The birth and the historic evolution of Hoi An
In Dai Viet (Ancient Vietnam), foreign trade was a need; but in order to protect the country from foreign domination, foreign trade centers were created far from the capital city. In 1149 (the 10th year of the reign of Dai Dinh), the king Ly Anh Tong had the port of Van Don, near Ha Long Bay, improved in order to welcome Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Arab and Western trading vessels. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Trinh Lords created the commercial trading centre of Pho Hien (Hien Nam) - a short distance yet far enough away from the capital - and allowed the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, English and French to establish their trading posts there. In the south (Cochinchina, or Dang Trong), the Nguyen Lords were not idle in efforts to compete with the northern Trinh Lords. They followed the same policies. Hoi An was selected as a foreign trade centre for two reasons.
It is located near the Dai Chiem estuary (Sea port of Champa) whose depth allowed easy access to ships and gave Hoi An priority over other ports in Dang Trang. Cam Ranh was not yet a port. In addition, its back country was not as rich in resources as Quan Nam (called by foreigners the Nation of Quan Nam) which serviced Hoi An. The land route leading to the seat of the Nguyen Lords (first in Ai Tu, later in Phu Xuan) had to cross the Cloud Pass, a very steep saddle; this Pass was ever longer, than that from Pho Hien to Thang Long. Hoi An was not close to the Chiem Dinh (in other words, the dinh of Quang Nam, located in the village of Thanh Chiem). This distance of several dam (7 to 8 km) by land or water was well-suited to defense and to the management of an important commercial port.
I. Hoi An: An important urban centre
The Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi (History of Unified Dai Nam), which discusses Quang Nam, noted the following about Hoi An: "The port city of Hoi An is located on the banks of the big river, to the south of the villages of Hoi An and Minh Huong; its brick-covered houses spread out over two dams. Chinese residents form five congregations (according to their provinces of origin: Guangdong, Chaozhou Fujian, Hainan, and Jiaing). They trade in Chinese goods, share common house, market, meeting hall where merchants gather. To the south, the Tra Nhieu lake shelters ships coming from the north and the south; it is an important urban centre."! The Italian Jesuit missionary Christoforo Borri, who lived in Dang Trong (kingdom of Cochinchina) from 1618 to 1621, wrote this about Hoi An: " ... Nevertheless the main port is one of the provinces of Cacciam (Ke Chiem, in other words dinh Quang N am). One enters this port from two openings onto the sea: one is called Pullociampello (Cu Lao Cham, across from Dai Chiem); the other Touron (Tourane of Da nang), which at the beginning is threeor four leagues apart and then separates further as they go inland becoming two rivers. They eventually become one river, on which one encounters vessels that have sailed on either one or the other of its parts.
'There, the king of Cochinchina granted concessions to Japanese and Chinese. The size was proportionate to their number, in order to create a city where the much talked-about fair would be held. "This city is called Faifo; it is a fairly large one as one part belongs to the Chinese, another to Japanese; they live separately, each having their own governor, the Chinese living according to the laws of China The Japanese according to those of Japan. A Chinese author, Thich Dai San, arrived in the royal capital on March 13, 1695 (the 29th day of the first lunar month of the year of At Hoi); on August 7, 1695 (the 28th day of the 6th month), he left his pagoda to go to Hoi An in order to return to Guangdong. He described Hoi An in this fashion: "Along the coastline, the rocks are rugged; a rand of monkeys gambol in the trees; there are wild flowers and fruits of every color everywhere. Seen from afar, the shore resembles a sea of masts, and one learns that these are junks transporting supplies anchored awaiting the wind.
"Hoi An is a big sea port, a meeting place for merchants from many countries. The main road (Dai duong cai), 3 to 4 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. They wear the clothing of the previous dynasty (Ming). Most of the women take care of the commercial dealings. Chinese residents generally married many local women in order to facilitate negotiations. "The street ends at the Japanese bridge, in other words Cam Pho; on the other bank, at Tra Nhieu, foreign vessels moored. The population density is very high; all day, people buy and sell vegetables,. fish, fruits, and shell-fish. Here, one can find medications which do not exist in the capital, Thuan Hoa. The city is close to the sea on three sides - to the east, south, and north; the west, a mountainous region, a road links Tay Viet (western Vietnam) to Dong Kinh (Tonkin); a type of garrison to defend against foreigners is a bout t en leagues from the city."! In calling it" Nha t ran tho", perhaps Dai San was referring to the earthen citadel of the old dinh Chiem (within the village of Thanh Chiem)?
