Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros39ArticlesSpirits Offering Protection: The ...

Articles

Spirits Offering Protection: The Cult of General Đoàn Thượng in Vietnam in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Esprits protecteurs : le culte du général Đoàn Thượng au Vietnam dans le contexte de la pandémie de Covid-19
Elena Gordienko
p. 151-170

Résumés

Cet article traite des changements survenus dans les cérémonies du culte des esprits dans les communes rurales du Vietnam pendant la pandémie de Covid-19. Une étude de cas du culte du général Đoàn Thượng (1181-1228) est présentée. L’autrice propose une comparaison de plusieurs cérémonies, à savoir 1) une commémoration dans un temple qui a eu lieu le 1er mai 2018 relatée d’après ses matériaux de terrain, et 2) une cérémonie fermée, qui a eu lieu dans le même temple le 8 avril 2020 et le 27 avril 2021 et diffusées sur Facebook). D’une part, les mesures de quarantaine réduisent le degré d’intégration de la commune rurale et éliminent une pratique religieuse aussi importante que le pèlerinage. D’autre part, les mesures restrictives ont rapproché la cérémonie de son aspect traditionnel : les membres ordinaires de la commune et les touristes ont été exclus de la participation aux rituels, tandis que les membres du clan Đoàn ont rempli le rôle de représentants du clan en communiquant avec les esprits, ce qui est prescrit par la tradition.

Haut de page

Notes de l’auteur

This material was partially published in Russian, see Gordienko (2021).

Texte intégral

Introduction

1The Covid-19 pandemic and related quarantine measures have impacted the daily religious practices of people around the world.1 Vietnam is no exception. In the spring of 2020, with the closure of temples for ordinary visitors, many events were cancelled, and some ceremonies went online. These changes affected various denominations: the Catholics failed to visit their churches on Easter (12 April 2020), and the Buddhists forwent visiting their temples on Vesak (30 April 2020). In many temples, these services were held behind closed doors and broadcast online2 Celebrations in honour of guardian spirits in the villages, rural communes and urban areas of Vietnam were also cancelled and replaced with modest ceremonies, despite the small number of Covid-19 cases in Vietnam at that time.

2In this article, I will compare two case studies observed during my research on this topiс: an ordinary spirit worship in a rural area of northern Vietnam in 2018 (based on my fieldworks), and a ceremony held in the same place under quarantine conditions in 2020 and 2021 (according to posts in Facebook).

  • 3 I studied the personality and path of life of General Đoàn Thượng in the extant hagiographic texts (...)

3In 2017-2018, I carried out fieldworks in the Hải Dương province (60 km east of Hanoi). General Đoàn Thượng (段 尚, 1181-1228), who is a Việt (or Kinh) medieval historical character, is venerated in this area. In temples and hagiographical texts, his spirit is known as Đông Hải Đại Vương (東海 大王), or Lord of the Eastern Seas. According to the extant hagiographic texts, he defended the Lý Dynasty (1010-1225), dying shortly after the fall of the dynasty (he was killed in a conspiracy). Following his death, his residences and military fortifications were converted into temples and communal houses.3

  • 4 Location of the temple: xã Đoàn Thượng, huyện Gia Lộc, tỉnh Hải Dương.

4The main temple in honour of Đoàn Thượng (Đền thờ danh tướng Đoàn Thượng) is located in his native village—in the Đoàn Thượng commune (named after him), Hải Dương province.4 In May 2018, I attended a festival in this temple. It was a commemoration ceremony (lễ giỗ) in honour of Đoàn Thượng on the occasion of the 790th anniversary of his death. In April 2020 and April 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the public ceremony was cancelled, and an abbreviated ceremony was held. Comparing these two modes of the ceremony I will try to determine how deeply the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the structure and content of the cult. In my analysis, I will attempt to demonstrate, using the example of the transformations of a ceremony in one of the Vietnamese temples, how religious life is changing in the pandemic. It is also significant to suggest possible changes that can remain in the future in case of returning to ordinary or “normal” life or new restrictions caused by the pandemic. It is important to note that this is the first study of the Đoàn Thượng cult in its current state.

5Vietnam, which shares a border with China, was one of the first countries to record Covid-19 infections (on 23 January 2020). The Vietnamese government immediately restricted air traffic exchange with China, then with Europe, and somewhat later, with the whole world. All educational institutions were also closed starting the end of January. However, the temples remained open, and all religious ceremonies were fully held. It was only on 1st April by the Prime Minister’s Decree (Chỉ thị số 16/CT-TTg ngày 31/3/2020) that a lockdown was imposed in Vietnam. This led to the closure of temples and the cancellation of all the events. The lockdown was lifted on 25 April 2020.

6The festival in honour of Đoàn Thượng which is celebrated on the 16th day of the third lunar month fell on 8 April on the Gregorian calendar in 2020. Although the ceremony should have been cancelled at the midstream of the quarantine measures, it was still held by a limited number of participants.

Vietnamese Spirit Worship and the Temple in Honour of Đoàn Thượng

  • 5 According to the U.S. government report, approximately 13 million of Vietnamese are religious adher (...)

7Although many Vietnamese do not consider themselves adherents of any particular religion, most of them participate in rituals related to the worship of spirits, including ancestral spirits.5 The spirit cult remains a major religious practice and belief in Vietnam (tín ngưỡng dân gian Việt Nam). French missionary and explorer Léopold Cadière (1869-1955) noted this characteristic:

The true religion of the Annamites [i.e. the Vietnamese] is the spirit cult. This religion has no history; it has existed since the origins of the race. […] The religious life of the Annamites from all classes of society is based on a belief deeply rooted in the consciousness that spirits are everywhere. […] And these spirits, scattered all over nature, are not inactive. They interfere in the life of man and influence his destiny. (Cadière 1992: 6.)

  • 6 For information about rituals of the Vietnamese folk religion, see Malarney (2002); Taylor (2004, 2 (...)

