Bui Viet Hoa
The project began in 2002. Scholar Bui Viet Hoa worked on the project full-time; for the most part she worked in Finland, but she also made journeys to Vietnam to collect traditional material. Dr. Vo Xuan Que served as the project expert on language and names. The epic was illustrated by artist Dang Thu Huong.
Markku Nieminen, Bui Viet Hoa, and Pekka Laaksonen study Sanskrit writings at the Cham people’s temple My Son.
The project was completed as a cooperative development project of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provided the bulk of the funding. Other expenses were covered by the Juminkeko Foundation. The project lasted from 2002 to the end of 2008, when the epic was released in Hanoi. One year of the seven-year project was funded solely by the Juminkeko Foundation. Partners in Vietnam were the Vietnamese Institute for Literature Studies and the Society of Kalevala Friends in Vietnam.
Dang Thu Huong, illustrator of the Vietnamese epic.
Bui Viet Hoa’s compilation, The Descendant of Mon Man, is based on smaller epics from the different peoples of Vietnam, on the living folk poetry, and on other traditional material. The short epics of Vietnam’s national minorities have been gathered continuously since the 1930s and translated into Vietnamese. About 100 epics have been published at this time. They have been important source material during the writing of The Descendant of Mon Man. Bui Viet Hoa and Vo Xuan Que made a research trip in 2004 that provided extremely valuable source material.
The epic includes a mythological part that tells about the origins of the world and of things important to Vietnam, such as rice and water buffalo. The second part is a heroic epic about the descendants of mythical ancestors and their adventures. It also follows how the heroes overthrow the enemy threatening their land and how they start a common nation.
The Vietnamese epic has been made in such a way that all the peoples of Vietnam may find something of their own in it. The desire has been to gather the oral traditions of Vietnamese peoples together, but at the same time to strengthen and raise the value and status of minorities in society. It is hoped that the epic will strengthen the common cultural identity of all the peoples. As a literary work it can be translated into other languages and in this way it can further other countries’ understanding of Vietnam. The epic creates a new perspective on and variation of epic studies in Vietnam.Audio samples of the singing of Vietnamese folk poetry:
|Hmong singer Song Y Co||The bard Ha Van Cong sings in the Thai language.||The bard Bui Van Lung, a representative of the Muong people, sings about the origin of human beings.|
The Descendant of Mon Man appeared as a joint publication of the Juminkeko Foundation and of the Literature Publishing House (Van Hoc) of Vietnam. The book is distributed by the Vietnamese company Alphabooks (http://www.alphabooks.vn).
The Juminkeko Foundation presented the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture with 700 copies of the epic to be distributed among all the country’s provincial and district libraries. The Vietnamese Ministry of Education received 300 copies to be given to school libraries.