In the Phu Bien Tap Luc (Miscellaneous Writings about the Border Areas), completed in 1776, Le Quy Don wrote about Hoi An in this fashion: "Usually, the articles are produced in the Phu of Thanh Hoa, Dien Ban, Qui Nhon, Quang Ngai, B inh K hang, and in the dinh of N ha Trang. The merchandise is transported by water or by horseback over land, and everything converges on the port city of Hoi An. "Here (in Hoi An), Chinese merchants buy products to bring back to their country; the products are so abundant that even one hundred large junks would not be sufficient to load them all at one time.
"It is impossible to list all the pharmaceutical ingredients: hoat thach, thiet phan, hai sam (holoturie) ... which number in the hundreds. "Ky nam huong costs 120 quan per can. "High quality gold is worth 180 loi per thoi (half bar). "A roll of fine fabric costs 3 quan 5 tien. "Prices for good quality nhuc que (a type of cinnamon), tram huong, and tran chau are very variable. Tu dan wood (red sandalwood) is not as good as that found in Siam."? Le Quy Don further describes the imported articles: "The goods are quickly sold; there is no left-over inventory. The goods imported (by the Chinese) are quite varied and the exchanges fulfill all requests: gauze, satin, multicolored brocade, rolls of cloth, hundreds of types of pharmaceutical ingredients, gold leaf, silver leaf, gold chains, silver chains, perfumed essences, paper of all sorts, ink, needles, buttons, furniture, sa sao, objects in copper, pewter, porcelain, earthenware, ceramic ... Food products include betel, oranges, pears, lemons, apples, thi cakes, loaves of bread, vermicelli, noodles, nuoc mam sauce, oil, soya, lime, fermenting agents, alcohol, ginger, mushrooms called "wood ears," perfumed mushrooms, etc ...
In reference to the regulation of entry and exit of vessels, Le Quy Don writes: "In Minh Huong (Chinese immigrants loyal to the Ming) villages in Hoi An, Cu Lao Chiem, Cam Pho, and Lang Cau, a mandarin is the representative of the authorities. When a foreign ship comes to Quang Nam for commercial purposes, either by "the sea-mouth of Dai Chiem" to go to Hoi An, or through Da nang to go to Luy Lau, it must offer products of its country and pay the stated import-export taxes." "Sometimes, junks sent by the Celestial court came from Zhejiang to Shanghai to buy merchandise. Dutch ships went to Macau to make purchases. "
In 1772 (Nham Thin) and 1773 (Quy Ty), there were fiscal cutbacks. "In the year of Tan Mao (1771), 16 vessels came from other countries to the port of Hoi An and paid 38,000 strings of sap ekes (quan). What Le Quy Don wrote about "transport regulations" indicate the preponderant role played by Hoi An in the foreign trade of the whole kingdom of Cochinchina: "Each year during the first moon, civil servants from the Department of Administration and Control of Merchant Ships had to go to Hoi An, They shared the work among themselves and sent some of their soldiers who spoke foreign languages to the garrison of the ports of Cu Lao Chiem and Da nang. These soldiers had to inspect and monitor each ship entering port."? Beginning of 1615, Jesuit priests arrived in Hoi An to convert the local population as well as Japanese nationals. Some of the missionaries were part Japanese.
According to the Dai Nam Thuc Luc Tien Bien (The Real History of Dai Nam Prior to the Current Dynasty), in 1585, "a leader of Western pirates named Hien Quy stopped in Cua Viet with his five large junks to raid and rob; the Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered his 6th junks; two pirate ships were destroyed." The truth is that Hien Quy was a Japanese who had come several times to Hoi An. Such a mistake, however, indicates that right from the end of the 16th century, Japanuse commercial vessels had frequented the kingdom of Cochinchina and Hoi An.
