Ancient Written Vietnamese Language, KHOA ĐẨU, Existed 4,000 Years Ago

Commentary: It has been a long belief that Vietnamese people did not possess a written language system before the colonization by Chinese for more than 1,000 years. After the the gain of the independence from China in the 10th century, subsequent Vietnamese dynasties kept using the Chinese written language as they had the respect for the Chinese civilization. Chinese calligraphy was highly regarded as the Europeans used to value Latin even though Vietnamese people had their own writing, chữ Nôm, was recorded its use in the 13th century.

It was mainly used by common people while the ruling class was using the classic Chinese script. Vietnamese script was alphabetized into the current Vietnamese written language, Quốc Ngữ, which was invented by a missonary Alexandre de Rhodes in the 17th century. The popular acceptance of the new written system gained traction quickly during the absolute French rule from 1883-1945 because it is much easier to learn and master.

It is very an amazing and precious finding that  Đỗ Văn Xuyền spent 50 years to find the lost written language at the period of the founding dynasty of Vietnam, formerly known as  Văn Lang, founded in 2879 BC and existing until 258 BC. Ancient Vietnamese script KHOA ĐẨU proves Vietnamese civilization has fully developped for more than 4,000 years.

Map of Van Lang in 500 BC

Map of Van Lang in 500 BC


Ancient Vietnamese script KHOA ĐẨU, lost more than 2,000 years ago.

Reseacher Đỗ Văn Xuyền

Reseacher Đỗ Văn Xuyền

On January 29, researcher Do Van Xuyen launched the book “A journey to find Ancient Vietnamese writing” in Hanoi and talked with other researchers of ancient Vietnamese writing.

The modern Vietnamese scripts (left) and the ancient Vietnamese scripts.

The modern Vietnamese scripts (left) and the ancient Vietnamese scripts.

In “A journey to find Ancient Vietnamese writing,” author Do Van Xuyen attempts to decode an ancient Vietnamese writing system – the writing of a brilliant civilization from the dynasty of the Hung Kings who built up the Van Lang Country.

The book, consisting 120 pages, proved that the Vietnamese had a writing system from the Hung Kings period. He also pointed out the educational map in this period, the list of teachers in Hung King dynasty, some ancient Vietnamese books stored at Son La Museum and other objects kept throughout the world, like the Bronze drum of Vietnam formally displayed at the Museum of Paris (France).

On the basis of scientific criteria, Xuyen has demonstrated that there were no accents in this ancient Vietnamese writing system. He said that for thousands of years, domestic and foreign scientists confirmed that Vietnamese writing appeared very early.

The book marks 50 years of perseverance and persistence, with a pure heart and a deep love for the country of the senior researcher.


He has gone to the end of the journey to find the ancient Vietnamese writing with his own direction: coming back to the people. Because he is aware of the important role of the people in the storage and preservation of historical monuments which helped him fulfill the research work.

In 50 years of the arduous journey, he was not afraid to go to the remote and mountainous areas to find the “strange” writing. He wants to declare to the world that the Vietnamese have their own writing, Khoa Dau, which was created from prehistoric times and has been lost for the past 2,000 years.

Now the researcher only uses the ancient Vietnamese script in writing.

Ancient Vietnamese words are also called Khoa Dau words. The writing of the Hung Dynasty, shaped like tadpoles, were confirmed by many domestic and foreign researchers, such as Professor Ha Van Tan, Professor Buu Cam and Professor Do Quang Vinh, but no one had been able to decode the ancient Vietnamese text since the uprising of Hai Ba Trung.

However, no one has deciphered the ancient Vietnamese words, which has been lost since the revolt of Hai Ba Trung.


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