Chang’an News from Vietnam

I came across a Vietnamese newspaper from the late 1930s-early 1940s called the “Tràng An Báo.” This name is interesting.

“Tràng An” is usually written now as “Trường An” and comes from “Chang’an” 長安, the name of the Han Dynasty capital, a city that continued to serve as the capital of various other Chinese dynasties, including the Tang.

Perhaps because the city served so long as an imperial capital, its name eventually became synonymous with the word “capital” and one can find it in Chinese writings where its use does not literally mean “Chang’an” but simply “the capital.”

It is undoubtedly in this sense that the name was chosen for this newspaper. “Tràng An Báo” can thus be translated as “Capital News” or the “Capital Newspaper.”

What is interesting, however, is to think about how different Vietnam is today. I cannot imagine anyone in Vietnam today naming anything “Tràng An,” except perhaps a Chinese restaurant. . . Times have changed.

2 thoughts on “Chang’an News from Vietnam

  1. You can still see this couplet being used quite frequently nowadays:

    Chẳng thơm cũng thể hoa nhài
    Dẫu không thanh lịch cũng người Tràng An

    It seems to me that the proud Hanoians love to use this couplet to prove their “elegance”, and the rest of the country like to use it to make fun of them for being the opposite!

    1. Someone on Facebook mentioned that Trang An is used a lot in Nguyen Dynasty poetry. I’m not sure if it was common before that point to use Trang An to refer to Hanoi, or if it is a literary practice that became popular during the Nguyen. Whatever the case may be, Nguyen poets liked to use the term to prove the elegance of themselves and their capital – Hue. 🙂

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