Here is the fourth part of the Vietnamese epic myth A War Between Gods, plus added entries on myths associated with the reigns of Hung Vuong V and VI. For the other parts of A War Between Gods here is the link:

CANTO IV – Hung Vuong XVIII regarded the two remaining competitors for Mi Nuong’s hand with glee. He stated that the only competition that his daughter’s suitors hadn’t been subjected to was a test of raw power. Thuy Tinh demonstrated his power first, summoning the seasonal rains he was the lord of and bringing down such an intense downpour that rivers were quickly in danger of overflowing their banks. His point proven, Thuy Tinh instantly called off the rains and permitted the sun to shine again.

 Tan Vien now took his turn, causing trees, vines and other greenery to instantly spring up all around, even growing through the floors of the palace. In some versions he instead made a mountain spring up under the palace, causing it to grow until the palace was high in the sky. Either way, he then canceled out the effects of his power like Thuy Tinh did and everything went back to normal. 

Since both gods were equal in power Hung Vuong XVIII realized a different approach was needed to break the deadlock. He announced that the winner of his daughter’s hand would be the first of the two to bring him eighteen white elephants, eighteen tigers, eighteen green pearls and eighteen grey crabs (half the items from the land, half from the sea) plus various other gifts that differ from version to version. Tan Vien and Thuy Tinh immediately set out to obtain the items.

REIGN OF HUNG VUONG V – Hung Vuong V’s most favored son and likely succesor was An Tiem. This son was gifted in many languages and proved to be extraordinarily successful in commerce as well. Hung Vuong V’s other sons were extremely jealous of how favored An Tiem was at court and took to bitterly implying that it was only their father’s favoritism that made An Tiem so successful, not the other way around. An Tiem angily replied to his brothers’ taunts by saying he would be just as successful even with no help at all from their father.

Hung Vuong V was angered when his sons reported this to him and he summoned An Tiem. He ordered An Tiem to recant the statement that he had no need of him to be successful. An Tiem proudly refused, insisting his accomplishments were due only to his own talents and virtues. Furious, Hung Vuong V exiled An Tiem, his wife and their six year old son Hao to Sa Chau Island with no food or water or other supplies, telling his son that this would be a true test of how much or how little he needed help from his father to make his way in life.

With no alternative, An Tiem, his wife and son made a shelter for themselves out of resources on the island and obtained water from its ponds and streams. After a few months the trio were on the point of exhausting all available fruit and vegetable life on the island and would be forced to subsist strictly on their fishing catches and water.

At this point the goddess Au Co, ancestress of the Hung Vuong Dynasty along with her husband Lac Long Quan, intervened on An Tiem’s behalf, realizing he was the most worthy of Hung Vuong V’s sons. She sent a few Lac birds, her usual messengers, to An Tiem with mouthfuls of seeds for him to plant. He did so and a few months later they had produced fully ripe examples of the fruit we now call watermelons, providing the three exiles with food and also quenching their thirst with their moisture.

 Next the chief sea god Long Vuong caused a merchant ship to drift off-course to Sa Chau Island, where An Tiem and his family entertained the crew for awhile and introduced them to the watermelon. The merchant captain immediately realized the value of these new type of melons in a tropical climate since they satisfied two needs at once and exchanged some food, cloth and other supplies for some of the precious fruit. An Tiem invited the captain to come trade with him and his family regularly for the valuable new fruit which we’re told existed nowhere else in the world at the time.

Eventually many other merchant ships began to engage in commerce with the castaways (“Gilligaaaaaaaan!” Had to be said). Making shrewd trades An Tiem eventually was able to hire regular workers for his expanding estate which now grew other crops in addition to watermelon. Four years passed, during which the formerly  obscure Sa Chau Island became a thriving commercial port, the fame of which reached the ears of Hung Vuong V.

The monarch and his retinue traveled to the island, where, astounded by what his son had produced out of virtually nothing, Hung Vuong V acknowledged to his son that he had been right about his abilities and welcomed An Tiem, his wife and son back to the palace and named An Tiem heir to the throne. An Tiem ruled as Hung Vuong VI, and, under his pre-coronation name was eventually worshipped as the god of watermelons. The moral of the story: NEVER underestimate a watermelon-based economy.

REIGN OF HUNG VUONG VI – By most accounts the major myth of the god  of war, Thanh Giong, took place during this monarch’s reign. Other accounts instead place Thanh Giong’s saga during the reign of Hung Vuong IV and put the story of the god Chu Dong Tu during Hung Vuong VI’s reign. (See my first Vietnamese Myth page for details  on those myths)

After death this monarch was worshipped as the watermelon god (Great Pumpkin, eat your heart out!) under his pre-coronation name An Tiem (But what about Toto? I’m kidding!) His son Hao, who shared his four-year exile on Sa Chau Island and for whom watermelons were named in the Vietnamese language, went on to rule as Hung Vuong VII. 

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2010, and 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Filed under Mythology


  1. Priscilla Johnson

    Thank you so much for covering these myths. Your blog has more detail on this subject than any other site on the web.

  2. The people who disagree with one of the main ideas shall wholly comprehend where you are coming from with this.

  3. I really enjoy the blog post.Thanks Again.

  4. Pingback: A WAR BETWEEN GODS: VIETNAMESE EPIC MYTH | Balladeer's Blog

  5. I dont even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  6. Pingback: VIETNAMESE MYTHS: A WAR BETWEEN GODS | Balladeer's Blog

  7. Tandra

    Never knew this, thank you for mentioning these gods.

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