THE PIG IN VIETNAM’S CULTURE
Culture, according to the broadest sense, includes relations – interactions between people with the natural environment and social environment.
Or in the narrowest sense, culture consists of 2 – 3 realms: Thought – Literature – Art.
Wild boar- the scientific name is Suidae – is natural. People – biologists – study about it, they found that it was breeds of pigs, including wild boar and pig.
Prehistoric people hunted / shot (with traps, and by wooden arrows) wild boar. At Keo Lèng vestige (Lang Son), which existed in 5-10 thousand years ago, Vietnamese archaeologists have found “the skull” is smashed … It must be to eat!
Food cooking has been an art culture. In Indochina in general, Vietnam in particular, biologists have found that there are 02 species of wild boar: faded-cheek boar(SUS Vittatus) and stripe boar (Sus Cristatus).
Wild boar’s fangs had been used as jewelry and amulet or medicine from the ancient time until today. And it was all classified in the cultural category by UNESCO.
Prehistoric art (4,000 years ago), which is on the walls of many prehistoric caves – show the image of a wild boar being portrayed in its ferocious situation (actually, the nature of the pig, in general, is gentle and shy, but when they need to deal with an enemy attacking them like tiger, wolves and human, the biggest pig often resist very strongly . Prehistoric people often used sharp stone tools to carved contours of wild boars on the limestone cave wall to create the animal body part. That is how prehistoric people created the original shaping which is inherited and promoted later.
By the time of the new stone age,which is the beginning of agricultural development – (10,000 – 6,000 years ago), the human had tamed the boar (catching wild boar, the boar was wound by the arrow shot and locking them up in a closed fence) ,turned wild pigs into domestic pigs : Transforming nature (wild pigs) into cultural products (domestic pigs), then from domestic pigs,people make a lot of dishes through cooking art such as bun cha in Hang Manh street, roll meat ( a unique specialty of Vietnam that has been written meticulously by great writer Nguyen Tuan), or boiled and rare dishes … Processed pork also is used to make all kinds of dishes like banh chung, banh gio, banh te… (very typical of Vietnamese New Year) and bun nem, bun bo gio heo (typical of Hue culture) cha gio (typical Saigon – South Vietnam). Moreover, there are many famous dishes made from pig like thi dong, tiet canh long lon, which are considered the local dishes in all the country.
Pigs have gone deep in the culture and the custom of Vietnam: There is a village where pigs are worshiped, only in the important the festival of the village, people brings “Mr. Pig” to the sacrifice. The more common thing is the tray of rice and pork(boiled, grilled)” in the death anniversary, the funeral .. and the wedding. There is a custom in the old Vietnamese: If after knowing that the bride had “lost virginity” before/after they get married, the head of the pig (boiled / roasted) was cut to return the bride’s family in front of the neighbors’ eyes (now this has changed)
People say: “Dirty like pigs”, it must be because of the behavior of pigs that they like to immerse in the mud. But in our mountainous areas, there are places where pigs sleep next to human to be warmer and in some Western countries, people raise pig like a pet. And in Germany, for example, in the Christmas holidays, the wood carved animals, including pigs, are considered the Symbol of Happiness.
There are two unique manifestations of Vietnamese folk visual art with pigs:
– In terms of sculpture: The piggy bank was painted with different color, with different sizes and have a small hole for the children of the old days to save money. When the piggy bank is full of coins then children will break the pig to buy something they like.
-In term of painting art: the image of the pig always appear in Dong Ho painting.
The image of a pig has gone deep into the culture, into a folk song and into the daily life of the Vietnamese people. At the Museum of Ethnology, the image of a pig has become an extremely unique water puppet character.