8It is the feeling of the presence of spirits in everyday life that makes the Vietnamese perform rituals and make offerings on the altars of the spirit on the full moon and new moon, as well as on ceremonies and dates associated with the spirit’s deeds. The appeal to the spirits is performed in various forms: rituals at the home altar, ceremonies in temples, offerings to small altars at significant places on the street, and communication with spirits during spirit-medium sessions.6 It is important to emphasise that as mass gathering events, ceremonies in temples have suffered the most from the quarantine measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • 7 The First Indochina War (called the Indochina War in France and the French War in Vietnam) began af (...)
  • 8 It should be noted that repealing of anti-religious policy was conducted gradually and in several s (...)

9The main temple in honour of Đoàn Thượng was built on the site of a smaller and older temple that was gradually destroyed like many other temples of Northern Vietnam during the First and Second Indochina Wars (1946-1975)7 and the anti-religious policy of the Communist Party (1945-1986).8 The construction of the new temple began in 2002 and, according to the interviewees, continues up to the present time. The project is funded by the organisation in charge of the Vietnamese clan named “Đoàn” (Họ Đoàn Việt Nam) organisation, which unites the descendants of the clan throughout the country.

Fig. 1. Main temple in honour of Đoàn Thượng

Fig. 1. Main temple in honour of Đoàn Thượng

Photo: E. Gordienko, October 2017

10The architecture of the temple refers to traditional Vietnamese aesthetics: East Asian hip-and-gable roof curved upward decorated with sculptures of dragons, a series of sliding doors that are open only for festivals, in front of the temple there is an incense bowl, an offering table, lanterns, and sculptures of lions. The temple site is fenced, paved with tiles. In the middle of the courtyard is a hemispherical pond decorated with a small fountain and fenced with a stone enclosure. On both sides of the temple are small pavilions used for meetings and other non-worship purposes.

  • 9 Full names, titles and functions of these spirits should be specified in royal decrees (from the si (...)

11The temple interior is divided into two sections: the main hall with the altar, in front of which the ceremonies take place, and a sanctuary behind it—a small room that is opened only during the festivals. The main hall altar is solemnly decorated with a statue of Đoàn Thượng. The back altar of the sanctuary is decorated with a symbolic throne dedicated to the spirit of the mythic ancestor of the Đoàn clan (Thuỷ Tổ Họ Đoàn). This ancestor spirit is significant due to the important function of the temple—to unite the descendants of the Đoàn clan. On both sides of the main altar are small altars dedicated to an unnamed spirit (Thần Linh) and to the “spirit of the community” (Công Đồng).9

  • 10 In particular, a meeting of the local party committee can become a reason for visiting the temple a (...)

12In addition to the commemoration ceremony (lễ giỗ), other ceremonies are commemorated in the temple: worship on the days of the new moon and full moon, a ceremony on the eighth day of the first lunar month (early February, during the Lunar New Year festival), and small rituals on the occasion of the arrival of the Đoàn clan’s representatives visiting the commune for many reasons.10

Fig. 2. Altars at Đoàn Thượng temple during commemoration ceremony: the altar of the main hall (left) and the altar of the sanctuary behind it (right)

Fig. 2. Altars at Đoàn Thượng temple during commemoration ceremony: the altar of the main hall (left) and the altar of the sanctuary behind it (right)

Photo: E. Gordienko, May 2018

2018 Commemoration Ceremony

  • 11 About incense offering see Jellema (2007); Lauser (2016).
  • 12 It should be noted that Đoàn Thượng is the most distinguished ancestor in Đoàn clan but not the onl (...)

13In 2018, the celebration of the 790th anniversary of Đoàn Thượng’s death fell on 1 May on the Gregorian calendar. The festival, with the official name “Incense Offering Ceremony” (Lễ dâng hương),11 took place inside and outside the temple. The courtyard was prepared for the reception of several dozen guests and dozens of pilgrims: special awnings for members of the Đoàn clan who came from all over Vietnam, and awnings for residents of the commune and pilgrims.12 A flag inscribed with the hieroglyph “Đoàn” 段 was hung on a high flagpole in front of the temple. Cult attributes, such as a palanquin for carrying the statue of a deity, decorative ritual spears and additional tables for offerings, were placed outside for the festive procession with the statue of Đoàn Thượng (these attributes are kept in the temple on ordinary days).

14The worship ceremony took about two hours. After a festive procession through the commune, the statue was returned to the temple, removed from the palanquin and mounted back onto the altar. Appeals to Đoàn Thượng’s spirit were followed by offerings, in response to which the spirit is expected to provide protection. The offerings include pre-lit incense, flowers, fruits, sweets, rice cakes with beans and meat, and alcohol in ritual dishes. According to tradition, the rituals were performed by the most respectable residents of the commune and by representatives of the Đoàn clan, which included women (there are no special priests in the Vietnamese spirit cult). All other participants of the festival consistently approached the main altar for offerings, praying silently. In this collective action, communication with the spirit remained individual for each of the people who stood in front of the altar. After the ceremony, some people continued praying, sometimes in prostration.

Fig. 3. Ceremony attended by Đoàn Thượng’s descendants (left). A local woman worshiping after the main ceremony (right)

Fig. 3. Ceremony attended by Đoàn Thượng’s descendants (left). A local woman worshiping after the main ceremony (right)

Photo: E. Gordienko, Mai 2018

15The contrast in the social backgrounds of the festival participants determines the differences in the interpretation of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit. For the descendants of the Đoàn clan, the spirit is primarily the clan’s ancestor (tổ họ). In addition, they associate the pilgrimage to the temple with “roots-searching”, which help forward their integration into the Đoàn community. This aspect of the cult is articulated by members of the clan in answers to questions in interviews, on their official website, and on social networks, etc. At the same time, most of the participants of the festival are local people who came to the temple to pray for the spirit protection from calamities. Some of them were barefoot, many people came with children. They are not versed in the hagiographic stories and history of the Đoàn clan, but they only believe in the miraculous power of the spirit, so they esteem Đoàn Thượng as a guardian spirit of the commune (thành hoàng).

Fig. 4. Guests of the ceremony: representatives of the Đoàn clan (left) and local people (on the right)

Fig. 4. Guests of the ceremony: representatives of the Đoàn clan (left) and local people (on the right)

Photo: E. Gordienko, 1 May 2018

  • 13 Apparently ritual dances serve to attract spirit. They are conducted in front of the main doors of (...)

