Culture highlights

Water buffalo in Vietnamese culture

The image of the water buffalo has been shown in all areas of Vietnamese spiritual life for thousands of years.
The water buffalo is the second animal sign in the 12-year cycle of the Vietnamese zodiac, after the mouse and before the 10 other zodiac signs including the tiger, cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog and pig.

According to folk beliefs, the water buffalo is among the many sacred animals of Vietnam. Carved buffalo statues are in many temples across the country. Archeologists have found many buffalo statues at the Dinh Chang relic site and the stone buffalo statue at Kim Nguu pagoda (Bac Ninh) that dated back to the very early days in Vietnam history.  

The Tich Dien (Ploughing the Rice Field) festival is held in the northern province of Ha Nam on 7th day of the first lunar month.
In the photo: Revival the scene that King Le Dai Hanh ploughed the first field of the year with a buffalo. Photo: VNP

Buffalo fighting is a traditional festival of people in Do Son, Hai Phong city on the 9th day of the 8th Lunar month. Photo: VNP

“Trau Rom Bo Ra” (Festival of Straw Cows and Buffaloes) in Dai Dong commune of Vinh Tuong district, Vinh Phuc. Photo: VNP

Hmong people plough the terraced fields with water buffaloes in Khau Pha pass, Mu Cang Chai district, Yen Bai province after the pouring water season. Photo: VNP

Can Cau market in Si Ma Cai district, Lao Cai province is the largest buffalo market in the north-west of Vietnam. Photo: VNP

Mo khoan khoai is a ceremony of the Lu ethnic minority in Lai Chau province to honor buffaloes. Photo: VNP

Shaman Trieu Choi Hin uses the buffalo horn to invite the gods
at the new rice festival in Ho Thau commune, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang. Photo:  VNP


A buffalo festival held by people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Photo: VNP

During the pouring water season in the south of Vietnam, the water buffaloes are free. Photo: VNP

The golden water buffalo was chosen as the mascot for the 22nd SEA Games held in Vietnam in 2003 
For thousands of years, the water buffalo has helped farmers with the most physically demanding tasks like, tilling the land and hauling the harvest. The proverbs “con trau la dau co nghiep” (the buffalo is a prerequisite for starting a business), “Ruong sau, trau nai” (the large rice field, the fat buffalo), “Tau trau, lay vo, lam nha” (Buying a buffalo, finding a wife, and building a home) expressed the position and importance of the water buffalo in farmers’ lives. Just as the animal runs deep in Vietnamese culture, so do related festivals like, “Le hoi dam trau” (buffalo-stabbing festival) and “le hoi choi trau” (buffalo-fighting festival) that are celebrated across the country.

The water buffalo also appears in the treasure of Vietnamese folklore including proverbs, puzzles, fairy tales and legends.

The animal has come to represent the rustic Vietnamese nature and the country’s entire culture.