Civilization of Mekong Delta - About the Structure & Living Life

Compared to the structure of civilization of the Red River civilization, structure of the Mekong River has quite fundamental differences. In the Red River Delta, from Ly dynasty to the Tran dynasty and Ly dynasty had gathered both talents and material on the irrigation and hydro-therapy which focused on water resources, for example, building dam protecting levees around Thang Long capital and complete the Red river dike dam system, Thai Binh river, Ma river, Chu river, etc.  From upstream river to the sea, it is to prevent floods and sea inroad.
The sunset on Mekong Delta

While exploiting the Mekong Delta, Vietnamese firstly had to adapt to the ecological environment here and studied local knowledge and experience of residents of the Mekong River Basin, in which had the group of South island and Mon -Khmer who were not only skillful in the conquest of the country but also knew how to utilize and optimize the water extraction. Thus, residents of the Mekong Delta really had created a new structure for the river civilization in this region. Paying little attention to water resources, people of the region and the government cared for the irrigation combined with expanding water transport. Perhaps the structure of this civilization was the irrigation: usage and optimal exploitation of the water to make up a complex river civilization including sun rice civilization, canals civilization, floating market civilization, port civilization and orchard civilization. From flood civilization and flood control, Vietnamese people created floating civilization and lived with it. Mekong Delta civilization has contributed significantly in completing the culture structures of the foundation for Vietnamese culture that unite diversely: Hong Ha-Mekong.
Currently, the increase in population and the impatient mining are damaging the structure of this civilization that does not include climate change and the fact that Mekong River upstream block has negative impacts on ecosystems. The problem today is to maintain and preserve these important factors, and the inherent structure formed civilization diverse rivers in the Mekong River Delta to develop it in a sustainable way.
Starting from Phnom Penh, the Mekong River is divided into two branches: the right is the Bassac River (in Vietnam called the Hau Giang or Hau river) and the left is the Mekong (in Vietnam called Tien Giang and Tien River).

Cai Rang floating market that is hold daily on Bassac River.
Cai Rang floating market that is hold daily on Bassac River.

The distributaries of the Mekong River flowing in the territory of Vietnam are called the Mekong River with about 220-250 km long. They discharge of huge flow, about 6,000 m³ / s in the dry season, up to 120,000 m³ / s in the rainy season, and carry lots of alluvial deltas created vast southern Vietnam.
  • Hau River flows through Chau Doc Long Xuyen (An Giang), Can Tho City, Soc Trang and empties into the sea by three gates: Dinh An, Ba Thac, Tranh De. Ba Thac, in the 1970s, had been filling up so that Hau River has only 2 estuaries today.
  • Song Tien has a wide riverbed with many islands, running through the Tan Chau (An Giang), Hong Ngu and Cao Lanh (Dong Thap) to Cai Lay (Tien Giang) and then is divided into four rivers flowing into the sea by six estuaries.
  • My Tho River flows through the Tien Giang Province, My Tho City and south of Go Cong, entering the sea by Dai and Tieu estuary.
  • Ham Luong River flows through the southern area of Ben Tre
  • Co Chien River, forming the boundary of Tra Vinh-Ben Tre Province (formerly Vinh Binh), pours into the sea with Cung Hau estuary.
  • Ba Lai River flows through the northern side of Ben Tre (formerly Kien Hoa) to Ba Lai estuary.

Tourists experience Ben Tre on boat.
Tourists experience Ben Tre on boat.
Mekong Delta is a relatively new creation on a delta which is the typical landscape of a river ecological wetland. History of water civilization in the Mekong Delta started very early, from the first millennium BC. Under the influence of Indian civilization, in the first 6 centuries AD, inhabitants of this land had created brilliant civilization Phu Nam civilization which is typical of downstream Mekong countries in the past. Mekong Delta civilization was named the river civilization with full and diverse meaning: Civilization of rice - rice from sky, canal civilization, floating market civilization, urban civilization and garden civilization.
Civilization of floating rice - rice from sky: From ancient time, the delta had rice fields being emerged. It was regarded as rice sky because residents at that time had to do nothing. Rice maintained growing in the flood while others were strangled not keep up the water, and at the end of each season, they flourished, became luxuriant and ready for the harvest.
Canal civilization: The sky rice harvest takes place at the end of the flood season so residents have to make a wooden canoe, raft to move in certain water, form channels which turn into paths during the dry season and in flood season lines. Later when many residents centers are established, it is connected directly to the canal waterways, canals, and the creation of water dock where boats congregate to form a floating market.

Mekong Delta is more authentic with the imagine of fishermen.
Mekong Delta is more authentic with the imagine of fishermen.
Stilt against flood civilization: The canals once a year are so deep into the vast rice fields between wetlands. Residents begin to form rice storage in the middle of the harvest and gradually create stilts for residents and as storing food for next season. Houses are built in the floor where the high ground beside the road in flood season as a place to avoid flooding. Stilt against flood civilization begins from there.
Floating market civilization: In the period Oc Eo - Funan (1st to 7th century), it formed an array of floating markets as we are seeing now: Phung Hiep, Cai Rang and Chau Doc, Cai Be.
Port marketing civilization: people had established two international commercial ports located on the path of flavors, one in the east called Ria Nai (Rinai) and one in the West called Oc Eo (Oud) in the Ba The Mountain. Maritime trade routes went straight from Rach Gia Bay to the port of Ria Nai to Can Gio, but not come to the Ca Mau peninsula as today. Oc Eo port is a complex including river ports and seaports, as well as the convergence of more than 30 rivers connected to the urban area. The river port is located in the east of Ba The Mountain and is a gathering place for the domestic terminal blocks forming a floating market. 1.5 to 3 kilometers far from the harbor is a port formed by the deep water between the rocks of the Noi Mountain.
This is the place that boats moored to receive the material from the market in the region, as well as where the exchange of goods between ships from the East such as China, Japan, with ships from India, Ba Tu takes place. Frankincense is called "ud". The spices to preserve food, sea pearl, oyster species, glass, precious stones, rhino horns, ivory and wild boar are brought from the commercial port of Oc Eo. Bustling commercial activities of port of Oc Eo makes it become the prosperous capital city that traders pay taxes in silver! The memoir "strange story of the South", written by two Chinese ambassador, Zhou Yongkang and Chu Ung, is described Funan ships which are big enough to carry hundreds of people with 40 -50 rowers. Oc Eo merchant activities were very methodical at that time. From the fourth century, the Persians also crossed the waterway to visit the Iranian community in Oc Eo before heading into the South China Sea, which remains the same route until the eighth century.
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