16After the rituals in the temple, the festival program continued in the courtyard. The stage set to the right of the temple was used for reading a story of Đoàn Thượng and for holding song and dance competition. The speeches of the honoured guests were interspersed with folk dances and songs. In my considered opinion, folk art performance not only serves as a decoration of the festival, but also refers to the ritual dances often performed in Vietnam when worshiping tutelary spirits.13

17After the rituals were completed, the honoured participants of the ceremony moved to a nearby cafe for a commensality (the cafe owner also belongs to the Đoàn clan). The oldest members of the clan were given the right to eat the offerings from the altar—rice cakes with beans and meat. It was strictly prohibited to take photos of this last process as a sacred act. Besides the ritual food, the table had the usual festive dishes and alcohol. After the meal, which lasted about an hour, the Đoàn clan members gathered in a small pavilion near the temple to resolve organisational issues (discuss contributed donation and management issues of the festival and of the clan organisation), following which they left the event.

2020 Commemoration Ceremony

18In 2020, the commemoration of Đoàn Thượng fell on 8 April on the Gregorian calendar, which was almost a month earlier than in 2018. The weather was rainy, but this did not impact the course of the ceremony, since only the temple part of the commemoration was held.14 The ceremony was broadcast on the Đoàn clan’s official Facebook group.15 Only six people (apart from the camera operator) performed rituals. As the camera operator told me, these are members of the organising committee of the Đoàn clan Council (Hội Đồng Đoàn Tộc Việt Nam) from the Hanoi and Hải Dương provinces. They wore medical masks in line with the instructions of the Vietnamese government.16

Fig. 5. Broadcast of the ceremony at the Đoàn Thượng temple on 08 April 2020

Fig. 5. Broadcast of the ceremony at the Đoàn Thượng temple on 08 April 2020

Participants stand in front of the main altar, one of them sitting down to beat the singing bowl with a wooden striker (left). Offerings on the back altar, including the book Sử họ Đoàn Việt Nam [History of the Vietnamese Đoàn Clan] (right).

Photo: facebook.com. April 2020

  • 17 The content of this book traces back to traditional Vietnamese family chronicles (gia phả家谱). For t (...)

19Before the broadcast began, offerings were laid out on the altars: flowers, sweets, glutinous rice, chicken, and ritual wine. On the back altar, as the most intimate place of the temple, a book, Sử họ Đoàn Việt Nam [History of the Vietnamese Đoàn Clan], was exhibited. Published in 2019 by the efforts of the clan’s representatives, this book contains the biography of Đoàn Thượng, his sons, and other members of the clan that are noteworthy in the history of Vietnam (such as general Đoàn Như Hài [1280-1335], Lê dynasty minister Đoàn Nguyễn Thục [1718-1775], Empress Đoàn Quý Phi [1601-1661], rebel Đoàn Hữu Trưng [1844-1866], Minister of Defense in 1992-97 general Đoàn Khuê [1923-1999] and many others).17

20The ceremony began with rhythmic drum and bell beats followed by the beating of the singing bowl with wooden striker. This is a common practice of invoking the spirit and expressing a request to come back to the altar and listen to the appeal. After that, all the participants lined up in front of the altar with a lighted incense and bowed with their palms in a prayer gesture. One of them (who had been beating the singing bowl earlier) took off the medical mask and turned towards the spirit. He called him a sacred spirit and the spirit of an ancestor, then mentioned the date of the ceremony according to the lunar calendar and listed the offerings. One by one, all the participants placed a lighted incense on the table in front of the main altar, and then on the back altar as well. The ceremony, which lasted for about five minutes, then ended.

  • 18 In Singapore, there was a “celebration donation service” for online donations in honor of spirits, (...)

21During and after the Facebook broadcast, comments appeared on the page. Viewers asked to pray for the blessing of the spirit for themselves and their families, for their well-being and prosperity, and for the strength to overcome life battles, including the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the quarantine measures, the ceremony was regarded as a necessity and an expression of deference to ancestors. It would not be surprising that before the ceremony, some of the viewers donated offerings to the altar or transferred money, but no online services for worshiping spirits were offered (such as online services in some Chinese temples of Singapore).18 Vietnamese bank system is not so developed as Singaporean, so offerings and cash are of more importance for temples than transmitted money.

Ancestor of the Clan, or Guardian Spirit of the Commune?

22As mentioned above, the contrast in the social background of the festival participants determines the differences in the interpretation of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit as an ancestor of the Đoàn clan (tổ họ) or as a guardian spirit of the commune (thành hoàng). The importance of the phenomenon of pilgrimage has also been noted. It is clear that the quarantine measures have changed this order of things.

  • 19 See Trần Đăng Sinh (2002: 169).

23First, with the simplification of the social composition of the participants, the ceremony was reduced to worshiping the ancestor of the Đoàn clan, while the spirit’s function of patronising the rural commune was not expressed. Meanwhile, the differences between these two interpretations of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit are fundamental. According to the theoretical classification of spirits, their categories are determined by social levels. Below is a table of the spirit veneration levels compiled by Trần Đăng Sinh (slightly modified by me):19

Table 1. Social levels of spirits veneration in Vietnam (according to Trần Đăng Sinh)

Social level Place of worship Worshiped spirits Ritual performer
Family Home altar of family ancestors Family ancestors (tổ tiên) Head of family
Clan Temple of Ancestors (đền) Clan ancestors (tổ họ) Head of clan
Commune Communal House (đình),
temple (miếu), pagoda (chùa)
Tutelary spirits
(thành hoàng)
Head of commune
State Temples (đền) in honour of Hung kings and national heroes Hung kings,
national heroes
Head of state
or central authority representative

24In theory, the veneration of clan ancestors and tutelary spirits occurs at different social levels and even in different places. However, not only the descendants of the Đoàn clan, but also numerous commune residents who were not members of the clan, attended the ceremony in the Đoàn Thượng temple in 2018. Offerings from the commune residents indicate that the spirit is worshiped precisely as the patron of the area (as it is in all nearby communal houses where Đoàn Thượng is worshiped as a tutelary spirit20). Consequently, the real situation is more complicated than the classification proposed in the table above: the demarcation between the interpretations of the spirit’s functions—ancestor or a tutelary spirit, is uncertain. The blurred boundaries of religious phenomena and a tendency to syncretism are inherent in the Vietnamese religious system. It is also significant that none of the interviewees in this study could explain the difference between the spirit of Đoàn Thượng acting as the ancestor of the clan from the spirit of Đoàn Thượng acting as the patron of the commune.