The role and position of Chinese immigrant merchants, including the Minh Huong, were the subject of a study by Nguyen Thieu Lau and Chen Ching Ho. Other foreign merchants as well traded with the kingdom of Cochinchina. In 1636, a Dutch company established a concession in Hoi An headed by Abraham Duijcker. In 1695, the British East India Company sent a commercial agent named Bowyear to negotiate the opening of a concession in Hoi An with the Nguyen Lords; the negotiations failed despite the fact that Peacock had undertaken the dialogue on behalf of this company since 1613. Bowyear commented: "This Faifo is a street along the river, flanked on both sides by a row of houses numbering around 100, inhabited by Chinese, except for four or five Japanese families. The latter formerly were the principal residents and were the masters of the traffic at the port. "Fewer in number and not as wealthy as before, commerce has now been taken over by the Chinese with at least 10 to 12 junks corning each year from Japan, Guangdong, Siam, Cambodia, Manila and recently Batavia. Aside from Japanese, Chinese and Dutch merchants who had concessions in Hoi An, traders from other countries whom we have not yet been able to identify frequented this port city.
II. Geographic evolution of Hoi An
From the beginning of the 19th century to the French occupation, Hoi An included 6 villages: 12 Minh Huong, Hoi An, Co Trai, Dong An, Diem Ho, and Hoa Pho. Since the French occupation, it seemed that Hoi An grew to become an urban centre, while still being comprised of 6 villages: Ming Huong, Hoi An, Cam Pho, Hoa Pho, An Tho (ex Dong An), and Phong Nien (ex Duong Ho). The difference between these two periods is not great, but it is characterized by the following changes: expansion of t he village of Cam Pho, and abandonment of the name "Co Trai" (merged since 1883 with Minh Huong). The study of historical documents available to us allows us to characterize the geographical evolution of Hoi An according to the following periods:
1. When Hoi An was part oj Dien Ban district, Trieu Phong prefecture, Thua Tuyen Thuan Hoa. According to the 0 Chau Can Luc (Recent Notes on 0 Chau), collected and completed by Duong Van An in 1553,13 Dien Ban district had at the time 66 villages, over half of which would survive until the cadastral survey of 1814. A few geographical names survive until this day. In the sector expanding from the sea-port of Dai Chiem to the ancient dinh (administrative division) of Quang Nam, we note the names of 6 villages: Cam Pho, Hoai Pho, Nhan Chiem, Uat Luy, Lai Nghi, and Lien Tri. The 4 villages of Cam Pho, Uat Luy, Lai Nghi, and Lien Tri registered in the cadastre appear on the maps of the French period. The name of Nhan Chiem was not noted when the cadastral survey was conducted; but An Nhan and Thanh Chiem (where there was the county-seat with the citadel of the dinh of Quang Nam) were subjected to a land-measuring survey (it is possible that An Nhan and Thanh Chiem derive from the word Nhan Chiem). Similarly, Hoai Pho is absent from the list. According to one hypothesis, "Thu Bon had had the name of Hoai Giang (Hoai River); from this, Hoi An was called Hoai Pho as well, in other words the port city on the Hoai."!" Was Hoi An's ancient name Hoai Pho?
2. The name Hoi An appears on the map Thien Nam Tu Chi Lo Do Thu (Book of Maps of the Four Cardinal Points of the Southern Country), drawn in 1630 and 1653. This map, drawn by Do Ha, is found in the Hong Due ban do (Hong Due Maps);'! On the part of the map which we reproduce here, we can read the following names: Dai Chien hai mon (opening on the sea of the Great Champa). Hoi An Pho (port city of Hoi An), Hoi An dam (Hoi An pond) and Hoi An kieu (Hoi An Bridge) accompanied by a picture of a covered bridge. Thus, the name Hoi An had existed at the latest before 1630; and if "Hoi An" derives from "Hoai Pho" according to the stated hypothesis, it should have existed before 1553.
