Week 14: Thần trùng – a vicious demon that torture the dead

This week on #VNmyth, a demon responsible for chained death in a family.

Sự thật về thần trùng, trùng tang có thật không | Trùng tang liên táng |  Tâm linh có thật | Tamlinh.org
For lack of a better illustration, let’s go with this.

I. Description

Thần trùng (“thần” being “god,” “trùng” being “repeated,” “repetitive,” “happening again”), also known as “quỷ trùng tang” (with “quỷ” meaning “demons,” and “tang” meaning “funerals”) is a feared demon throughout Vietnam, notorious for creating chained funerals of whole families.

Appearances-wise, thần trùng manifested itself in the land of the living in the form of a bird, with a human-like face and a red beak. It frequents graveyards, preying on the graves of newly dead people.

The origin of this demon varied greatly from tales to tales. Some said they are demon gods banished from China and drifted to Vietnam in a sealed box. That box was foolishly opened by man’s greed, unleashing the abominations into the daily lives of people. Another claims that these monsters were once warlocks of the Mongols army who–along with Phạm Nhan–were killed in the battle between Đại Việt and Đại Nguyên during the 13th century. Nevertheless, thần trùng was a force to be reckoned with.

II. How it hunts:

Thần trùng used the habit of Vietnamese people to its advantage.

It’s generally believed that for the first 7 weeks, the dead souls frequently get out of and go around their own grave. The demons would then infiltrate to capture the poor soul. Then, thần trùng would torment the spirit of said person until s/he can take it anymore and tell the demon the whereabouts of and the names, date of birth (remember the whole eight lettered birthtime that acts the same way as someone’s true name?) of all their family members. With this information, thần trùng will go to the dead person’s house and kill everyone they had the info/can get their beak on. Thus, “chết trùng” “trùng tang liên tang,” other than the typical “chained death/funerals” can also be understood as “death by thần trùng.”

III. Comments from me:

_ Thần trùng might be representing the fear of being betrayed by a family member of the Vietnamese people.

_ They were also created to explain sounds similar to crying/moaning that can sometimes be heard at the graveyard.

_ The fact that this demon has two names, one of “thần” and the other “quỷ” further illustrate that in Vietnamese culture, gods and demons are judged by their deeds, not their origin or powers, and just because a being is called “thần,” does not mean people pay it respects.

_ In the old day, due to the fear of these monsters, a custom was made. The family of the dead people will send a member to the cemetery every night to guard the grave of the newly deceased for 49 days straight.

_ Thần trùng is one of the antagonist of book 1 of the Half-Dead Series, appearing as early as chapter 6, and officially mentioned by name from chapter 8.

_ Not a promo: an indie game from a Vietnamese studio featuring this monster gonna hit Steam sometime in the future.

_ Lastly, FYI, Phạm Nhan was used to call postpartum hemorrhage, with a myth that goes along with his death. We may cover it some other time.

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