25In my opinion, the confusion between these two interpretations of the spirit is due to their common features. A key element of the cult is the articulation of the lifetime merits of an extraordinary personality as a basis for his veneration after his death. This feature is reflected in the hagiographical texts of the cult. The plot in these texts can be historical, pseudo-historical or mythical. In all cases, the merits of a spirit associated with a particular locality make that spirit a guardian spirit on the communal house altar. The lifetime merits of Đoàn Thượng include military exploitations and manifestations of such features as courage and fidelity to the Royal Court. This is why his spirit is considered to be active towards the living people in the areas associated with his deeds. During the pandemic, the idea of the spirit’s influence on people’s daily lives became more significant, since people turned to the spirit for patronage and protection.

  • 21 This communal house is located in xã Vĩnh Ngọc, huyện Đông Anh (chân cầu Nhật Tân).

26At the same time, the quarantine measures simplified the interpretation of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit. In the April 2020 ceremony, he was only considered the ancestor of the clan. Meanwhile, with the restriction of pilgrimage, people began to turn to spirits of the nearest communal houses and pray for the patronage of a particular locality. For example, one interviewee from the Đoàn clan who had participated in the ceremony in 2018 reported that in 2020 during the quarantine period, he failed to visit the Hải Dương province, which made him attend the ceremony in the nearest communal house in a suburb of Hanoi, where Đoàn Thượng is venerated as a guardian spirit.21 Thus, with the interruption of pilgrimage during quarantine, interpretations of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit became more unambiguous. This diversification of rituals must be interpreted as a return to a certain ideal, theoretical model having a clear demarcation of the spirit’s functions. As a result, the conjectural inference can be made that the spirit cult took its original forms.

Social Dimension of Temple Closures

  • 22 Such Vietnamese ritual specialists as thầy cúng, thanh đồng are not involved in official tutelary s (...)

27The right-hand column of the table above (“Ritual performer”) shows that the person responsible for worshiping is clearly defined at all social levels (as the Vietnamese tutelary spirit cult has no special priests22). A limited number of people may accompany this person. However, it is the leader of a ceremony who represents his family/clan/commune/state in communication with spirits. So, there should not be any outsiders in this sacred address to spirits, especially in strictly regulated ceremonies such as spirit worshiping at the commune and state level. Ordinary people (locals who are not member of the Đoàn clan) may always take part in ceremonies in honour of spirits, but only after the completion of a ceremony, and mostly outside the temple.

  • 23 See McAllister (2014).

28As my fieldworks of 2018 showed, these traditional rules are no longer strictly followed in today’s Vietnam. I have seen participants of different ages without hierarchy in the temple. Also, women and outsiders (a foreign researcher with a camera like me) are allowed into the temple. One of the interviewees noted that although access to the back altar is closed for outsiders, especially for foreigners like myself, “on the occasion of a great festival”, I may be shown the back altar. These transformations are more obvious in the city area. According to the Australian anthropologist Patrick McAllister, in the urban environment, religious ceremonies of the local spirits cult are converted to a public festival: the worship is postponed to the evening and celebrated jointly by neighbouring families.23

  • 24 In her study of the pilgrimage in Vietnam, Andrea Lauser proposes the hybrid terms “pilgrim-roots-t (...)

29The quarantine disrupted this situation and helped with returning the spirit cult to a somewhat ideal state. In 2020, the ceremony at Đoàn Thượng’s temple was attended by only a few people, who were the most respected seniors of the Đoàn clan. The even took on a more intimate character in the absence of dozens of the Đoàn clan’s members, pilgrims and tourists.24 At the same time, there was an individualisation of private religious experience for those who stayed at home and watched the ceremony on their smartphones. This separation, apparently, is not quite comfortable for the Vietnamese, who are accustomed to staying as a community all the time without claims to any personal space. It can be assumed that in the future in the event of new quarantines or the closure of temples for any other reason, a trend of the lowering of social inclusion in Vietnamese communities will be observed.

30The consequences seem even more significant for the residents of the Đoàn Thượng commune because of Internet access problems and the lack of smartphones in Vietnam’s rural areas. The cancellation of temple festivals is sensitive for local residents, especially in the moment of anxiety and the sense of urgency of appealing to spirits. Charity donations in temples are presently suspended. Charity is an important part of rural living. In Đoàn Thượng’s temple, residents of the commune have been offered tea and a concert program free (paid for by the Đoàn clan). Communal houses usually organise charity dinners for the elderly and the needy local people (paid for by the commune). In my opinion, the absence of joint festivals and charity can lead to a decrease of integration in local communities and to a social tension.

31As for the circumstances of Đoàn Thượng’s temple (and other places of worship) under the quarantine measures, closure for them means the removal of people from the sacred space and the loss of an important source of funding—donations.

Spirits Offering Protection

  • 25 See Cơ sở ngữ văn Hán Nôm (1987) Tập 4. Tr. 51-64. Thần Tích Thần Sắc Hà Nam (2004).
  • 26 Local elites often shifted responsibility for disasters onto a spirit and could even punish the sta (...)
  • 27 See Malarney (2002: 92-93).

32The Vietnamese believe that having received the offerings, the spirits have the mandate to protect people against calamities, including epidemics. This perception is reflected in the royal decrees on spirits that were published and distributed across the country from the sixteenth to the early-twentieth centuries.25 These decrees ordered the spirit to patronise rural communes and instructed its inhabitants to worship the spirit to avoid crop failures, floods and epidemics. In those days, the causes of calamities were sought in the loss of the protection of spirits and in inferior offerings to spirits.26 In the 1990s, after several decades of anti-religious policies, some Vietnamese continued to believe that their troubles (and even wars) could be associated with the revenge of the spirits caused by a long absence of veneration. In the meantime, increasing prosperity was frequently associated with the restoration of temples and ceremonies in honour of the tutelary spirits that made them benevolent.27

  • 28 A similar situation developed in Taiwan. Having closed its own borders in time, Taiwan managed to a (...)