3. The name "Hoi An " was confirmed by its geographical location on the map of the year of Giap Ngo in 1774 after the pacification of the south (Giap Ngo nien binh nam do). Bui The Dat (honorific title: Doan quan cong) , after his military victories over the north of Dang Trong, had this map drawn: the map is included in the collection of the maps Hong Due ban do. On the part of the map reproduced here, we read the following names: Chiem dinh (the Cham dinh), Hoi An kho (Hoi An stockyard), Hoi An dam (Hoi An pond), and Quan bien (maritime relay station). Chiem dinh was the county-seat with the citadel of the dinh of Quang Nam; Hoai An kho was a stockyard surrounded by a dirt wall. Hoi An dam (Hoi An pond) appears on the enlarged part of the map of Thu Bon. Could the name Quan bien, written in nom characters and not in han, be the popular variation of Hai Quan or Hai pho?
4. Hoi An and its environs ill the cadastral register of 1814. In 1814, at the time of the establishment of cadastral registers the village of Hoi An and neighboring villages were part of the canton of Phu Chiem Ha, Dien Khanh district, Dien Ban prefecture, dinh of Quang Nam. The village of Hoi An is surrounded by the following villages:
a) Phu Duy Hoi An village: bordered to the east by the villages of Hoa Pho, Minh Huong, Dong An, and Co Trai; to the west by Cam Pho; to the south by Diem Ho; and to the north by Cam Pho.
b) Minh Huong village (directly dependent on the dinh of Quang Nam) It is bordered to the last of the villages of Hoi An and Co Trai; to the west by Cam Pho; to the south by the Thu Bon River; and to the north by Cam Pho.
c) Village of Dong An
It is bordered to the east by the villages of Diem Ho and Hoi An; to the west by Co Trai and Hoi An; to the south by the Thu Bon River; and to the north by Hoi An.
d) Village of Diem Ho
It is bordered to the east by the village of Hoa Pho; to the west by the village of Dong An; to the south by the Thu Bon River and Hoa Pho; and to the north by Hoi An.
e) Village of De Vong ( dependent of Vong Nhi )
It is bordered to the east by the village of Hoa Pho; to the west by Hoa Pho and An My; to the south by Hoa Pho; and to the north by Hoa Pho and An My.
f) Village of Hoa Pho
It is bordered to the east by the village of Yiem Minh, An My, Thanh Chau, and De Yong; to the west by Cam Pho, Hoi An, and Diem Ho; to the south by Cam Pho; and to the north by Diem Ho.
g) Village of Phu Luy, Cam Pho
It is bordered to the east by the villages of Thanh Ha, An My, Ha Tom, Hoa Pho, Hoi An and Minh Huong; to the west by Thanh Ha, Viem Minh, Hoa Pho, and Ha Tom; to the south by Minh Huong, Hoi An, Hoa Pho and Viem Minh; and to the north by Thanh Ha, Hoa Pho, Ha Tom and Tan An.
h) Village of Thanh Ha: It is bordered to the east by the villages of Cam Pho, Tan An Hoa An, the phuong of Xuan My and the chau of Kim Dong; to the west by Phu Chiem, Lai Nghi, and An Luu; to the south by An My Tan An, and the Tim Bon River; and to the north by Ha Tom and Hoa An. Thanh Ha was the village in Quang Nam which had the most uncultivated lands and hills. Cam Pho, whose name existed at the latest since 1553, sheltered the port city of Hoi An. The villages of Hoi An, Minh Huong, Dong An, Diem Ho and Co Trai, whose cadastre had been lost, were located within the village of Cam Pho. In certain places, a few villages butted up against the village of Thanh Ha. Thus, the territory of Thanh Ha surrounded the old village of Cam Pho, in other words the actual village of Hoi An. It would be difficult to draw up a map showing the overlapping of the 6 villages constituting the ancient port city of Hoi An, to identify Chinese and Japanese trading ports, and to locate the pagodas and the other old temples without studying in-depth the limits and the area of all these villages and of the villages of Tra Nhieu and Kim Bong to the south of the Thu Bon River.
