Kalevala – Now in Vietnamese

The finish epic tale of The Descendant of Mon Man is now published in a special Vietnamese version as a cultural cooperation project between Finland and Vietnam.


The project, sponsored by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, began in 2002. The epic tale was published by the Vietnamese Literature Publishing House in collaboration with the Finnish Juminkeko Foundation – a fund for the preservation of Kalevala traditions. The elaboration of the linguistic form and the revision of geographic and human names were undertaken by Dr. Vo Xuan Que. Finnish experts also participated in the project.


This traditional epic narrative, similar to the Finnish epic Kalevala, was pieced together using several different epics and folklore tales from several Vietnamese ethnic minority groups. The epic yarn includes a mythological section explaining the origins of the Earth, rice and buffalos, as well as the stories behind many other creatures. The second section of the tale is a heroic epic telling how Mon Man, the eponymous hero, defeats a series of enemies.


“The Descendant of Mon Man” was written by the translator, Dr. Bui Viet Hoa, who has spent many years studying epic tales from around the world, including a translation of Kalevala epic tale from Finnish to Vietnamese in 1994.  Bui Viet Hoa successfully completed a doctoral thesis at the University of Budapest on the subject of ‘Comparing the Kalevala Epic of Finland and the Birth of Earth and Water Epic of the Muong Ethnic Minority of Vietnam’.


The author applied the same methodology that Elias Lonnrot, the author of the Kalevala. Using this methodology, the author, in addition to taking the role of a collector and a note taker, also takes the role of the narrator and an artist. Through the use of this method, poems and their topics are integrated into the tale in the best possible manner.


Illustrations for the epic tale were drawn by Dang Thu Huong, whose paintings were displayed at the international exhibition ‘The Sound of Kantele’ organised in Finland, Hungary and Vietnam in 2005.  


The Finnish President Tarja Halonen calls the intercultural project a “typical work for the cultural cooperation between Finland and Vietnam”. The work and some illustrations are on display in Ho Chi Minh City until March 27.

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