Sunday, October 25, 2015
Bumping Into Vietnamese Sorcerer (巧遇越南巫师)
A Vietnamese folk altar with influence of Taoism.
I visited Vietnam occasionally for business and besides that; I enjoy the famous Vietnamese coffee and when I have the opportunity, I also like to visit some local sorcerers. It was during one of my visits that a friend of mine introduced me to a Vietnamese Chinese sorcerer who said that he has about 20 over varieties of Ngai plants in his collections. So, I eagerly made an appointment and visited the sorcerer’s house.
This is an interesting fellow, he has got almost Taoist style altar but with a distinct flavour. I suspect that some of the Chinese characters were wrongly written. For example the 天他 (heaven and him) should mean 天地 (heaven and earth) as shown in the above picture. Nonetheless, the influence of Taoism is very clear. There are also a Guan Yin statue and an ancestral template. A very interesting feature of this altar is that there are many small horses meant for the sorcerer’s military spirits.
After visiting his altar, he showed me a variety of his Ngai collections and we returned to his living room to chat. According to this sorcerer, he has a very special version of Kumanthong made from remains of a baby and soil. Unlike the Thai Kumanthong, His Kumanthong spirit can change shape and it is very powerful. He wanted me to feel his Kumanthong’s power so he asked me to hold it in my hands. I did what he said but I didn’t feel anything. But I did tell him politely that I felt some vibrations in my hand.
On hearing what I said, his face showed a flash of confident and proud expression. He then said that he shall call upon his Kumanthong spirit to possess his body. As soon as he said that, he started to chant some mantra and his body slowly made clockwise rotation. Not long after that he begun to giggle and behaved as if a toddler. My friend said I can ask anything I wished to know; but I just shook my head. Well, what can a toddler know really?
As I was in a hesitation state, the Kumanthong spirit suddenly behaved like a monkey. It made the sorcerer jumped up and down and then ran towards the altar to pick up a coconut. Then the ‘monkey’ peeled the coconut with its teeth and then drank the water. The sorcerer dance for a while and finally he settled into a chair next to mine.
We waited until the sorcerer regained his consciousness. As we were about to express our intention that we must leave for another event in the evening, the sorcerer pulled me aside and asked if I was interested in purchasing his ‘special edition’ Kumanthong with a donation of USD1,000?
I thought for a while and said to him that if his Kumanthong gave me a dream that night, I shall return to him in the morning… Of course, I didn’t have any dreams and I certainly didn’t return to the sorcerer. I supposed the saying that ‘money is everything’ (钱能通神) does ring a bell!