III. Regarding the name "Faifo"
Until today, 4 interpretations exist. Three have been summarized by the researcher Chen Ching Ho: "Two hypotheses exist. The first, presented by A. Chapuis, argues that Faifo came from Hai Pho (Cf. Annamite names, in BAYH, 1942, pp. 55-104). Since we have never seen the term Hai Pho in Vietnamese historical of geographical works, one could think that it was created from imagination. According to the second hypotheses, Faifo would be a deformation of the term Hoi An Pho because Sino-Vietnamese historical and geographic documents have always mentioned this name; in any case, the phonetic mutation of Hoi -An - Pho into Faifo is very natural, and thus the majority of researches have adopted this hypothesis'". Recently, Chau Phi Co (Pseudonym My Xuyen), who is from Hoi An, suggested that Faifo could derive from Hoa Pho (port-city of the Hoa); he offers the following evidence: first, Hoa Pho had also been a commercial centre; a few years ago, two large masts belonging to commercial Chinese junks were found there. One humble opinion is that this hypothesis is not impossible, but that the second is more logical if one respects the viewpoint of phonetic mutation."
The fourth interpretation was presented by the researcher Phan Khoang: "According to one hypothesis, the Thu Bon River was also called Hoai Giang (Hoai river), from which the old name of Hoi An was Hoai Pho or port city on the Hoai. According to a customary law of phonetic mutation, there was a transposition of the consonants f, v, n, w, b, p, m, and ph - the Chinese pronounce tap hoa: chap pho; hoa (dau) co: pho ky - from which, hence, Hoai Pho became Phai Pho? To sum up, according to the four interpretations, Faifo could come from:
a) Hai Pho (according to Chapuis)
b) Hoi An Pho (according to Chen Ching Ho)
c) Hoa Pho (according to Chau Phi Co)
d) Hoai Pho (according to Phan Khoang).
Aside from the names Hoi An Pho, Hoa Pho and Hoai Pho found in our old historical and geographical documents, we are looking for when the word Faifo appeared in Romanized script, and if its spelling has remained constant. In a letter-report from Father Louis Gaspar on the Cochinchina Mission, written in 1621 and published in 1628!9, two different spellings appear for what is assumed to be the same word: Facfo (p.127) and Faifo (p.129). Cadiere explains that "either the transcriber or typist made an error, that Facfo is actually Faifo.
Borri, a contemporary of Gaspar, wrote travel accounts (published in 1631), some of which are reminiscent of the letter mentioned above; the spelling Faifo appears several times. Since this date, the name is inaccurately transcribed with several variations:
- Pieter Goos' map in 1666: Fayfoo
- Robert's map in 1717: Faiso
- Pavie's map in 1903: Fai Fo
- Caillard's map in 1929: Faifoo, etc.
All the official maps of the French Indochinese administration write: Faifo. The word Hai Pho, which, according to Chen Ching Ho, did not appear in any Chinese or Vietnamese historical and geographical document, is found nevertheless on maps drawn up by competent authors:
- Alexandre de Rhodes' map of Annam, including Tonkin and Cochinchina, (printed in 1651), places the name Haifo near Dinhciam.
-On the La Harpe map in Lich su du ky (Accounts of Historical Voyages, printed in the 18th century), the spelling is Haiso. Perhaps La Harpe borrowed it from de Rhodes but confused from with s (at the time, these two characters were written the same way). Let us remember that Bui The Dat's map (1774) inscribed the name Quan bien in the same place as Hoi An; would there be a place between Hai Pho and this Hai quan = Quail bien? Let us note that the word Faifo was phonetically Romanized at a time when quoc ngu was still hesitatingly being developed. In 1651, Alexandre de Rhodes' Latin - Vietnamese - Portuguese dictionary illustrates the relative stability of quoc ngu. One can assume that de Rhodes would have transcribed the word Faifo in a more exact manner than those missionaries who came to Hoi An before him and who were less well-versed in quoc ngu. Once the habit was born, it would be difficult to unite Haifo instead of Faifo.
We can thus provisionally conclude that
- the term Faifo appeared first as a derivative of Haifa, but was deformed phonetically by the Chinese or Westerners of the time.
- Haifa would have derived from Hai Pho or Hoai Pho
- Hoi An Pho was called Faifo by foreigners, both names being so popular that they were interchangeable, especially during the colonial period. We believe that the hypothesis attributing the etymology of Faifo to Hoi An Pho or Hoa Pho is highly debatable.