Setting: French occupation, Nguyen dynasty Vietnam mid 19thc - early 20thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* SarDesai 1997 p188
"Opposition to French rule began almost as soon as they had occupied Cochin China in 1862. It was led by all types of people, including peasants and fishermen, who were not prepared to abandon their time-honored culture for that of people separated from them 'by thousands of mountains and seas.' The resistance movement grew to revolutionary proportions after the French conquest of Annam in 1885. The so-called pacification program, like its British counterpart in Myanmar, was most intense until 1895, but it extended in Vietnam to 1913. In a particularly vicious campaign from 1909 to 1913, the French hounded the resistance leaders and murdered them one by one. The The peasantry harbored and supported the leaders of the resistance movement, known as Can Vuong (aid the king), which included the scholar-gentry, the Vietnamese mandarin class. In the decades before 1900, the mandarins appeared to believe that the French occupation of their lands might spell loss of political control but not a cultural or spiritual loss. By 1900, however, a new generation of maturing mandarins grew apprehensive that the educational and cultural impact of French culture had become pervasive. They were haunted by the image of mat nuoc (losing one's country), not merely in political terms but more seriously in the sense of their future survival as Vietnamese. Mandarins thus fell into three groups: those who withdrew to the villages in a sort of passive noncooperation, and those who struggled desperately through participation in the resistance movement to bring new meaning and ethnic salvation (cuu nuoc) to the populace."
* Rodell online
"In the early nineteenth century another foreign influence affected Vietnamese dao - France. After the French bankrolled the establishment of the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, lion-head pommels began appearing. These sabers are essentially European in design, with 'D' shaded [SIC] knucklebows. This French pattern is overlaid and decorated in the local Vietnamese fashion, usually with embossed silver fittings on the scabbard and hilt and mother of pearl inlay in lacquer or rose wood scabbards. Other examples have plain tortoise shell covered scabbards. This style of saber has a scabbard chape with an usually sharp upward accelerating curve terminating in a sharp end. This is quite different from sabers of European design which tend to have chapes with rounded ends. This pointed chape is most likely a hold-over from Ming Chinese influences."