The 3 Kitchen Gods

In Vietnamese folklore, the Kitchen Gods (Vietnamese: Táo Quân) are spirits that inhabit the kitchen of every home. They are responsible for monitoring the daily affairs of the kitchen, until the last day of the lunar year in which they then travel to Heaven to give the Jade Emperor an annual report. There are three Kitchen Gods: Trọng Cao, Thị Nhi, and Phạm Lang. Originally normal people, the three became kitchen spirits by the magic of the Jade Emperor after hearing their tragic tale. In old Vietnamese kitchens, the traditional clay stove pot is supported by three posts, which represent the three Kitchen Gods.


Trọng Cao and Thị Nhi were husband and wife. One day they quarreled, and Trọng Cao threw his wife out of the house. Thị Nhi still loved her husband but had no choice but to obey. She set off on a journey and eventually found a nice man, Phạm Lang, and they eventually married. Trọng Cao was filled with remorse, waited for his wife's return, until he could wait no more. He set out in search for her, but eventually ran out of food. He had to beg for food. One day he knocked on a door, and found, to his surprise, his (former) wife. Remembering her love for her first husband and moved by his presence, she invited him inside and fed him. Phạm Lang was then heard coming home. Thị Nhi could not be seen with another man inside the house, so she had Trọng Cao hide in a straw of hay. Phạm Lang lit the hay on fire in order to create fertilizer. Trọng Cao dared not move so that he may preserve his wife's virtue, and so accepted his fate. Thị Nhi could not save her first husband, and did not want to tell the truth, lest she be branded an infidel, and so she jumped into the fire. Phạm Lang, unable to comprehend why his wife jumped in the fire, decided to jump into the fire with her. The Jade Emperor heard this tale, and was moved, and so used his power to bind the three souls to become the spirits of the kitchen.

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