Buffalo Legends in the New Year of the Buffalo

10:12:29 PM | 2/11/2021

As the working animal closest to the farmer, the buffalo has long been a symbol of wet rice agricultural civilization in general and Vietnamese culture in particular.

The buffalo is associated with Vietnamese villages and farmers, evidenced by the image “The buffalo leads the plow.” Being gentle, hard-working and friendly, the buffalo becomes popular, close, familiar to everyone, from old to young, in the countryside. The image of a buffalo appears familiar and close as a sign of the homeland and the nation.

Furthermore, the buffalo is also one of the worshiped animals in folk beliefs. Vietnam has a custom of using buffalos for rituals. In early spring, from the royal court to the countryside, there are solemn procession festivals, praying for a rich crop, full herds of cattle and affluent life for all. Thai people (Yen Bai province) worship buffalos on the 14th day of the seventh lunar month, when the rice transplantation is completed. In some localities such as Bac Giang, buffalos are worshipped in traditional festivals. Buffalo festivals are organized in some rural areas such as Hoang Hoa and Nga Son (Thanh Hoa) and Vinh Linh (Quang Tri). In many temples, the image of a buffalo is also sculpted by artisans with different materials such as at Kim Nguu and Phat Tich pagodas (Bac Ninh); and Canh Phuc Pagoda (Nam Dinh).

In poetry and painting, there was a time when the image of a buffalo became a dominant symbol in Vietnamese poetry, painting and beliefs. It is difficult to enumerate all the artworks depicting the buffalo. Proverbs and idioms such as “Buffalo is the most important property of a family,” “buy a buffalo first, then get married and then build a house", and “Rice is best cultivated in a deep field, best buffalo is female", are popular sayings to any Vietnamese. The image of a buffalo also appears in Tet paintings from different schools, especially in Dong Ho paintings such as "Get rested after plowing" or "Buffalo boy".

Buffaloes also appear in many other aspects of life. Historically, Golden Buffalo, also known as Kim Nguu, is linked to the legend of West Lake of Hanoi. The Golden Buffalo symbolizes the desire for a good crop, affluence, happiness, strength and martial spirit of the Vietnamese people. The Golden Buffalo was the mascot of the 22nd SEA Games held in Vietnam in 2003. The buffalo-fighting festival in Do Son was held lavishly as a symbol of the strength of the people. Especially in the current time, the buffalo symbol is very suitable for the "slow but sure" development trend, characterized by gentleness, harmony, simplicity, hard work, industrious work, faithfulness and resilience.

Not only a symbol of Vietnamese culture, the buffalo is also a powerful feng-shui symbol. In Western culture, the buffalo symbolizes strength and fortune. The long, strong horns of the buffalo appear a lot in Greek or Egyptian mythologies, symbolizing patron gods with the strength that makes many people fear.

In Eastern culture, especially in Vietnam, the buffalo symbolizes gentleness, industriousness, hard work and honesty like the good nature of a buffalo. Through thousands of years of change and development, the buffalo's importance and meaning remain unchanged.

Besides, the buffalo symbolizes intelligence. This is also a motif of traditional decoration or fortune. Buffalo has a spiritual meaning as it connects human desires to gods. The buffalo also carries a symbol of hope for prosperity, wealth, and a desire for a peaceful life.

2021 is the Year of the Buffalo. The image of buffalo will be spoken of during the year. The year 2020 elapsed with a lot of difficulties caused by natural disasters and pandemic, it is hoped that the New Year of the Buffalo will bring everyone health, diligence and hard work to gain luck and success at work and in life.

By Ha Thu, Vietnam Business Forum