33In my opinion, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic formed conditions for people’s confidence in the “effectiveness” of the spirits’ protection. Quick quarantine measures helped Vietnam avoid the brunt of the epidemic, the population was safe. Between January and the end of April 2020, Vietnam detected less than 300 cases of infection (all of them from outside the country) and zero deaths. During the entire year 2020, this number increased insignificantly: only 1474 infections and 35 deaths. As a result, the Vietnamese must feel an urgent need to perform rituals in temples even during periods of social isolation.28

2021 Commemoration Ceremony

34On 27 April 2021, another celebration of the remembrance of the spirit was held in the village community of Đoàn Thượng. However, this particular ceremony was not broadcast on the Internet. Moreover, after the ceremony, my informants did not provide me with any video materials. Only a few photos were posted on Facebook. With very little information available as of now, I will nevertheless offer a general description of the ceremony and outline the trend of the development of the situation.

35In April 2021, Vietnam recorded a few cases of the disease daily (with a total 2,857 cases from the beginning of the pandemic until 27 April 2021, the situation generally remained under control). The responsible authorities would regularly announce social isolation regimes at infection outbreak sites without enforcing a full lockdown. Holding a temple festival in such conditions seemed quite possible. Thus, preparations for Đoàn Thượng’s commemoration day began in earnest.

36A local authority represented by the People’s Committee of the Đoàn Thượng commune (UBND xã Đoàn Thượng) participated in the temple festival preparations. This activity of the authorities is optional. The People’s Committee usually only send representatives to check local event proceedings. However, in 2021, the commune’s authorities decided to facilitate a large-scale festival. Together with the temple administration and the Vietnamese Clan Đoàn organisation, the People’s Committee invited to the upcoming ceremony pilgrims among whom were representatives of all communal houses and temples where Đoàn Thượng’s spirit is worshiped, as well as descendants of the Đoàn clan from across the country.29 It is important to note that in Vietnam, local authorities representing the Communist Party actively take part in public life and often lead socially significant processes. This allows the authorities to maintain control over the event and set a vector for social development. Thus, Đoàn Thượng commune’s People’s Committee actively participated in organising the Đoàn Thượng festival as an important event resuming temple ceremonies after the quarantine measures. In addition, the authorities could use the temple festival as a platform for articulating the Communist Party’s successful measures in overcoming the epidemic and, in general, the party’s achievements in governing the country.

37Nevertheless, how can this greenlight by the authorities to hold a large-scale event be explained?

  • 30 It should be noted that these government measures did not stop the internal flow of tourists travel (...)

38I can see in this decision the necessity of compensation for the lack of religious life and a tangible decline in social integration caused by the festival’s cancellation in 2020. Communication with the tutelary spirit/ancestor of the Đoàn clan occurs during the obligatory ceremony for offering sacrifices on altars and during participation in the village festival, and, in my opinion, this communication should have been restored when the quarantine ended. I believe that it would also be important to thank the deity for the absence of a large number of epidemic victims (only 35 cases throughout the country for the entire duration of the pandemic until 27 April 2021). However, on the eve of the ceremony, quarantine measures were tightened again: just before the long holidays associated with the celebration of Victory Day (30 April 1975) and Labour Day on 1 May, the central authorities decided to impose some restrictions. As a result, the festival in honour of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit scheduled for 27 April was officially cancelled.30

Fig. 6. The ceremony at the Đoàn Thượng temple on 27 April 2021

Fig. 6. The ceremony at the Đoàn Thượng temple on 27 April 2021

Participants stand in front of the main altar (left). Speech of the Đoàn Thượng commune’s People’s Committee representative (right).

Photo: facebook.com. April 2021

39According to the photos on the Facebook page of the Đoàn clan (fig. 6), a small ceremony was held with the list of participants somewhat expanded. At least two of them (on the left photo) are representatives of the Đoàn clan from Hanoi (I have been acquainted with them since 2018). As can be seen, some of the participants are dressed in ceremonial robes. In addition, women who were absent in the 2020 ceremony are again taking part in the worship in 2021 due to a larger planned scope of the ceremony.

40Moreover, a stage was set up on the temple court to act as a site for the speech of Bùi Đức Tòng, Chairman of the local People's Committee and Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party Committee (fig. 6, on the right photo). His speech was posted on Facebook:31 Bùi Đức Tòng addressed the few arriving pilgrims (the so-called “delegates” [đại biểu]) on behalf of the commune and the locals. After the welcoming words, he talked about the coming 46th anniversary of Vietnam unification (on 30 April 1975), about the role of Đoàn Thượng commune in the liberation revolution of 1945 and the military events, defending and building the country, about enthusiasm of its young generation, about temple as an important “historical, cultural and spiritual” relic. He noted the modern achievements such as the collective successes of the Communist Party, the Government and the local people in building an exemplary rural commune as well. Further, continuing his speech in keeping with socialist rhetoric, he also called on the audience to solidarity, enthusiasm and thrift for the successful construction of the country, and urged people to actively participate in the upcoming elections to the National Assembly. He continued narrating Đoàn Thượng’s life story and the history of the temple restoration. After this, Bùi Đức Tòng called on everyone to pray to Đoàn Thượng (cầu nguyện Đức thánh) for everyone’s welfare and remember his merits as the ancestors of the assembled “delegates” did before. Since Vietnamese speeches are usually full of slogans and calls, this call to pray was also purely rhetorical and did not imply immediate prayer.

41From the description above, I can conclude that the cancelled festival did take place, albeit on quite a modest scale, since quarantine measures were in place but were not as strict as in 2020 when people’s movement was completely prohibited. One of those informants who did not attend the 2021 celebration has told me that, in his opinion, the size of the offering and the number of participants is not so important to the deity. The very fact of the ceremony is important, and if the offerings are poor, “the deity will be compassionate” (“thần cũng thông cảm”) and “will not scold its descendants” (“ngài không quở mắng con cháu đâu”).

42In 2021, the celebration of remembrance was also as small as in 2020. It did not become a significant event as a ceremony in honour of the tutelary spirit should be. In addition, most of the pilgrims refused to visit the temple after the official cancellation of the festival. In this situation, the online broadcast of the ceremony seems to me extremely necessary, but it was not conducted. According to the informants, they have a video recording of the festival, but it is not available on the Internet, and it was not sent to me at my request due to the lack of permission from the People's Committee, as the informants told me. It can be assumed that the People's Committee, fearing sanctions from higher officials, is avoiding public disclosure of the event in the situation of an ever-increasing number of cases of new infections.

