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Old An Tinh

Thank Philippe Papin and his Ha Noi team at the Ecole Française d’ Extrême Orient for having undertaken the reediting of Old An Tinh by Hippolyte Le Breton, first published in 1936. This work that has become rare and virtually impossible to find deals with the patrimony of Nghệ An and Ha Tinh provinces, which were parts of the old region of An Tinh (or Nghe Tinh, Nghe country). 
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In all times, An Tinh has been famous for its picturesque sites, miraculous temples and great individuals who constitute the pride of the nation. Among these heroes let us cite Nguyen Du (1767-1820) the national poet; Ho Xuan Huong (early 19th century) a poetess reputed for her anti-Confucian feminism and avowed carnal love; Nguyen Cong Tru (1778-1859), the renowned poet, administrator and economist; and Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), founder of modem Viet Nam, not to mention the hundreds of laureates of mandarin competitions and contemporary illustrious characters.
 
Why such an abundance of miraculous sites and such an affluence of remarkable men in An Tinh? Geomancy explains this phenomenon by the dia linh nhan kiet principle: magical land gives birth to individuals out of the ordinary. The configuration of the terrain, the winds and waters thuy), the mountains and rivers exhale creative effusions of inexhaustible vital forces.
 
This reasoning leads us to recall the famous considerations of French writer M. Barrés (1862-1923) about the “places where the spirit blows.” In La Colline Inspirée (1913) the words of the nationalist writer are: “There are places which puli the soul out of its lethargy, places which are enveloped and bathed in mystery. Where does the power of these places come from? Is it due to the memory of some great historic act, to the beauty of an exceptional site or to the emotions of crowds that have visited the land for years on end? Their virtue is more mysterious, illustrious or unknown, forgotten or coming to life, places of such character attract us and make us admit unconsciously an order of facts superior to that which our life ordinarily turns us to, it seems that these lands, charged with a special mission, must intervene to create superior beings and promote high moral ideas.”
 
But let us leave behind Barrés and his mysticism which belongs to another culture and return to Viet Nam’s An Tinh. The book on old An Tinh by Le Breton, former director of the Vinh High School, has been re-edited in the framework of fraternal links between An Tĩnh and the French department of Côtes d’Armor.
 
An Tinh has a relief typical of the provinces in central Viet Nam. A strip of land sandwiched between the Truong Son Range and the sea is made up of narrow valleys encircled by mountains or cut off from the sea by lagoons. In this large region, Le Breton distinguishes eight small “countries,” each with their distinct characteristics (topography, geographical and human features). He studied successively the countries of Dien Chau, Vinh, Ha Tinh, Ky Anh, Duc Tho, Ngan Pho and the valleys of Ngan Sau and Lam Giang.
 
This academic work was compiled by a researcher who worked in libraries and on the field (observing the area’s topography, visiting temples, conversing with inhabitants, reading steles...). The book is pleasant to read because it is full of folkloric details. One can even use it as a cultural tourist guide.
 
Local history is often clarified by national history. Lying at the southernmost point of ancient Viet Nam, next to Champa, An Tinh marks the most important stage of the people’s march to the South. The people of An Tinh -having to face constant incursions of the Chăm, an inclement climate (heat and hot winds from Laos) and an unproductive land - have forged themselves iron wills. Many have emigrated to other provinces or enrolled in the army. An Tĩnh also sent many of its school masters to other regions.
 
As p. Papin noted, the monograph compiled by Le Breton belongs to “the rare category of books which, after being read in the silence of a library, would gain much more from being consulted on the spot, amidst the landscapes, places and people which they evoke and revive...
 
However, if these places are too familiar to you, let's take a Thailand cambodia vietnam tour to discover more new things.
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Update : 23-03-2018

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