Located beside the Day River, Dich Vi, now called Dich Dinh, in Hanoi’s Dan Phuong district, has a custom of worshipping a stone dog.
The locals call it Mr. Great Yellow Stone. The fourth son of King Ly Thanh Tong and Mr. Great Yellow Stone are worshipped in the village’s communal house.
Legend has it that in the old days there were two brothers who lived by the mouth of the Hat River. The older brother was Ngoc Tri and the younger brother was Hoang Thach.
The older brother went to war and entrusted the younger brother with taking care of the house, fields, and gardens. After defeating the enemy and returning home, the older brother found his wife pregnant and suspected his younger brother of having illicit relations with his wife. He killed his younger brother and swore “What a dog”! When the wife gave birth to a monster, the young brother was vindicated.
The injustice of his murder turned the younger brother’s body into a stone dog in the nearby river. Villagers fished the stone dog out of the river and have been worshipping it ever since. They believed the transformed younger brother, together with other genies, has protected the village and its people and given them a prosperous life.
Nguyen Chi Cuong, the caretaker of the relic site, said, “Mr. Great Yellow Stone is worshipped respectfully. During the feudal period, everybody took off their hats to him when they passed by. He is very miraculous. If a family in the village lost something valuable and asked him to help, they could find the lost item. If a local couple were having an argument, they could reach conciliation after praying for help from the stone dog.”
There is a 10-square-meter altar for worshipping a group of stone dogs on a small hill at the beginning of the village next to an ancient pagoda. A dog about 1 meter high sits in the middle, surrounded by smaller dogs. All of them look northwest towards the mouth of the Hat River, between Ba Vi and Tam Dao Mountain.
Village elders say that for generations, villagers have resolved their differences under the guidance of Mr. Great Yellow Stone.
Cao Thi Hoi, a Dich Vi villager, said the stone dog is an indispensable element of their spiritual life: “On the first and the fifteenth day of each lunar month, villagers go to the communal house to burn incense and pray for help from Mr. Great Yellow Stone. Families whose children are about to take an exam make offerings to him to win his support. Anyone who has problems can kowtow to him to ask for a resolution.”