43In any case, I can see from this case study that in Vietnam, online broadcasting has not become an integral part of the religious ceremony. Consequently, the online version of the ceremony cannot be identified with communication with a deity, and certainly cannot replace rituals. Moreover, Vietnam has not yet observed the already familiar situation of erasing the boundary between online and offline, in which a complete rejection of online services in the religious sphere (as well as in other spheres of life) seems to us already impossible even with the abolition of all quarantine measures.

Conclusion

44With the rhythm of life having changed during the pandemic, the religious practices in many countries, including in Vietnam, have also changed. In my analysis I have attempted to mark these changes through comparing of three ceremonies in honour of the Đoàn Thượng’s spirit. The differences of an ordinary ceremony in 2018 and shorter ceremonies that took place during the social isolation in April 2020 and the quarantine in April 2021 shows how the form and content of the cult have transformed.

45The closure of temples and social isolation led to ceremonies being broadcast online in 2020. However, in 2021 the ceremony was hold without broadcasting. During the pandemic, the ceremony in honour of the spirit in the rural temple (a mass event of the commune) was reduced to a short ceremony conducted by just a few descendants of the Đoàn clan. On the one hand, this reduces the degree of integration of the local community and exclude pilgrims from religious practices, which leads to a decrease in donations. On the other hand, restrictive measures brought the ceremony closer to its traditional forms: lay people, tourists were excluded from participation in rituals, while members of the Đoàn clan performed the role of representatives of their clan in communication with spirits as prescribed by tradition. Meanwhile, with the simplification of the social composition of the participants of the ceremony, the interpretation of the functions of Đoàn Thượng’s spirit was simplified. The spirit was worshiped as the patron of the Đoàn clan, and not as a tutelary spirit.

46It is important to emphasise that despite the quarantine restrictions, the ceremonies continue, and spirits continue receiving offerings. The spirits are believed to protect the people from calamities, including the epidemics themselves, while the hungry spirits can revenge and bring about misfortunes. In the face of anxiety and uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic, the appeal to spirits seemed expedient and helpful.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

CABASSET, Christine, JAMMES, Jérémy & MORAND, Serge, 2021, “L’Asie du Sud-Est à l’épreuve de la Covid-19. Regards interdisciplinaires”, in L’Asie du Sud-Est 2021, Christine Cabasset, ed., Paris-Bangkok : Les Indes Savantes-Irasec, pp. 107-134.

CADIERE, Louis, 1992, Croyances et Pratiques religieuses des Vietnamiens, tome I, Paris: L'École Française d'Extrême Orient.

Cơ sở ngữ văn Hán Nôm, 1987, Tập 4. [Hán Nôm Literature. Basic course. Vol. 4.], Hà Nội, NXB Giáo dục. Tr. 51-64.

DROR, Olga, 2007, Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

DYT, Kathryn, 2015, “Calling for Wind and Rain Rituals: Environment, Emotion, and Governance in Nguyễn Vietnam, 1802-1883”, Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 10 (2): 1-42.

FJELSTAD, Karen & NGUYEN THI HIEN, eds., 2006, Possessed by the Spirits: Mediumship in Contemporary Vietnamese Communities, Cornell University Press, New York.

GORDIENKO, Elena V., 2018, “Povestvovaniia o v'etnamskikh dukhakh-khraniteliakh obshchin (tkhantyt') kak istoricheskii istochnik: problemy interpretatsii” [Stories of Vietnamese tutelary deities of villages (thần tích) as historical source: the problems of interpretation], Trudy IVRAN [Papers of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences], 14 (2): 94-108 Moscow, IVRAN.

GORDIENKO, Elena V., 2021, Dukhi, zashchitivshie ot ėpidemii: kulʹt polkovodtsa Doan Tkhyonga vo Vʹetname v usloviiakh pandemii Covid-19 [Spirits offering protection: The cult of general Đoàn Thượng in Vietnam in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic], Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom, 39 (1): 123-143, URL: https://religion.ranepa.ru/home/archive/2021/419206/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

GRAHAM, Fabian, 2020, “Lingji: A religious response to COVID-19 from Taiwan (4 June 2020)”, CoronAsur: Religion and COVID-19 (Research blog on the official website of Asia Research Institute of National University of Singapore), URL: https://ari.nus.edu.sg/20331-12/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

JAMMES, Jérémy & SORRENTINO, Paul, 2015, “Géopolitique des religions au Viêt Nam. Les voies multipolaires d’une société civile confessionnelle”, Hérodote, 157: 112-125.

JELLEMA, Kate, 2007, “Everywhere Incense Burning: Remembering Ancestors in Đổi Mới Vietnam”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 38 (3): 467-492.

LAUSER, Andrea, 2016, “Pilgrimage Between Religious Resurgence, Cultural Nationalism and Touristic Heritage in Contemporary Vietnam”, in Religion, Place and Modernity. Spatial Articulation in Southeast Asia and East Asia, Michael Dickhardt & Andrea Lauser, eds., Boston: Brill, Series: Social sciences in Asia, pp. 149-183.

MALARNEY, Shaun Kingsley, 2002, Culture, Ritual, and Revolution in Vietnam, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

MCALLISTER, Patrick, 2014, “The Village in the City: Cúng Xóm (‘Hamlet Worship’) in Hồ Chí Minh City during Tết, the Lunar New Year Festival”, DORISEA (Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia), 11: 3-16.

NGUYEN ANH CUONG, TRAN THI NGOC THUY, ĐINH VAN NHAC & NGUYEN HAI ANH, 2021, “Main Characteristics of Belief and Religious Living in Vietnam”, Russian Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 2 (1): 129-138.

NGUYỄN VINH PHÚC & NGUYỄN DUY HINH, 2009, Các Thành hoàng và tín ngưỡng Thăng Long [Patron spirits and beliefs of Thanglong – Hanoi], Hà Nội : Lao đông.

