The legendary market of the dead at Xuan O Village in the northern province of Bac Ninh will be resumed after a long break on February 17 and 18 (4th and 5th of the first lunar month) next year as a result of cooperation between local authorities and the Research Institute of Viet Nam Culture and Arts.
Known in the folk belief as the Yin-Yang Market, the market used to be organised once a year at O Village, now known as Xuan O Village , Bac Ninh City , where living people can have a unique chance to meet the dead.
The market takes place at sunset on the 4th of the first lunar month, when it turns to dark, yang gives way to yin and heaven meets the earth. It ends before dawn. The people gather at a big yard by an ancient banyan tree next to the village’s cemetery.
The main goods exchanged at the market are black cocks, fake money, incense, betel and areca nuts.
According to the institute’s researchers, the market, as legend said, used to be organised in a vacant yard, under no roof. People used no light sources so that both buyers and sellers could not see one another. They exchanged in silence, almost talked nothing.
Because the market is joined by dead souls who flocked to buy things and exchange sorrows for happiness, participants didn’t talk and laugh loudly for fear that the souls would be scared, nor set any light as the black cocks might crow and turn the souls away.
At the entrance of the market, there was a basin of water for the market attendants to check whether money they received for the dead was real or fake.
"The market started following the fierce war between Trung Sisters’ troops and Chinese Han invaders that took place here around 40 AD," said Nguyen Thanh Tuy, 74, who is the head of the village history-studying board, "After the battle, families of soldiers killed at the battle came here to search for the souls of the dead. They bought worshipping things here."
Gradually, the Yin Yang Market came into being, an event that has been featured in paintings, literature and cinema, he said. Yet the market has not recently taken place.
In 2007, village head Nguyen Khac Vuong, wrote to local authorities to propose the re-opening of the market and it looks as though the event will take place in 2010.
To locals, the market was similar to a harvest festival in other localities. People flocked to the market just to wish for a lucky new year and sing local quan ho (love duets) melodies.
The organising board has drafted a scenario for the market suitable to the tradition.
Interested people may visit the website www.choamduong.com for further information./.