Communal house needs master plan of conservation: culture deputy minister

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A communal house on the western outskirts of Hanoi is in serious need for preservation to protect its history and architecture, deputy culture minister Trinh Thi Thuy said.

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All welcome: The festival gathers various beliefs including Taoism, Buddhism and Mother Goddess. 

She was speaking at a ceremony hosted by Bac Tu Liem District to name Chem Communal House a Special National Relic Site.

“With its unique layout and history, the architecture cannot be found in other communal houses and temples in the region,” she added.

Chem Communal House was built around 1,200 years ago, making it one of the oldest buildings in Vietnam.

The house is dedicated to Thuong Dang Thien Vuong Ly Ong Trong who served under King Hung Due Vuong (the last branch of the Hong Bang dynasty -- 408 to 258 BC), and An Duong Vuong, who ruled over the kingdom of Au Lac (now Vietnam) from 257 to 207 BC.

Stories of Trong can be found in ancient books, including Linh Nam Trich Quai (Selection of Strange Tales in Linh Nam), Viet Dien U Linh (Collection of Stories on the Shady and Spiritual World of the Viet Realm) and Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu (Complete Annals of Dai Viet).

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Ancient: Chem Communal House was built around 1,200 years ago, which makes it one of the oldest buildings in Vietnam. 

The communal house has been a spiritual meeting place over the centuries on the banks of the Hong (Red) River, and residents of Thuy Phuong Commune now worship there.

According to Do Manh Tuan, chairman of the district People’s Committee, there are 135 relic sites in the area.

“Chem Communal House has the most notable architecture and carvings,” he said.

“It features the most delicate carving skills within its design,” commented researcher Nguyen Thanh Vu from the culture ministry. “The communal house has been a valuable source for anyone who wants to study the history, culture and customs of the ancient land to the west of Thang Long Citadel.”

The house is still home to 16 books written in the Han Chinese script, three royal decrees issued by Nguyen kings, four ancient stone steles, 10 statues, dozens of horizontal lacquered boards and parallel sentences, two bronze bells and other valuable objects.

There is also an incense burner that dates back thousands of years and bronze rain gutters made during King Le Hien Tong’s reign (1740-1786).

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Pilgrimage: Thousands of people flock to the festival every year.

“I’ve instructed authorities to draft a plan to preserve the house,” said deputy culture minister Thuy. “The management board needs to install a fence around the site prevent neighbours from encroaching on it. It also needs to protect the ancient objects housed at the site and use financial contributions from individuals and agencies to repair the house.”

Run by community

The Chem Communal House festival is among the most ancient customs in the capital, and is held in middle of the 5th lunar month.

The festival attracts various beliefs including Taoism, Buddhism and Mother Goddess.

“The festival should be managed by the local community, and local authorities should ensure security and safety for the event,” Thuy said. 

Source: VietNamNet

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