NGUYEN-POCHAN, Thi Thanh Phuong, 2017, “L’enjeu culturel et patrimonial dans l’invention du mythe fondateur de la nation vietnamienne”, Les cahiers de la SFSIC, 13 : 225-239.

PHẠM QUỲNH PHƯƠNG, 2009, Hero and Deity: Tran Hung Dao and the Resurgence of Popular Religion in Vietnam, Chiang Mai: Mekong Press.

PHẠM QUỲNH PHƯƠNG & EIPPER, Chris, 2009, “Mothering and Fathering the Vietnamese: Religion, Gender, and National Identity”, Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 1: 49-83.

ROSZKO, Edyta, 2010, “Commemoration and the State: Memory and Legitimacy in Vietnam”, Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, “Religion and Politics in Southeast Asia”, 25 (1): 1-28.

SALEMINK, Oscar, 2015, “Spirit Worship and Possession in Vietnam and Beyond”, in Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia. Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge, pp. 231-246.

SORRENTINO, Paul, 2016, “The ‘Ghost Room’: Space, Death and Ritual in Vietnam”, in Religion, Place and Modernity. Spatial Articulation in Southeast Asia and East Asia, M. Dickhardt, & A. Lauser, eds., Boston: Brill, pp. 290-311.

Sử họ Đoàn Việt Nam [History of the Vietnamese Đoàn Clan], 2019, Hà Nội: NXB Thông Tin và Truyền Thống (ICPublisher).

TAYLOR, Philip, 2004, Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in Vietnam, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i.

TAYLOR, Philip, ed., 2007, Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-Revolutionary Vietnam, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Thần Tích Thần Sắc Hà Nam [Royal decrees and stories of tutelary spirits of Hà Nam province], 2004, Hà Nội, NXB Khoa học xã hội.

TRẦN ĐĂNG SINH, 2002, Những khía cạnh triết học trong tín ngưỡng thờ cúng tổ tiên của người Việt ở đồng bằng Bắc Bộ hiện nay [Philosophical aspects of the Vietnamese ancestor worship in the present day Northern Vietnam], Hà Nội: NXB Chính trị Quốc gia.

Vietnam 2020 International Religious Freedom Report, International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 United States Department of State. Office of International Religious Freedom (May 12, 2021), URL: https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/vietnam/ (accessed 29 March, 2022).

YING RUO SHOW, 2020, “Chinese Temples Go Online (18 May 2020)”, CoronAsur: Religion and COVID-19 (Research blog on the official website of Asia Research Institute of National University of Singapore), URL: https://ari.nus.edu.sg/20331-13/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

Haut de page

Note de fin

1 Concerning the Covid-19 pandemic in the Southeast Asia see: Cabasset, Jammes & Morand (2021); Research blog of Asia Research Institute of National University of Singapore, URL: https://ari.nus.edu.sg/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

2 See examples of these online broadcasts: https://youtu.be/T46FpaCZSw4 (for Easter) and https://youtu.be/73ljnN2DiGA (for Vesak) (accessed 29 June, 2021).

3 I studied the personality and path of life of General Đoàn Thượng in the extant hagiographic texts in comparison with medieval Vietnamese chronicles, see Gordienko (2018). For an example of the hagiographic texts of Đoàn Thượng, see Thần Tích Thần Sắc Hà Nam (2004) and Nguyễn Vinh Phúc & Nguyễn Duy Hinh (2009: 186-202).

4 Location of the temple: xã Đoàn Thượng, huyện Gia Lộc, tỉnh Hải Dương.

5 According to the U.S. government report, approximately 13 million of Vietnamese are religious adherents, accounting for 14 percent of the total population of 98.7 million (midyear 2020 estimate). Other individuals have no religious affiliation or practice animism or the veneration of ancestors, tutelary and protective saints, national heroes, or local, respected persons. See: Vietnam 2020 International Religious Freedom Report. International Religious Freedom Report for 2020 United States Department of State. Office of International Religious Freedom (May 12, 2021), pp. 2-4. URL: https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/vietnam/ (accessed 29 March, 2022).

6 For information about rituals of the Vietnamese folk religion, see Malarney (2002); Taylor (2004, 2007); Fjelstad & Nguyen Thi Hien (2006); Dror (2007); Pham Quynh Phuong (2009); Salemink (2015); Sorrentino (2016); Thi Thanh Phuong Nguyen-Pochan (2017).

7 The First Indochina War (called the Indochina War in France and the French War in Vietnam) began after the end of World War II in 1946 and lasted until the French defeat in 1954. The Second Indochina War (called the Vietnam War in the West or the American War in Vietnam) began in 1955 and lasted until the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.

8 It should be noted that repealing of anti-religious policy was conducted gradually and in several stages. I chose 1986 as the year signaling its end, since the policy of economic reforms (Đổi Mới) began in 1986. The reforms were followed by the democratization of public life, including religion. Important steps were made with issuing Government Decrees stipulating religious activities (No. 24-NQ/TW (1990), No. 59/HDBT, (1991), No. 69/HDBT (1991), and later No. 26/ND-CP (1999) and with revising the Constitution of Vietnam in 1992 (article 70). See also Jammes & Sorrentino (2015).

9 Full names, titles and functions of these spirits should be specified in royal decrees (from the sixteenth to the early-twentieth centuries), but all of them are lost in this temple.

10 In particular, a meeting of the local party committee can become a reason for visiting the temple and lighting incense. See https://www.facebook.com/ypdhu/posts/181383823372683 (accessed 29 June, 2021).

11 About incense offering see Jellema (2007); Lauser (2016).

12 It should be noted that Đoàn Thượng is the most distinguished ancestor in Đoàn clan but not the only worshipped as tutelary spirit. Đoàn Như Hài (1280-1335) and other war heroes are venerated in neighbourhoods.

13 Apparently ritual dances serve to attract spirit. They are conducted in front of the main doors of the temple or communal house. During Đoàn Thượng festival dances were performed on the special stage on the right edge of the court and performers addressed to numerous guests.

