The Wife Rock

The story of Hòn Vọng Phu, a wife who turns into stone waiting for her husband’s return, shapes and is shaped by the physical terrains of Vietnam and its people’s artistic expressions. In all four provinces, from central highland Vietnam to its northern border with China, stands a wife rock atop a mountain cradling a child waiting for her husband’s return; some folks say that he has gone fishing in the South China Sea, others that he has gone off to war. Classified sometimes as a folktale, fairy tale or legend, the story has been retold through numerous genres and media—poetry, short fiction, novel, song, painting, and film. Why is Hòn Vọng Phu so prevalent in the imagination of the Vietnamese?