Chapters 1-3

North, South, and Champa Vietnam

Activity Method
Trade Barter using rice

North Vietnam (Kiau-chi)

Kiau-chi, the ancient Kiau-chou, to the east and the south reaches to the sea and borders on South Vietnam.

  • To the west is the Pai-i Man.
  • To the north is K’in-chou,

The Chinese dynasties kept troops continually stationed in North Vietnam, although the revenues derived from it were extremely small, while military occupation was extremely expensive.

  • Because of this, our current dynasty advised to remove our troops from this pestilential climate.

The king of North Vietnam has a Chinese surname.

  • The clothing and food of the people are practically the same as those in China, with the exception that people go barefooted.

Every year, on the 4th day of the first moon, they kill oxen to have a feast with their kinsfolk. The great annual feast-day is on the 15th of the 7th moon.

  • All families exchange civilities and give entertainments.
  • Officials present their superiors with live animals.
  • Those superiors then give a feast in return on the 16th.

On New Year’s day, they pray to the Buddha, but they do not make presents to their ancestors (as we do in China).

When they are ill, they do not use medicines. During the night they do not keep lamps burning.

Their best musical instruments are those covered with boa-constrictor’s skin.

They do not know how to manufacture paper and writing brushes, so those from our provinces are in demand.

Their products are:

  • ch’on-Uang (gharu wood)
  • p’ong-lai (gharu wood)
  • gold
  • silver
  • iron
  • cinnabar
  • cowries
  • rhinoceros horns
  • elephants
  • kingfishers
  • cotton
  • lacquer
  • tree-cotton
  • salt
  • shells

Tribute is sent annually to the Court of China. It does not have foreign trade with China, but trades with neighbouring South Vietnam which is 10 days sailing away.

South Vietnam (Chan-chong)

Activity Method
Trade Barter using rice, wine, and other food

The sea route east of South Vietnam leads to Canton.

To the west, it borders on Yunnan. To the south it reaches Chonla India.

To the north it is confined by North Vietnam, whence it communicates with Yung-chou.

From Guangzhou, South Vietnam can be reached in 20 days sailing with a favourable wind.

The country extends from east to west 700 li, from north to south 3000 li.

The capital is called Sinchou.

  • They use the designations of district city and market town.
  • Its city walls are of brick and are flanked with stone towers.

When the king shows himself in public, he is seated on an elephant or is carried in a cotton hammock by four men.

He wears a golden cap and his body is ornamented with strings of pearls.

Whenever the king holds his court, encircling his throne are 30 women attendants carrying swords and bucklers or his betel-nut.

At audiences the officials present make one prostration and stop.

When the business has been concluded, they again prostrate and retire. The forms of prostration are the same for men and women.

In cases of adultery both the man and woman are put to death. Theft is is punished by cutting off the fingers and the toes.

In battle, they bind 5 men together in one file. If one runs, the file is put to death.

If a Chinese is left behind by a native while lying dangerously wounded, the latter is treated as a murderer and put to death.

South Vietnamese are fond of cleanliness.

  • They bathe from 3-5 times daily.
  • They rub themselves with a paste made of camphor and their clothes with fumes of various scented woods.

The climate is agreeably warm year-round, neither extremely cold nor hot.

Every year on New Year’s day they lead a chained elephant through the city, after which they turn it loose. This ceremony is called driving out evil.

In the fourth moon, they play at boat-sailing, when they have a procession of fishing boats and look at them.

The full-moon day of the 11th moon is kept as the winter solstice. At that time, cities and towns all bring the king the products of the soil and of their industry.

The people usually plough their fields with 2 buffaloes.

They have no wheat. But they have millet, hemp, and beans.

They do not:

  • cultivate tea.
  • know how to make fermented liquors

They only drink the coconut juice.

For fruits, they have the lotus, sugar-cane, bananas and coconuts.

They also produce:

  • elephants’ tusks
  • the tsien
  • ch’on and su (varieties of gharu wood)
  • yellow wax
  • ebony
  • white rattans
  • ki-pei cotton
  • figured cotton stuffs
  • damasked cotton gauzes
  • silk
  • white muslins (or po tie)
  • fine bamboo matting
  • peacocks
  • rhinoceros horns
  • parrots*

The cutting of scented wood in the mountains is conducted under government control.

  • The tax paid to the government is called the scented wood poll-tax, just like the Chinese¬ęsalt poll-tax
  • Once the full amount due has been paid, the may trade in it on their own account.

Money is not used in trade.

  • They barter with wine, rice, and other food substances; with these they settle their accounts yearly.

When a person is killed by a tiger in the mountains or by a crocodile, the relatives submit the case to the king. The king then orders the high-priest to invoke the gods and recite incantations and to write out charms, which are scattered about at the place where the person was killed. Then the tiger or crocodile comes out. An order must be secured to kill it.

If the complaint is fake, the officials order the complainants to pass through a crocodile pool. If they lied then the crocodiles will come out and eat them. If they have been truthful, they may go through it ten times and the crocodiles will flee.

They buy people as slaves. A boy is 3 taels of gold or the equivalent in scented wood.

When a trading-ship arrives, the officials board it with a book made folded slips of black leather. They write out in white a list of the goods.

The goods are bartered, with 20% tax is claimed by the government. If there be goods omitted from the manifest they are confiscated.

Foreign merchants trade in camphor, musk, sandal-wood, lacquer-ware, porcelain, lead, tin, samshu and sugar.

The dependencies of South Vietnam are:

  • Kiuchou
  • Wuli
  • Jili
  • Yueli
  • Weijui
  • Champa (Pintunglung)
  • Wumapa
  • Lungyung
  • Pulokanwu
  • Liangpau
  • Pitsi

South Vietnam had only infrequent relations with former Chinese dynasties. During the hien-to period of the later Chou (951-960), it sent its first tribute mission.

During the kien-lung and kien-lo periods of the present dynasty (960-967), it sent native products as tribute.

In 981, Li Huan of North Vietnam Kiau-chi returned 93 Chinese prisoners of war to Beijing.

  • The Emperor Taitsung ordered them to stop at Canton to be fed.

From that time, South Vietnam has constantly presented tribute.

  • The presents so freely bestowed by the Imperial bounty to it had allowed it to express its admiration for Chinese civilization.

Cambodia is a journey of 5-7 days from South Vietnam

3. CHAMPA (Pin-tung-lung)

The ruler of Champa wears the same kind of head-dress and clothing as that of South Vietnam.

The people cover their dwellings with palm-leaves, and protect them with wooden palisades.

They send yearly products of the country as tribute to South Vietnam.

The country gets its name from the venerable saint Pintoulu. The foundations of the hut of Mulien still exists here.

In 987, it sent tribute to China together with the Arabs.


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