14 For comparison, it is of interest to note that when Singapore authorities restricted ceremonies in Chinese temples to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection (in March-April 2020), they however allowed rituals in the courtyard of the temple. The ancestral tablets in temples were relocated to open spaces. See Ying Ruo Show (2020), https://ari.nus.edu.sg/20331-13/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

15 See group Họ Đoàn Việt Nam: https://www.facebook.com/groups/180070036234727/; for the broadcast recording of the ceremony see https://www.facebook.com/100008555441098/videos/2261010980860728/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

16 For more information about the Đoàn clan Council see https://www.doantoc.vn/thong-tin-ban-lien-lac (accessed 29 June, 2021).

17 The content of this book traces back to traditional Vietnamese family chronicles (gia phả家谱). For the biography of Đoàn Thượng in the chapter “Vietnamese Đoàn Clan during the reign of Lý dynasty (1010-1225)” (Họ Đoàn Việt Nam dưới triều Lý [1010-1225]) see Sử họ Đoàn Việt Nam (2019: 51-55), https://www.facebook.com/ypdhu/posts/143161770528222 (accessed 29 June, 2021). See description of the book on the official website of Đoàn clan.

18 In Singapore, there was a “celebration donation service” for online donations in honor of spirits, as well as an “ancestor-praying package”—a set of offerings for the altar in the temple without personal participation for online order and payment. See Ying Ruo Show (2020), URL: https://ari.nus.edu.sg/20331-13/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

19 See Trần Đăng Sinh (2002: 169).

20 For a list of communes where Đoàn Thượng is venerated, see https://www.doantoc.vn/dhoanthuong (accessed 29 June, 2021).

21 This communal house is located in xã Vĩnh Ngọc, huyện Đông Anh (chân cầu Nhật Tân).

22 Such Vietnamese ritual specialists as thầy cúng, thanh đồng are not involved in official tutelary spirits cult.

23 See McAllister (2014).

24 In her study of the pilgrimage in Vietnam, Andrea Lauser proposes the hybrid terms “pilgrim-roots-tourist” and “pilgrimage-roots-tourism”, noticing that the rigid distinction that existed between different paths of journeys to sacred places has been blurred in today’s Vietnam. See Lauser (2016: 151).

25 See Cơ sở ngữ văn Hán Nôm (1987) Tập 4. Tr. 51-64. Thần Tích Thần Sắc Hà Nam (2004).

26 Local elites often shifted responsibility for disasters onto a spirit and could even punish the statue of the spirit (downgrade its formal status or even whip the statue). See Dyt (2015  20).

27 See Malarney (2002: 92-93).

28 A similar situation developed in Taiwan. Having closed its own borders in time, Taiwan managed to avoid both the epidemic and the quarantines. In addition, rituals against infection that were performed. See Graham(2020), URL: https://ari.nus.edu.sg/20331-12/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

29 See photos of Invitations that were posted on Facebook on 23 April 2021: URL:https://www.facebook.com/ypdhu/photos/pcb.305981957579535/305981867579544 (accessed 29 June, 2021).

30 It should be noted that these government measures did not stop the internal flow of tourists travelling around the country to relax at sea or to go sightseeing. In addition, new virus strains (new variants of SARS-CoV-2) entered Vietnam, despite strict quarantines for all those who arrived in Vietnam. A sharp increase in the number of cases began in May 2021 (4.5 thousand new cases of the infection during that month).

31 See https://www.facebook.com/groups/180070036234727/permalink/602315054010221/ (accessed 29 June, 2021).

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Main temple in honour of Đoàn Thượng
Crédits Photo: E. Gordienko, October 2017
URL http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/docannexe/image/9539/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 537k
Titre Fig. 2. Altars at Đoàn Thượng temple during commemoration ceremony: the altar of the main hall (left) and the altar of the sanctuary behind it (right)
Crédits Photo: E. Gordienko, May 2018
URL http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/docannexe/image/9539/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Fig. 3. Ceremony attended by Đoàn Thượng’s descendants (left). A local woman worshiping after the main ceremony (right)
Crédits Photo: E. Gordienko, Mai 2018
URL http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/docannexe/image/9539/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 660k
Titre Fig. 4. Guests of the ceremony: representatives of the Đoàn clan (left) and local people (on the right)
Crédits Photo: E. Gordienko, 1 May 2018
URL http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/docannexe/image/9539/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,0M
Titre Fig. 5. Broadcast of the ceremony at the Đoàn Thượng temple on 08 April 2020
Légende Participants stand in front of the main altar, one of them sitting down to beat the singing bowl with a wooden striker (left). Offerings on the back altar, including the book Sử họ Đoàn Việt Nam [History of the Vietnamese Đoàn Clan] (right).
Crédits Photo: facebook.com. April 2020
URL http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/docannexe/image/9539/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Fig. 6. The ceremony at the Đoàn Thượng temple on 27 April 2021
Légende Participants stand in front of the main altar (left). Speech of the Đoàn Thượng commune’s People’s Committee representative (right).
Crédits Photo: facebook.com. April 2021
URL http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/docannexe/image/9539/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 425k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Elena Gordienko, « Spirits Offering Protection: The Cult of General Đoàn Thượng in Vietnam in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic »Moussons, 39 | 2022, 151-170.

Référence électronique

Elena Gordienko, « Spirits Offering Protection: The Cult of General Đoàn Thượng in Vietnam in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic »Moussons [En ligne], 39 | 2022, mis en ligne le 29 juin 2022, consulté le 17 août 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/moussons/9539 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/moussons.9539

Haut de page

Auteur

Elena Gordienko

Postgraduate student at the Center for the Study of Religion, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia, Elena Gordienko was trained as a historian in Lomonosov Moscow State University, she specialized in Southeast Asia, studying Vietnamese, Cambodian, basic Chinese and even Old Chinese. She holds a second graduate degree in Religious Studies from the Russian State University for The Humanities and continued her postgraduate studies there, specializing in folk religion in Asia. She spent several years in Vietnam studying the cult of tutelary spirits. She translated old manuscripts concerning spirits, as well as studied the current state of the cult in different provinces of Vietnam.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Creative Commons - Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Haut de page
  • Logo Presses Universitaires de Provence
  • Logo Irasia – Institut de recherches asiatiques
  • Logo Aix Marseille Université
  • DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Revue soutenue par l’Institut des sciences humaines et sociales du CNRS
    CNRS - Institut national des sciences humaines et sociales
  • OpenEdition Journals
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search