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Tan Vien Son Thanh : The Mountain God


At a glance

Origin Vietnamese Mythology
Classification Demigods
Family Members Nguyenc Hoa (Wife)
Region Vietnam
Associated With Business, Martial Arts

Than Vien Son Thanh


One of the Four Immortals of Vietnamese mythology is Tan Vien Son Thanh, also known as Son Tinh. He is regarded as the god of the mountain range Ba Vi, and he is one of the figures in the romance of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh, who is referred to as the God of the Water and the Mountain. Most temples in the Vietnam area are dedicated to him.

At first, Tan Vien was a mountain god who was worshipped to protect the people. By the time of the Van Lang State, he had become the most popular deity in the region. He was also revered by the people in the Kinh and Muong villages in Son Tay, Phu Tho, and Vinh Phuc. In the Dai Viet period, Tan Vien Son Than’s merits and virtues were further enhanced so that he became more and more human and more holy, becoming one of the “Four Immortals” of the Vietnamese people, including Chu Dong Tu, Thanh Giong and Mother Lieu Hanh.

Physical Traits

Tan Vien Son Thanh is always depicted as a wise individual who was physically strong as well.


According to legend, his brothers and uncles were the Supreme Spirit Gods of the people and there are four shrines dedicated to him in these areas. Based on folk tales about Thuy Tinh and Son Tinh, combined with the stone of Lang Xuon temple, people believed that Tan Vien was the eldest son of a couple from Yen Luong commune in the district of Phu Tho. 

After her husband suspected her of being an accomplice to an illicit affair, the lady left to seek refuge at the Da River. Upon reaching Trung Nghia’s village, she gave birth to a boy named Tan Vien. Ma Thi Cao adopted Tan Vien Son Thanh from the mountain of Ngoc Tan and he was then sent to study at Tan Vien mountain.

After a long and distinguished life, he returned to Tan mountain and lived with his wife, Princess Nguyenc Hoa. There are still many shrines and temples dedicated to various generals who performed noteworthy deeds during the war between the Thuc and Hung dynasties, mostly located in Vinh Phuoc, Ha Tay, and Phu Tho.

The people prayed to Tan Vien for guidance and protection. He was shown to be a wise and carefree individual who did not care about fame. He was regarded as a Saint by the people and ascended to the throne above the king.

Other names

Tan Vien Son Thanh is believed to have been born named Nguyen Tuan and is also popularly known as Son Tinh.

Powers and Abilities

According to legend, Nguyen Tuan or Tan Vien Son Thanh was taught how to perform martial arts by a fairy from the Upper Realm, who was located in Tan mountain. Through this teacher, he became a skilled martial artist. Before going back to heaven, the Ong Fairy gave Nguyen Tuan a magic stick with the heads of death and birth.

The birth head can be used to heal people or things and when pointed, it will immediately bring back the person or thing to life. On the other hand, the head of death can kill or destroy mountains, citadels, and even living people.

Modern Day Influence

People still hold festivals to imitate the ways of doing business that were taught by Son Tinh. They also express gratitude for his teachings, and he is regarded as a saint for uplifting the lives of people. Duc Tan Vien was ordained by many kings to show respect and honor.

The people have reverenced the generous spirit of Duc Tan Vien Son and have written numerous works about him. Some of these are “Viet Dien U Linh”, “Linh Nam Chich Quai,” and “Thanh Tong Di Ky Toan Thu”.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the mountain god of Tan Vien?

Tản Viên Sơn Thánh, also known as Sơn Tinh, is the mountain god of Tan Vien. He is one of The Four Immortals in traditional Vietnamese mythology.

What are the mountain gods?

Mountain gods are tutelary deities associated with mountains. They are well-known in Asia, especially in Korea and China, where some prominent mountains have shrines dedicated to similar deities in the Daoist traditions, called Shanshen.

Are there any other mountain gods in Vietnamese mythology?

Yes, there are other mountain deities in Vietnamese mythology. Thần Cao Sơn and Thần Quý Minh are also gods of the Ba Vì mountain range. Bà Chúa Xứ is the goddess of Sam Mountain. Bà Đen is the goddess of Black Virgin Mountain. Bà Rá is the goddess of Bà Rá Mountain.


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