History - Culture

Monday - 20/03/2023 23:09
The name of Hoi An first appeared in the earliest literature in the beginning of the 17th century. Earlier than that, the name "Faifo" had been shown in maritime maps by the Westerners. However, in history, the urban area and trading port of Hoi An had formed and developed for a long period of time. It can be genarally divided into 3 periods: Pre-history, Champa, Dai Viet and Dai Nam.
      The Pre-history period (from the BC era to the 2nd century AD): The history of Hoi An trading port possibly commences from the late Sa Huynh period (about the 2nd century BC to the end of the 2nd century AD). Archeological relics from the Sa Huynh preriod include burial jars, tools, stone jewellery, ceramics, glass and metal objects that have been found at sites in Cam Ha, Thanh Ha, Cam Pho, Cam Thanh wards.
Artifacts excavated in Bai Ong site (Cham Island)
      Chinese copper coins (Wu Chou and Wang Meng period) and Xi Han period iron items similar to artifacts from Dong Son and Oc Eo sites indicate that the Sa Huynh traded with communities from China and from central and south Vietnam.

      Archeological excavations in Bai Ong (Cham Island) indicate that the Cham Island have been occupied for over 3000 years.

      Cham Period (200 - 1500 AD): During this period, Hoi An was known as Lam Ap Pho (Champa city) and was a major town of the Tra Kieu Kingdom which spread across present-day central Vietnam.
Burial jars of Sa Huynh culture in Hoi An
      Between the 9th and 10th centuries, Lam Ap Pho became an important commercial port, which attracted many Arab, Persian and Chinese merchants trading goods such as silk, pearls, tortoiseshell, gold, agar wood and drinking water. Remains of Cham-era foundations, wells, stone statues (including of the dancer Gandhara and of the god of fortune Kubera), along with pottery and ceramics from China and the Middle East, jewellery and coloured glass attest to bustling trade in Lam Ap Pho during the Cham period.
Champa traces at a excavation site in Hoi An
      Ultimately, the prosperous Trà Kiệu Kingdom was weakened through continuous war with the Dai Viet to the north and the Khmer to the southwest. The Dai Viet eventually gained the upper hand and gradually expanded southward. Le Hong Duc (1471) and Nguyen Phuc Tran (1693) pushed the border southward to the Cu Mong Pass in modern day Qui Nhon city (Binh Dinh Province), effectively annexing all Cham areas.
Champa Stone Statue found at Hau Xa site, Hoi An
      Dai Viet period: Succeeding the Cham were the Dai Viet (Vietnamese) who came from north and north-central Vietnam and who continue to be the main inhabitants of Hoi An. The Dai Viet period lasted from the 15th century until the early 19th century. According to the family annals of the Tran, Nguyen Viet, Nguyen Duc, Huynh and Le Viet clans, settlers to Hoi An came mainly from present-day Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh in the fifteenth century.
The “Giao Chi country’s maritime trading map” showing the maritime trading routes between Nagasaki and Hoi An is now kept in the Jyomyo temple in Nagoya, Japan.
      When the Dai Viet settled in Hoi An, they engaged mainly in farming (notably, wet rice cultivation) and fishing. Villages in the Hoi An area became increasingly specialized in particular forms of craft production and started to trade with other villages, which eventually led to foreign trade. Several of the craft villages exist today. For example, woodcarving is still practiced in Kim Bong, while pottery is still being produced in Thanh Hà Village.
"Shipping on the River Faifo" of John Barrow
      Hoi An benefited from its advantageous geographic location (close to the Thu Bon estuary, which had a deep harbour with easy access to ships) and from its protected harbour. China’s foreign trade policies during this period also had a significant impact on Hoi An’s development. The Ming regime in China had banned exports of several goods to Japan. To circumvent this ban, Japanese rulers of the Shuinsen era (1592-1636) issued special permits to allow ships to travel to South-East Asia, and to Hoi An in particular, to obtain Chinese products. During this period, the town saw a significant influx of Chinese and Japanese traders. Hoi An became an important trading centre within the country and in the region, and a melting pot of migrants, including settlers from as far away as India.

