Vietnam's Plow, Asian Water Buffalo: 100 Dong (South Vietnam, 1972)-Article

Updated: Apr 8

This South Vietnamese banknote represents the 2nd denomination of the final “Southern Dồng” Series (1972). The 1972 Series Dồng served as the final currency of the Republic of (South) Vietnam. The reverse art of this banknote series, features detailed illustrations of South Vietnam's wildlife. The note's were produced by world renown British printer, De La Rue London.

The “Southern Dồng” was replaced by the Việt Cộng issued "Southern Liberation" Dồng, in 1975. These transitional notes were issued during the phase of the Vietnam War (1973-1975). The “Southern Liberation" was the de-facto currency of South Vietnam. Until the merging of both North and South Vietnamese currencies, in 1978. (This note will be reviewed reverse first)


The reverse features a beautiful illustration (main art) of a villager guiding a pair of Asian Water Buffalo. To the right the buffalos, is the note's watermark area. Small vertical lines can seen extending from the watermark area toward the background of the main art. These lines seamlessly transition from light green to a "sand" color shade. Further right is the negative, for multicolor light puzzle/registration element.

It appears the peanut-shaped main art area is part of the note blank. This hypothesis is supported by the fact all denomination of the 1972 Series are color coded. In addition to being color coded, all denomination feature a unique underprint. This particular denomination features buffalo outlines, refencing the main art. Color coding and stylized underprints were a hallmark of De La Rue notes of the period.

There is Vietnamese text above and to the lower right, of the main art. The header translates to the "State Bank of Vietnam". The lower right text translates to "One Hundred Dồng". As supported by the "100" located on the lower left and upper right. While the subtext below threatens counterfeiters with "penal servitude", for copying and distributing counterfeit banknotes.

The upper right "100" is overprinted the beforementioned multicolor registration element. While the number "100" at the lower left is overprinted over a bundle of guilloché patterns. A row of 7 lines can be originating from the bundle. They runs upward, folding once, running along the main art area, and ending at the upper text.

Full Translation

State Bank of Vietnam
Penal servitude for people who counterfeit banknotes, from the distributions of the State Bank of Vietnam.
One Hundred Dồng


The observe depicts the Palace of Independence, the residence of the President of South Vietnam. The site serves as a landmark for the end of the Vietnam War (1955-1975). After a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) tank crash though the main gate, on the 30 April 1975. The text resembles that of the reverse, featuring "State Bank of Vietnam" and "One Hundred Dồng". To the left of the "Palace of Independence" is the watermark area.

Similar to the reverse, the observe features a framing of guilloché patterns. These patterns feature rows of flowing and folding lines. The row originating from the lower left number "100" features 8 lines. While lines on the right side are more tightly bound, joining the lower and upper right number "100"s. Notably the "Palace of Independence" is overprinted above the beforementioned patterns. With the exception of a some faint braided lines, joining the lower left and right corners. The underprint is abstract pattern, resembling a type of plant.

Typical of De La Rue notes, the observe features dual serial numbers. These serial numbers are located above and to the lower left of the "Palace of Independence". Both serial numbers read "402814", although the upper number features the batch number (A55).

The Asian Water Buffalo

The Asian Water Buffalo is economically and culturally significant in Southeast Asia. Particularly amongst rural farmers, often forming their most prized procession. Providing their owners with a source of heavy labor, fuel, and renewable food. Through their rich milk, which is processed into useful dairy products. Historically consumption of their meat was rare, often reserved for religious festivals.

Asian Water Buffalo is divided into distinct River and Swamp types. With each type domesticated independently, at different times and regions. The River Buffalo is believed to been domesticated in Western India 4,300 BCE. While the domestication Swamp Buffalo is more uncertain, Although is believe to have happened within Southeast Asia, sometime between 5,000-1,000 BCE.

The 2 water buffalo types differ in appearance and behavior. River Buffalo are black to dark slate in color, with long faces/legs, and upward curving horns. While Swamp Buffalo are gray to bluish gray, with swept back horns, wider faces, stocky legs, and large bellies. Their natural habit to wallow in mud better suits them for rice planting. As opposed to the larger and taller River Buffalo, who make better pack animals.

The smaller Swamp Buffalo is often considered the more manageable of the 2 types. To the extent children in Southeast Asia are capable of rending them in rice paddies. Children are often first trained with younger animals, which helps create better bonding. Similar to the family structure of Southeast Asia villages, buffalos are often bred amongst neighbors.

Both River and Swamp Buffalo dung is utilized as a natural fertilizer. It plays a particularly important role in rice farming. As buffalo dung adds vital nutrients to the soil, through its rich diet of aquatic plants. This diet it useful when clearing wetlands for rice cultivation, as its within buffalo's nature.

Notably Water Buffalo are also capable of consuming dry and non-aquatic plants. Buffalos used for dairy are often fed green fodders. Which includes fodders rich in sugars, which helps produce more disable milk. While recycling left over by-products, such as banana peels and sugar cane waste. Thus helping minimize local waste and in neighboring areas.

Water Buffalo have also been recently suggested to clear areas of evasive and overgrown aquatic plants. By using Water Buffalo in controlled grazes, to provided space for beneficial plant and wildlife. Thus providing a natural means of environmental conservation and restoration.

“Southern Dồng” (1972) Gallery

(Gallery will be updated, as new banknotes are databased)


Additional Notes

  • The note's dimensions are 146 mm x 73 mm or 5.75 in x 2.87 in, wider than a US Dollar.

  • This banknote is wider and shorter, than a standard US Dollar (6.14 x 2.61 in)

  • It's highly recommended to use large protective sleeves, when preserving this note.

  • Standard size (top-opening) protective sleeves will leave a small area uncovered.

  • In November 1975, the "Palace of Independence" was renamed "Reunification Hall".

  • USIA is a defunct US Government agency, its 1999 website has been achieved for posterity.

Photo Credits

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