December 2009 has been a busy month for tales of the recently departed and not-so-recently departed. As with all things Vietnamese, there is a continuum between the living and the dead that often defies explanation. The following three snippets offer an insight into the manner in which life is preserved in death in an ageless Vietnam.
The Strange Case of the Undecomposed Corpse
In the middle of December, a story emerged of a corpse that had not aged in over 41 years. The reason why the corpse was exhumed was because an elderly father had a recurring vivid dream that informed him of his dead son’s preservation.
His family and the other villagers were initially resistant to the father’s demands to dig up the body. But when a mysterious stranger suddenly appeared in the village and confirmed the father’s story, it was agreed to exhume the son’s remains.
Naturally, everyone anticipated foul odors when the body was excavated. They duly swathed Face An Giang their faces with vinegar-soaked towels to blanket the anticipated smell. To their amazement though, upon prising open the coffin lid, the state of the body was as if he had died the day before.
His hair was full and still black; his skin rosy pink. Everything about his son’s appearance was as the father had described. Word quickly spread and a team of six doctors from Ho Chi Minh City came to examine the dead son. Initial reports have been unable to explain the phenomenon and research is ongoing.
The King Returns
Rust never sleeps. Nor do the memories – and remains – of kings of yore.
A commune in the central province of Thanh Hoa has insisted that King Le Du Tong (1679-1731) of the Le Dynasty be reburied where his coffin was found, instead of its present location in the National History Museum in Hanoi.
The king is to be reburied in a special ceremony at Xuan Giang Commune’s Bai Trach Village, where his body was discovered in a coffin in 1958. Under the plan prepared by the descendants of the Le Dynasty (1428-1788), the king’s mortal remains will be moved on December 26.
The village belonged to the Le’s hometown. Some of Le Du Tong’s royal descendants – King Le Hien Tong (1497 – 1504) and King Le Chieu Thong (1786-1788) – are also buried there.