Hung Lo Ancient Village Relic Complex – A spiritual rest in the Ancestral Land
- Geological location
Hung Lo Ancient Village is located on the poetic Lo River, about 5km from the center of Viet Tri City. The Hung Lo Communal House (Xom Communal House) historical and cultural relic complex was constructed in a 5000 m2 land strip. It is the center of the ancient Kha Lam Hacienda, which was once called An Lao commune and now is Hung Lo commune.
- The communal house-temple-pagoda complex of Hung Lo
The construction time of the temple (the ancient temple of the 18th Hung King) is still unknown. According to the book “An Lao Than Tich” (The Myth of An Lao) and some legend, “Hung King and the princess often went out for field trips and hunting on horses with the courtiers. When taking a rest in Kha Lam Hacienda (the ancient name of Hung Lo), the King saw that it was a rich land with lots of trees growing green and especially he saw an ancient grave with sacred energy rising from the underground. He considered it a holy land” and called on people to come for reclamation. The land of Hung Lo has also been growing since then. After the reign of Hung King, the local people built a temple to worship and pay tribute to the ancestors. Henceforth, the people in the hamlet have prospered and the temple became more and more sacred.
Hung King Temple in the Village
Legend also has it that, during the revolt of Hai Ba Trung against the Northern invaders, when marching across this area, Hai Ba Trung got of their elephant to come and offer incense in the temple to pray for victory with a promise to come back and embellish the temple after defeating the enemy.
These two tales are recorded in the two pillars in front of the temple…
Hung Lo communal house was built in Later Le Dynasty, under the reign of Emperor Le Hy Ton. The communal house consists of the constructions of the Great Hall (Dai dinh), the Middle Hall (Phuong dinh), the bell tower, the drum tower and the Front Ceremonial Hall (Nha tien te), all made of precious wood such as first quality wood (Markhamia stipulata Seem.), ironwood, mukulungu, apitong, pinaceae or jack tree with shoe-tip shape tile roofing. The values of high-end sculptural art typical for the Later Le period on wood and ceramics were placed mainly in the Great Hall.
The design of the Great Hall is similar to a traditional Vietnamese house with 3 compartments and 2 wings. In terms of worshiping, the worship interior facilities are available in all of the 3 compartments. The worship items are made of ceramic, bronze, and wood and are all exquisitely crafted with fine and harmonious patterns. Presently, there are many valuable artifacts retained here.
It can be said that the communal house of Hung Lo is a museum of art and culture contributed by people which remains intact today.
The Great Hall in Hung Lo
The temple of literature is the worship place of the great teacher Confucius. At this place, during holidays, especially in the early days of spring, many teachers bring their students here to offer incense to wish for academic success.
The Buddhist temple was built to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Buddhists within the commune as well as of visitors. The Buddhist temple or pagoda is on the left of the communal house and was built few decades ago.
The Shrine of the Divine Farmer is an open-air altar left from the past. Villagers often hold annual ceremonies on the 25th of May and the 25th of October in lunar calendar which are called Thuong Dien (the field closing ceremony) and Ha Dien (the field opening ceremony) for the purpose of wishing for favourable weather conditions, bumper crops and prosperity.
Currenly, Hung Lo commune also retains nearly 50 ancient houses from 100 to 200 years old in which there are 5 houses of very large size with many compartments and big wooden pillars. These old houses are all engraved with symbols such as Dragon, Quilin, Turtle and Phoenix or Pine, Chrysanthemum, Bamboo and Plum Blossom. The main materials of these ancient house are mostly wood, bamboo, etc. These materials are all available in the nature and are very close to the life of Vietnamese people. These houses are presently being used by local people and are frequently embellished for preservation purpose. Therefore, each of the ancient houses in Hung Lo are maintained not only in terms of architecture but also as one part of the spiritual life of family living in it.
The typical door sill and porch of an ancient house
The sophisticated engraved patterns and details
The sophisticated engraved patterns and details
3. The notable landscapes
+ The village pond complex: There are 3 ponds in the village, of which the primary pond is located in front of the communal house. Taking the communal house and the primary pond as the center, local people live and spread out from it.
+ The bamboo: The village bamboo fence is the “administrative border” of a hamlet or a village within a commune, inside the fence, there are households living together. Outside the fence is the field on which rice, maize, potato or cassava are cultivated.
+ The well: The village possesses 4 common well: the Doan Ket hamlet well, the Van Chi hamlet well, the Thanh Rong hamlet well (or the dragon tooth well) and Gie hamlet well.
+ Hung Lo Craft Village: Due to the small area of agricultural land, the villagers had to develop their crafts in order to improve the economic situation. Therefore, from a very old time, Hung Lo was a famous land for it wide range of crafts such as the Chung cake and Giay cake making, tofu making, rice vermicelli or rice noodles making. The elders of the village often say that they are living in a “multi-craft” village. Presently, these traditional craft villages are still being maintained and developed by local people. In the rice noodles village, with the heirloom secrets, Hung Lo village people have created white and tough noodles which are not broken while cooking. These noodles are favoured by many people; therefore, the trade name of Hung Lo has been established on the market. The Chung cake making profession has a long tradition. Since the cake made in Hung Lo village is tasty and eye-catching, the people of Hung Lo was honoured to take the responsibility of making Chung cake for Hung Kings every year. The Chung cakes made in Hung Lo craft village are more and more favoured by people from many places.
Hung Lo is also a village possessing a traditional vermicelli making technique. Coming to Hung Lo, travelers will be able to learn about the steps in vermicelli making and to taste this famous specialty of the village. If interested, visitors can also experience some vermicelli making steps by themselves.
Families living in ancient houses keep the tradition of Chung cake making and become familiar destinations for domestic and foreign tourists.
Rice noodles making in Hung Lo Village
4. The promotion of intangible cultural values
The richness and diversity of ancient heritages show the prosperity of Hung Lo Ancient Village complex. More importantly, the heritages such as ancient houses, village ponds or the green bamboo fence covering the village are always protected and preserved by village people through the ages, maintaining a valuable treasure for future generations.
Visiting Hung Lo communal house, travelers can not only be introduced to many historical tales to have more understanding and to be more proud of the tradition but also enjoy interesting performances of Xoan Singing (a traditional art of Phu Tho). Since being open for visitors, to diversify the tourism products, Xoan Singing is also performed right at the entrance of the communal house for tourists who have reserved a visiting schedule. The uniqueness of the melodies of this intangible cultural heritage is that it will become attractive with a strange charisma when being performed by the voice and the dance of the people who was born and grew up in Hung Lo, the cradle of the original Xoan Singing.
Xoan Singing Performance at the ancient communal house of Hung Lo
Currently in Hung Lo commune, there are several households providing homestay service which allows tourists to rest as well as to enjoy the meals and the visiting right in the family’s ancient house.
With a combination of the craft village and spiritual tourism based on a rich cultural and historical resource, Hung Lo Ancient Village promises to become a more and more famous destination to domestic and international travelers. Phu Tho province is currently planning the space of Hung Lo communal house cultural tourism spot to become a spiritual destination with the initial sightseeing route of: Hung Kings’ Temple - Hung Lo communal house. Hopefully in the coming time, the community tourism products such as the ancient village homestay service or the bike sightseeing service will come into operation.
Contact details for tour booking and necessary services:
Service department - Phu Tho Province Tourism Promotion Center: 0210 3852.888