History of Vietnam - Legends and Prehistory


A Legend

The Children of the Dragon and the Fairy is a legend about the origins of the people of Vietnam. Lac Long Quan, or Lac Dragon Lord, a descendant of Than Nong, the ancestor of agriculture, left his home in the sea and came to the Hong (Red) River plain, in what is now northern Vietnam. Here he met Au Co, an immortal fairy; they fell in love and were married.

Au Co gave birth to a hundred sons, now known as the Bach Viet (the Hundred Vietnamese). But one day, Lac Long Quan said to his wife, "I am a dragon and you are a fairy, like fire and water, we are incompatible. Because of this, I want you to take 50 of our sons with you into the mountains, and the other 50 will follow me down to the edge of the sea."

Lac Long Quan established a country beside the Nam Hai (South China) Sea, and he chose his eldest son, Hung Vuong, to be its first king. King Hung Vuong is known as the "ancestral king," and the Vietnamese people often refer to themselves as the grandchildren of the dragon and the fairy.


Archaeological discoveries have shown that Vietnam has been inhabited for at least 30,000 years. Today, some Vietnamese archaeologists believe that the legend of The Children of the Dragon and the Fairy represents the story of the Dong-son people, who lived in the Hong (Red) River Delta between 700 B.C. and A.D. 100. Also called the Lac Society, the Dong-son culture established a Vietnamese presence in the plains of northern Vietnam.

For thousands of years, the Vietnamese people have been developing their own distinct cultural identity. Influenced by - among others - the Indian and Chinese civilizations, and, more recently, the Western world, the Vietnamese have adapted and integrated aspects of other cultures with which they came into contact.

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