Dinh Bang Communal House is one of the most famous ancient communal houses in the northern Vietnam. It is located in Dinh Bang commune, Tu Son district, Bac Ninh province, about 50km from downtown Hanoi.
The communal house was built in 1736, worshiping three village tutelary gods including Earth spirit, Water spirit and Cultivation spirit, who are the gods that local villagers often ask for favorable weather and better crops.
Dinh Bang Communal House was built in the early 18th century and construction was completed in 1736. The first effort was attributed to Nguyen Thac Luong, a mandarin and native of Dinh Bang village, and his wife Nguyen Thi Nguyen, a native of Thanh Hoa province, who bought iron-wood and donated it to the villagers to erect the communal house (Today, the ancient house that was erected for trial by Nguyen Thac Luong prior to construct the communal house has still preserved and maintained).
Dinh Bang communal house is the unique identity of national architecture, which retains integrity of national stilt house type applied in communal house architecture. Dating back the foundation time of the country, stilt house image was carved on Dong Son bronze drum – a creation of ancestors in housing architecture. Thus, it is impossible to take a magnificent communal house of tens of centuries later to compare with stilt house image on the bronze drum, but both of them are unified in style with architectural inheritance and development established at the first time of country foundation.
Dinh Bang is a large-scale architectural work, which previously comprised three-entrance gate; the central gate was built with bricks in the shape of a lantern. At its two sides there are vaulted gates with fake roofs. Just like other communal house, the most significant work of Dinh Bang, in terms of architecture, is Bai Duong, which is in rectangular of 20 m long, 14 m wide and consists of seven compartments. It is very imposing due to its large roof of 2/3 total height and about 60 iron-wood pillars with diameters ranging from 55 to 65cm placed on square blue stone blocks.
Entering the centre of communal house, visitors shall be greeted and attracted by carving art elites of the 18th century. The first attraction to visitors is a great door at middle curve of outside compartment. It covers a wide area stretching all over the compartment and is carved delicately on 7 layers, 9 squares in themes of four animals and four treasures…
Frame structure of the communal house is pretty steady, bound together by overlaying joints. Each sculpture in the communal house is considered a unique masterpiece. The “Bat ma quan phi” work presents the livelihood, generosity and peacefulness of this land through image and posture of each horse; or the work “two flanking lions” demonstrates different feelings of male and female lion, etc.
Annually in the lunar twelfth month, villagers hold festival to entreat for a year of abundant harvest. At the communal house, the villagers also worship the Six Patriarchs (six family patron saints who made great contributions to re-building the village in the 15th century).