Vietnamese mythological creatures are as diverse as the people that believe in them. All over Vietnam, there are wide-ranging interpretations of the creatures and their significance. If you’re interested in learning more about Vietnamese mythological creatures, this post will give you a brief introduction to some of the most popular and well-documented ones! There are many myths about the Vietnamese people, some of which are simply stories as well as others with some grain of truth to them.
Continuing this trend is how the Vietnamese take on their mythological creatures. They have dragon-like creatures, phoenixes, and even a white elephant! The dragon-like creature is known as the Nhut Nguyan Tu or Golden Dragon in English. While it is not a true dragon by any means, it has an appearance that resembles one greatly. It has long spines on its back and wings that can reach up to 2 meters while they are a bit shorter than 1 meter long each.
1. Nhut Nguyan Tu
The golden dragon is often found protecting the royal palace or guarding the emperor. In Vietnamese, it is called Mộc đạo luân (or Mộc đạo lưu). It is also known as the “distant golden dragon” or “celestial imperial guard”. The creature’s body is like that of a lion and has a body covered with very long spines. In addition to being statues in the imperial palace, some believe that this creature can sometimes be spotted at night flying between mountains. This one’s most distinctive feature would be its long silver/white hair-like wings.
2. Bún Thiên Địa
The turtle-like creature originated from China. In Vietnam, this animal is known as the Bún Tiên Địa (or Bun Cung Dai). It is most commonly found in freshwater lakes and rivers. The turtle-like creature is sometimes depicted as having a head that looks like a tortoise. In some modern artworks, it has been depicted as having a human head with bat wings, but despite its differences from real turtles, it still has the same body shape. According to legends, the Bún Tiên Địa can fly and swim underwater with ease.
3. Lôi Vũ Tiên Biển
The white elephant is perhaps the most well-known mythological creature of Vietnam. It was said to have been found in the form of a white animal in the land of India. Legend has it that a Vietnamese princess went to India and married a man who had the power to make rain for his people by playing his flute.
Once he was finished, however, he had no way to get it home and thus sent his wife where he sent her before. The woman obtained a white elephant who then brought back water as rain for everyone. The white elephant is often depicted as having a tusk, trunk, and even a tail. This legendary creature can often be seen in modern Vietnamese art wearing the traditional costume of Vietnam.
4. Hải Vọng Nhân
This mythical creature is said to live in the ocean or any body of salt water. It has been described to look like a giant with two arms, two legs, and a human-like head. Its hair is made entirely of seaweed and it has yellowish skin like a fish. When humans get close to it, their faces become distorted by its bad smell then disappear after being hypnotized by its beautiful singing voice. Many Vietnamese today believe that this creature is the cause of drowning in the ocean.
5. Sinh Nhật Lệ
Another mythical creature originating from China is the Sinh Nhật Lệ or “birthday swallow”. It lives a long 1,000 years and has a human head and body. The wings, feet, and tail are that of a swallow as well as two black spots on each cheek. This mythical creature is said to be able to turn into any color or shape it desires. It can also fly across oceans to find its mate before they fly back up into the sky on the 7th day of each year. This creature is also thought to bring bad luck to whoever sees it.
6. Nữ Vương Bá
In Vietnamese folklore, this creature is the daughter of a dragon and a fairy. While she doesn’t have wings like her father, she has light blue skin, a long neck and hair as well as horns on her head. Her eyes are said to be very big, they’re black and glisten like jewels. She wears colorful butterfly-like wings on her back that resemble flowers when she flies around with other members of her kind in groups or flocks (as some sort of family). This creature is also said to be able to control lightning bolts!
7. Hoa Lư Hầu Tử
The final Vietnamese mythical creature I’m going to introduce you to is the Hoa Lư Hầu Tử or “flower fairy king”. It is said to be a large and very beautiful butterfly with a golden crown on its head that resembles an emperor. In addition, it has eyes that are solid gold, a golden silky body, and two wings of differing colors (one being red and the other blue). This creature can command all kinds of flowers as well as any other plants in the world.