The nymph who sits on top of trees and sings an eerie lullaby; wandering ghosts that seek to possess a victim’s body by calling their name in the night during a certain month of the year; or demonic white tigers that haunt the night and terrorize villages…these are all familiar Vietnamese terrifying myths, spine-chilling tales that were told to generations next to a dimly lit oil lamp.
As we reach October and Halloween draws near, we at Du lich tu te would also like to contribute to the spirit of the spookiest month of the year by introducing you to Ma Quỷ Dân Gian Ký (The Chronicle of Folk Spirits) , an illustration project by Duy Văn (also known as Diwan). Through the tip of his brush, Diwan brought terrifying supernatural beings from Vietnamese folklore to life.
When interviewed by the Saigoneer magazine, Diwan shared his wish to encourage people, especially younger generations to learn and appreciate the rich cultural wealth of Vietnam. He saw that other countries, such as China, Japan, and Korea, have very specific portrayals of supernatural entities, and this helped to inspire other creative endeavors such as cinema, manga productions that help to promote their culture to the world. The idea of creating Ma Quỷ Dân Gian Ký came to Diwan when he saw the lack of representation that Vietnamese folklore has, despite its incredibly rich material.
Diwan shared that, due to the nature of orally told folktales, Vietnam’s spiritual entities are often vague in description, and there are many different variations of the entities depending on the locality or ethnicity and cultural background of the storyteller. It proved a challenge to Diwan, who had to collect available information on horror story forums, various books and illustrations, and tales that he collected from friends and family. The young artist worked diligently to put together vivid and hauntingly beautiful illustrations of mythical creatures and spirits, alongside a compiled profile pertaining to their origins, appearance, and behaviors. The young artist’s passion and love for Vietnamese folklore is evident in his work.
Diwan plans to move on to more ambitious projects in the future, such as publishing an illustrated book and planning an exhibition to present his work to a larger audience. For the moment, you can follow and support Diwan and his impressive project on the Facebook page of Ma Quỷ Dân Gian Ký.
And remember to follow Du lich tu te, as we seek to bring you more insight into the fascinating essence of Asian culture!