      By the early 17th century, the town of Hoi An was known as Faifo (or Hai Pho meaning seaside town) and was divided in two sections by the Chua Cau (Japanese Bridge), a unique covered structure built by the Japanese in 1593 and later rebuilt by the Chinese. One section of the town was Japanese and the other was Chinese, and each had its own governors and regulations.

      “Hoi An is a big seaport, a meeting place for merchants from many countries. The main road, three to four leagues long, runs along the bank of the river; it is bordered on both sides by closely built houses inhabited by people who came from Fujian. The street ends at the Japanese bridge, in other words Cam Pho; on the other bank, at Tra Nhieu, foreign vessels moored.”

      During this period, trade also flourished in Hoi An. The Dutch and other European traders established trading posts which operated between 1636 and 1741.3 The town became known to the French and Spanish as Faifo and was known by similar names in Portuguese and Dutch.

      During the first half of the seventeenth century, Hoi An became one of the gateways for Christianity. Catholicism was first introduced by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries between 1615 and 1658 and was later expanded by Dominican priests. Catholic missionaries created the Quốc ngữ (romanized Vietnamese script). A French missionary, Alexandre de Rhodes, was the first to publish a dictionary and a religious book in Quốc ngữ. From the late 18th century, political changes in the country and the region, combined with changes in Hoi An’s harbour caused by siltation, served to diminish Hoi An’s importance as a trading port, in favour of Danang.

      Dai Nam: The Dai Nam period began in the early nineteenth century (1802) and lasted until 1945. This period marked the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty, founded by the Nguyen family, who built their capital in Hue, north of Hoi An. Many Chinese merchants continued to visit Hoi An during the Nguyen Dynasty to exchange goods. During the typhoon season (August to October), Chinese traders often remained for prolonged periods. Relationships developed with the local population; Chinese traders intermarried with the Vietnamese women and established businesses in Hoi An.
Hoi An ancient town from above
      The French gained control of Indochina in 1886. Between 1887 and 1954, Vietnam was part of the French colonial empire in Indochina. Hoi An became a centre of nationalist movements within Quang Nam province. The Association of Young Vietnamese Revolutionaries was established in Hoi An in 1927.
Tran Phu street in 1992
      In 1940, during the Second World War, Japan gained military access to Vietnam through an agreement with the French Vichy Government. Japan then gained control of Indochina and governed Vietnam until the August Revolution, a period of demonstrations and uprisings against colonial rule throughout the country which tookplace between 19 and 25 August 1945.
Hoai River, a tributary of the Thu Bon River running through Hoi An
      The resistance leaders of Hoi An played a key role during the August Revolution. In recognition of this, the town of Hoi An was awarded the honourable title of “The People’s Armed Force Hero” on 22 August 1998. At the same time, 175 women of Hoi An were proclaimed “Vietnamese Heroic Mothers”, while six villages, two armed force units and sixteen individuals were recognized as “The People’s Armed Force Heroes”.

      1945 until today: Following the end of the Second World War, conflict intensified between nationalists (the Viet Minh) and French colonial forces, culminating in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The victory of the Viet Minh in this battle marked the end of French colonial rule and led to the partition of Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel, with the north governed by the Viet Minh and the south under control of foreign colonial powers (United States, United Kingdom and France).

      Between 1959 and 1975, the Vietnam War, also known as the Resistance War against America, was fought between the Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the United States and its allies. On 2 July 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was declared. In 1979, there was a brief border war between the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which affected Vietnam’s ethnic Chinese community, including that in Hoi An. Border skirmishes continued in the 1980s, but since the 1990s, Vietnam has been in a state of peace.

      Hoi An was a quiet, rural town until it began to receive significant numbers of tourists in the 1980s, which brought about changes in its economy and population. In 1999, Hoi An was inscribed as a World Heritage Site, which has accelerated these changes.


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