Communal house in Tan Dan

15:19, 30/03/2020

Left behind the hustle of daily life to look for something serene, I visited ancient communal houses in Tan Dan commune (Khoai Chau district).  As soon as exploring these ancient communal houses aged hundreds of years, I honored these tangible cultural values even more which carried imprints of past generations passed on to the future generations.  

An Dan communal house, Tan Dan commune (Khoai Chau district)
An Dan communal house, Tan Dan commune (Khoai Chau district)


Through many historical fluctuations, all four ancient communal houses named Tho Binh, Binh Dan, An Dan and Duong Trach have preserved its traditional values and customs.  Carrying architectural style of Le and Nguyen dynasty, the communal houses were built based on the themes of production, daily customs and mascots.  Those lively images reflect simple aspiration and dreams of people.


Visiting An Dan communal house and listening to the introduction of its custodian - Mr. Phan Van Dieu, we seemed to go back to the history.  He said that An Dan communal house was built from the beginning of 1909.  It experienced multiple times of restoration but still kept the solid structure and carried the architectural style of Nguyen dynasty with the shape of Chinese character (三)including Great worship, Middle Shrine, Harem.  This communal house was made by ironwood and carved sophisticated patterns with the shape of dragons, longevity character or four-season paintings: Pine-tree, Bamboo, Daisy, Apricot respectively.  


While carrying the carving style of Nguyen dynasty, Tho Binh communal house still has the imprints of Le dynasty.  Through the stories of the elderly in the village, we know that Tho Binh is located on a high, airy ground at the beginning of the village with the North facing the field through which Kim Nguu river flows.  Tho Binh communal house was built with the shape of Chinese character (二) including Great worship and Harem.  Standing at the yard of Communal House, we watch the sophisticated curves and contemplate the ancient Chinese characters, the antithetical couplet tablets as Việt land inscribes the Immortal God’s name/ Nam heaven gives birth of Holy of Longevity.


Visiting these communal houses, you not only contemplate the intricate patterns but also dive into legends and unique meaning of Gods worshiped here.  Four communal houses of Tan Dan commune are worshiping Holy Chu Dong Tu and his 2 wives named Tien Dung princess and Tay Nuong princess as well as other Gods who had great contribution to cultivation, construction of villages and disease treatment to people. 


To remember the merits of the gods, in the past, the village communal houses of Tan Dan commune were built in the prime center location of the village, this is a place for the villagers to gather and organize meetings and community activities as well as deciding important jobs of the village. Since then, the village communal house has become an indispensable place, a strong bond for all people in the village. 


Today, facing multiple worries and hard times, residents of Tan Dan commune still return to the communal houses to enjoy relaxing moments and recall the traditional values of the country.  For many generations, from lunar Feb. 6 to Feb. 8 annually, festivals in the commune are open.   These are the happiest time as people cheer up. Returning to the village festivals, everyone offer incense, preparing traditional offerings to the gods. People come to sacrifice, worshiping at daytime, at night they exchange arts and organize folk games.


Though these communal houses have been permeated imprints of time, every tile rood and beautiful carving patterns are whispering ancient stories. Theses communal houses will be sacred places for countrymen to pray and send wishes to ask for peace, happiness and bumper crops.



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