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You are here:      Home News Symbols fertility
Symbols fertility

No - Nuong2Visitors to Hindu temples may be surprised to see stylized sculptures if human genitalia being worshipped as sacred objects. Known as Linga (male) and Yoni (female), in India, these objects are also considered holy by Viet (Kinh) people, who call them No and Nuong. The No – Nuong represent people’s ability to save their fellows from suffering and the supreme god who produced human society.

In India these holy objects often take the form of stone pillars and lotus garlands and are associated with perfection, good omens, beauty, creativity, and the inspiration behind poetry and music. Ancient people often portrayed lotus and satisfaction. These flowers can also imply optimism and pride. Some scholars suggest that the image of a yoni garland of lotus blooms encircling a pillar evolved into the laurel wreath – a European symbol of victory.


Hindus also view the Linga and Yoni as representations of the powerful god Siva. Sometimes Siva is portrayed as an axe-wielding thunder genie standing on a cloud, sometimes as a colossus following the wind with a trident, o as a general brandishing a word as stands on the holy ox Nandin. In his various incarnations Siva can be cruel and destructive or he can protect human beings. When his missions are complete, he returns to his original form, in which his left hand, place on his knee, holds a Linga. A large Linga pillar stands behind him.

Back in Vietnam, people considered No and Nuong as the starting points of humanity. This simple belief is evident in the image of a couple engaged in intercourse used to decorate the lid of a Dao Thinh bronze jar. Thousands of years ago people celebrated fertility. To this day, Viet people view the No and Nuong as symbols of vitality and growth.

Various cultures have incorporated these symbols into spiritual objects, amulets and precious items. The Yoni symbol has endured in round items like ear hoops, necklaces and bracelets worn (primarily by women) as decorations. Do these items allude to the victory of the laurel wreath or to touch and sexual satisfaction?

Some villages in Vietnam’s northern river delta feature old No – Nuong temples, like those in Di Nau and Tu Xa villages in Phu Tho. Some villages continue to worship these holy in the village’s communal house and holding spring No – Nuong festivals. Dong Ky villages in Bac Ninh province holds such as festival between the 30th day of the 12th lunar month and the 10th day of the first lunar month. This event involves traditional practices and rituals, including a No - Nuong procession from the Madam Temple to the village’s communal house and back, led by a senior man who holds a No in one hand a Nuong in the other and sings:

How to do it –it’s like this

It’s like this – this is how it’s done

After singing these two lines he thrusts the No into the Nuong, repeating the movement three times before pausing and starting again. The people walking behind him sing along, banging left hands with their right fists at the end of the second line.

People also make on No – Nuong shapes to eat and offer at annual spring festivals. On the sixth day of the third lunar month, Son Dong village in Ha Tay province holds a dance in which a coral tree branch is thrust through a bamboo tube. An offering tray of stuffed rice rolls and white sticky rice ties is presented to the neighboring village.

On the afternoon of the sixth day villagers gather at the communal house. An old – style songstress holds a No in her left hand and a Nuong in her right hand as she sings this familiar verse:

How to do it- it’s done like this

It’s like this – this is how it’s done.

She then thrusts the No into Nuong, repeating the song and actions three times. Onlookers sing along, using their hands to imitate the act of thrusting. The following afternoon the thrusting dance is repeated, and afterwards the singer throws the No – Nuong into the crowd.

In many villages No – Nuong festivals are so crowded that the ethnologist Tu Chi refers to people “rushing to worship fertility culture” Competing to catch the No – Nuong is thought to intense that he No and Nuong are even a single piece is considered very lucky.

According to old practices in Son Dong villages during the three month festival period, from the sixth of the second lunar month, young men and women were free to be intimate. Women who fell pregnant during this period are awarded 300 coins and the village performed wedding ceremonies free of charge. By contrast, single women who fell pregnant outside of the festival period were traditionally fine 10, 000 coins.

Old Viet beliefs hold that the No – Nuong represents a balance of opposites – positive and negative, male and female. When the thrusting rituals take place the universe is thought to pause, receiving and transforming contrasting elements into fertile soil and flourishing crops, flora and fauna. These beliefs are at the root of the Viet people’s No –Nuong festivals and their traditional jewelry.


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