Sắc phong honor-conferring diplomas in Vietnam

Author: Nguyen Doan Minh (Vietnamese Association of Folklorists)
Speaker: Nguyen Doan Minh
Topic: Narrative and metanarrative
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Sắc phong are honor-conferring diplomas issued by the royal court on deities worshipped in communal houses of villages in particular, and those worshiped in other types of space of belief like temples, shrines, in general. In diplomatics, a sắc phong bears high values for research from various perspectives. Its contents, with splendid words of honor, contribute to reflecting the merits of the awardee and demonstrate the meaning of the diploma as well as the time when it was issued. Its form, which includes the patterns, layout, material and colors, brings about aesthetic values. To a certain extent, such values maintained in the diplomas also reflect the contemporary characteristics and styles.

This paper discusses the discourses of Royal courts in relation to communal and upper society worship, in villages throughout Vietnam. The paper argues that these worship rituals have maintained a certain dynasty of intensification, which, through changing throughout the centuries, yet, which have uniqueness at the time of offering the diploma. This uniqueness thus clearly indicates an intensification, bounded by communal, ritual, and sociocultural awareness.

The study has found that these diploma offering rituals, held in these communal houses, have been well integrated into the expectations of society, and the extravagance of vocabulary and its usage during these ceremonies crosses into general Vietnamese society.

Keywords: Sắc phong diplomas, Worship, Rituals, Vietnam