Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taphophile Tragics: Vietnam

On 11 June 1963, Buddist monk Thich Quang Duc burned himself to death in protest at the persecution of Buddist monks by the South Vietnamese government. Duc's remains which included his intact heart were later re-cremated at a cemetery 16 kms south of the city. According to Wikipedia, Duc's heart remained intact and did not burn leading to the intact heart relic being regarded as a symbol of compassion.

These photos were taken in 2009 when I was visiting Hue's Thien Mu Pagoda where the car in which Thich Quang Duc travelled to his self-immolation is housed. The photo above is from the small photo shown on the rear wall below. Especially the top image when viewed through the camera was a haunting one that stayed vividly with me for days.

For other Taphophile Tragic posts, you might like to visit here.


  1. wow, that is sad...
    i think tibetan monks do this too to protest against china's ruling over them. although it happens quite frequently, it does not get a lot of media coverage...

  2. Wow, you sure bring up some different angles on this theme.

  3. This would haunt me for days, too.

  4. Excellent, and moving, contribution, Rae.

    This is one of three searing images of individual suffering which have stuck in my mind from my teenage years growing up with the Vietnam War increasingly coming to my consciousness. It is different now with the 24/7 news cycle. There is a danger now of becoming inured to individual suffering. Of not seeing trees at all.

    As well as the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc in 1963, there was the napalm bombing of Kim Phuc in 1968, and the summary execution of Nguyen Van Lem in 1972.

    That is either an Austin A30 something or an Austin A40 something. Not bad for a monk in those times. I wonder who drove him, and whether they knew his intent?

    As Joan noted, 'you sure bring different angles', and for this I thank you.

  5. Really interesting post Rae. As CaT said, a lot of the things that go on unreported would be horrifying.

  6. I've never heard the story of Duc's heart. The photographer who photographed the iconic [naked child napalmed and running in tears} came to live in Los Angeles adjacent Montery Park. Thats the image that disturbs me.

    Always happy to see a fellow blogger take a less traditional approach on subject matter. I'd love to have you visit my post (but if you link back) you'll discover our less deadly form of protest