Update: 10:07 | 08/05/2020
(BGO) - In the early summer heat, I visited Tho Ha village, Van Ha commune (Viet Yen district, Bac Giang province) to contemplate the unique and poetic beauty of a land rich in cultural traditions.
Meeting with Tho Ha villagers, I heard that since they were born, they have identified themselves with boats and the Cau River. The water source of the Cau River has been running in the mind of generations here.
Performing classical ‘tuong’(traditional opera) at the Tho Ha communal house yard.
Formed long ago, the small village has experienced many ups and downs. Now, Tho Ha villagers still preserve the physique of an ancient village with many interesting things.
Tho Ha village is located in the middle of a rich plain which is home to skillful people and ancient ‘quan ho’ (love duet) songs. There was a time when Tho Ha villagers got rich by making traditional pottery products. At that time, pottery not only served as a livelihood for local people but also turned this place into a bustling trading area.
For Tho Ha people, when born, their parents cut the navel cord, put it into a pot and bury it outside the gate. Then they bathe in a glazed terra-cotta basin, and eat rice bowls or salted egg-shaped fruits when they grow up. All are ceramic items made by villagers. Until they die, they are also put in an earthenware container of the ceramic village.
It can be said that Tho Ha pottery has gone deep into the daily life of local people, especially farmers. All household utensils are made from pottery. Thanks to pottery, the life of villagers is better than those in other places. The prosperity of pottery has helped the village to have a majestic architectural complex.
The Tho Ha village gate is located at the beginning of the village, in front of the communal house, and next to the hundred-year-old banyan tree. It bears the typical features of the traditional culture of the Northern Delta - a harmony between nature and architectural works.
The Tho Ha communal house was built in 1685, under the reign of King Le Hy Tong. This is a large-scale architecture covering a big area, including three buildings: Tien te (the front ceremonial hall), Dai dinh (the grand ceremonial hall) and hau cung (the rear sanctuary) with quite unique sculptures.
The communal house worships the tutelary god and pottery initiator Dao Tri Tien. Currently, the communal house still keeps many steles along with the ancient bibliographies. In 1962, it was classified as a national architectural and artistic relic site.
Tho Ha communal house is both a unique architecture and a testament to the prosperity of ancient Tho Ha village. Going through harsh weather conditions and time, the structure still stands firm there.
Dai dinh is typical for the sculpture of the post-Le period. The decoration of the communal house is characterized by strong features with high floating blocks with the contrast between floating and sinking parts, reflecting the skillful level of the carving technique of the ancient artisans. The Tho Ha communal house and Tho Ha pagoda have formed a complex of valuable relic sites on this cultural land.
Experiencing the changes of the times, pottery gradually faded, only in the memories of old workers. If previous generations enriched themselves with pottery, today Tho Ha people become rich by making rice papers. Up to 70 percent of the villagers live on this craft.
They are busy all year round by the fire with a white flour pot to create rice papers that are used to make spring rolls - an indispensable dish in Tet (Lunar New Year) meals of Vietnamese.
Crackling sounds emanating from sheets where rice papers are put under sunlight have become familiar to the children in the village. The craft has nurtured people and people attach to the craft. The Tho Ha rice papers are brought to every corner of the country.
It is a product made from rice and skillful hands of the industrious people. The rice papers follow residents to the market and immerse themselves in a rural space that cannot be seen everywhere.
Coming to Tho Ha, tourists are charmed with the beautiful village scenery and have a chance to hear the romantic ‘quan ho’ sentences. Once visiting the village, everyone wants to return.
Ngo Van Hung