her “wrong” interpretation of this poem. Her interpretation upsets the parents of some of her students. The episode reminds me of an exchange that I had long time ago in 1996 in VNforum (the first mailing list forum on Vietnamese issues on the Internet after soc.culture.viet on USENET) with a member of VNForum..

Here is my old exchange with a forum member of VNForum in 1 November 1996

VNForum@Saigon.COM – Mesg from huỵduong@ctsụox.ac.uk
> Anyway, in a recent book about Duong Khue (Tam Trang DK & DL, Van Hoc, 1995),
> Duong Thieu Tong, a Doctor of Education, gave the following commentary on the
> famous poem Hà Nội Tức Cảnh:
>     Phất phơ ngọn trúc tra<ng tà,
> Tiếng chuông Trấn Võ, canh gà Thọ Xương.
>     Mịt mù khói toả ngàn sương,
> Nhịp chày An Thái, ma<.t gương Tây Ho^`.
> Tran Vo: according to Linh Nam Chich Quai, Lac Long Quan killed a
> nine-tailed monster and built a shrine called Thien Nien Quan to
> subdue its spirit. In the Ly dynasty, a temple was built on this site
> and called Tran Vo with the purpose of subduing an invading monster
> called Cuu Vi Tinh. The bell of Tran Vo is, through the mythology
> of subduing the monster, associated with a call to the defence of the countrỵ
> Canh ga Tho Xuong: canh ga is…you got it…the beginning of the daỵ
> Tho is long lasting, enduring. Xuong is prosperitỵ So canh ga Tho xuong
> can mean the beginning of an enduring prosperitỵ
> ..
         Tiếng chuông Trấn Võ, canh gà Thọ Xương.

Hi anh Huy and all,

Thanks for bringing this one up. Regarding Thọ Xương, i think it does not means long lasting prosperitỵ Thọ Xương is an ancient name of a region in Thang Long (Hanoi).

“In the early Le Dynasty (15th Century), Thang Long was called Đông Kinh, inside an administrative unit called Phủ Phụng Tiên consisting of two Huyện: Quang Đức and Vĩnh Xương. During Mạc Phúc Hải reign (1541-1546), Vĩnh Xương was changed to Thọ Xương. Thọ Xương covers the whole area of  Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hai Bà Trưng, and part of Đống Đa.

The Centre of Thọ Xương was not clear during the Le and later period. But, in the beginning of the Nguyen, it was in the Phố Hàng Bột. In the map of Hanoi 1831, that area was drawn and the location of Huyện sở Thọ Xương was clearly identified, the centre corresponding to the present house 107 Hang Bot..

(Extract from “Đướng Phố Hanoi – Lịch sử, Văn Vật- Thắng cảnh” , Nxb Hanoi, 1979)

At Trấn Võ, there is a famous ancient temple, as everyone knows.

So in the line “Tiếng chuông Trấn Võ, canh gà Thọ Xương” refers to two old known locations in Hanoị

> Tho Xuong is a real location. It’s between the present cathedral and
> a place called -Dồn Thuy?. I don’t know where -Dồn Thuỷ is, but
> if it used to be a naval post on the Hong then Tho Xuong would have covered
> at least a part of the present Hoan Kiem quarter. It is also true that the name
> of this real place means enduring prosperitỵ BTW, vinh xuong means everlasting
> prosperitỵ
> An Thai, aka Yen Thai, is also a real location, between Hàng Mành and
> Hàng Bông, used to be where the public grain stores are, and used to
> produce rice milling equipment. It is also true that the name means
> traquilitỵ

Hi anh Huy and all,

Đồn Thuỷ was used as a naval base before the French camẹ It was located from the present History Museum (Viện Bảo tàng lịch sử) to the beginning of Tran Hung  Đạo street. It was also called Tay Long Quay (Bến Tay Long).

It was from this site that Tay Son naval ships came to Thang Long (Hanoi) in 1786 and confronted the Trinh Lord troops deployed in nearby Ngu Long (at the present main Post Office). A few year later, from this site, on the fifth of the Tet Ky Dau, 30-1-1789, the Manchou general Ton Si Nghi left in haste when his army was defeated and Nguyen Hue was coming. He left Tay Long (Dồn Thuỷ) across the Red river on the pontoon bridge leaving behind his imperial credential (ấn tín) and unsadled horse. This site was conceded to the French after the Peace treaty 1874 with the Nguyen king. They built the first Consulate, office houses, hospital and later the Museum of the French School of Far East.

– Yen Thai, a region encompassing Hang Bong, Yen Thai street, part of  Thuy Khue street. This region was known for making good papers, garments and has many historical sites, such as Đông Cô temple built from the Ly Thai Tong timẹ In Thuy Khue, there was a buđhist temple called Châu Lâm (now moved to the nearby Phuc Chau temple). This temple was associated with Viện Châu Lâm built by Le Thanh Tong for the Cham prisoners of war for them to have a place of worship and activities. The Chau Lam temple was also called Chùa Bà Đanh by local people. Gradually the Viện Châu Lâm was abolished and the temple was less frequented. That is why the saying
      ” Vắng như chùa bà Đanh”
     ( As empty as Ba Danh temple)
was originated from.

References :
   (1) Trần Quốc Vượng – Hà Văn Tấn : Hà Nội nghìn xưa
   (2) Nguyễn Vĩnh Phúc – Trần Huy Hà : Đường Phố Hà Nội


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One thought on “A few facts on ‘Tiếng chuông Trấn Võ, canh gà Thọ Xương”

  1. Canh gà Thọ Xương, một dịch giả dịch là “Thọ Xương chicken soup”.
    Người Huihui Uyghur/Chim Ưng, Tòan Thư cho là Hồi Kê, đời sau diễn dịch thêm lần nữa là… “Con Gà Trở Về” (!!??)

    Posted by princess | Tháng Mười 21, 2012, 4:26 sáng

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