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Ref ID: 22580
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Nguyên Xuân Hiên,
Title: Glutinous rice, kinship and the Têt festival in Vietnam
Date: 2007
Source: Kinship and food in South East Asia
Place of Publication: Copenhagen, Denmark
Publisher: NIAS
Notes: Introduction: Vietnam's geographical position between the two ancient civilisations of China and India has made the country a meeting point of various material, spiritual and ideological tendencies. Vietnam, in her turn, has actively contributed to the development of these other civilisations. As a result, the daily life of the Vietnamese is influenced by their neighbours' ways of life while at the same time retaining its own distinct identity. Daily life, of which two crucial components are eating and speaking, is represented in condensed form in material life. The Vietnamese are rice eaters. Around ninety percent of the population are peasants who make their living from the cultivation of rice. Their ancestors, living in the mountainous regions of the country, selected from <i>in situ</i> wild rice to produce the two types of rice cultivated today: glutinous and ordinary (Nguyên Xuân Hiên <i>et al.</i> 1976: 18). Nowadays ordinary rice is consumed on a daily basis by almost all Vietnamese, but in the past it was glutinous rice which was dominant. Its preponderant role is seen especially in ceremonial feasts and religious contexts with the participation of kin members. Notions of kinship reflect, among other things, the spiritual relationship between human beings in day-to-day life. During the Têt period, the Vietnamese New Year, the way rice is consumed, and more especially the way glutinous rice is consumed, reveals most clearly the particular patterns of human relationships which are characteristic of the Vietnamese. In this chapter I discuss, in multi-disciplinary terms and with ethnological, folkloric and cultural evidence, the relationship between glutinous rice in the Vietnamese Têt festival and the consolidation of kinship. Fieldwork data collected over the past four decades, as well as surveys and interviews undertaken recently provide the basic information on the basis of which I bring out key issues, corroborated by stories and travel accounts from past eyewitnesses.
Date Created: 4/14/2015
Editors: Janowski, Monica
Kerlogue, Fiona
Volume: 38
Page Start: 242
Page End: 286
Series Title: NIAS Studies in Asian Topics