Tho Ha Village – Bac Giang

Tho Ha village is in Van Ha commune, Viet Yen district, nearly 50km away from Hanoi capital, about 19km away from Bac Giang city and along poetic Cau river. Tho Ha is famous for culture and tradition. This is considered as “sacred land with talented people”, famous for Tho Ha porcelain village, girdle cake village, ancient love-duet village…

Porcelain industry in Tho Ha has been developed since the 14th century. This is one of three most ancient porcelain centers of Vietnamese people in addition to Phu Lang (Que Vo, Bac Ninh) and Bat Trang (Gia Lam, Hanoi). According to family records of the trade village and archaeological objects discovered, Tho Ha is one of the cradles of porcelain industry. Products of this trade village used to be famous in all the country. From the foundation of porcelain industry to the early 90s of the 20th century, all the villagers live on porcelain.

Tho Ha porcelain has its unique highlight: high content of terracotta, waterproof, its noise as bells’, smooth, warm and close brown-red enamel color. Porcelain products have permanent durability although they are buried in the soil or soaked in the water. The village only makes porcelain household things with once famous jars and earthenware containers. Old porcelain pieces remained in walls is still in their shapes with their spirit. Thanks to porcelain industry, life of former people here is much better than those in other areas. The prosperity of porcelain industry helped people built an architectural complex of communal houses, temples, shrines and village gates of great size.

Tho Ha is also famous for old architectures, from houses to village gate, old well area, which are made of refined bricks and terracotta without enamel. Especially, here exists an ancient temple and a sizable communal house – a masterpiece of Vietnamese traditional architecture.

Tho Ha village gate has nice, large and antique architecture, made by skillful hands of the village’s craftsmen, showing the prosperity of the former porcelain industry. This is one of the best village gates in the lower and middle stream of Cau river. The gate is at the village head, in front of the communal house, with a wide lake on the left and a hundreds-of-years banyan tree on the right. These are cultural particulars of residents in Northern plain with the images of village gate, banyan tree, river wharf and communal house yard with gate roof, temples, shrines … In addition, in the village still preserves some ancient houses built more than 100 years ago, typical for ancient houses of Northern plain.

Tho Ha communal house is a famous communal house of Kinh Bac area. It was built in 1962, in Le Hy Tong dynasty. This is a sizable architectural construction in a land of 3000m2 wide with a unique sculpture. The communal house used to be ranked by French authority in Indo-China Archaeological Museum. It worships Thanh Hoang, the Lao-tzu and founder of Dao Tri Tien porcelain industry. This is the second ancient communal house in Bac Giang (after Lo Hanh communal house, which is built in 1576).

Tho Ha communal house is typical for Vietnamese cultural and spiritual space with particular architectures. The communal house is large and has relatively complete architectural structure. The sculpture indicates clearly and uniquely the style of Le dynasty. The topics shown in architectural components are mainly “the four supernatural creatures, four seasons”, stylized flowers and leaves, birds and people. The dragon in Tho Ha communal house was carved in many positions with the topics of dragon nets, mother dragons carrying their children, dragons and girls…

In addition to ancient architectural components, the communal house still keeps nine ancient steles. Ancient bibliographies and steles demonstrate the antiqueness of this communal house. Therefore, it is not sudden when scientists consider Tho Ha communal house as a flower in Vietnamese ancient architectural art. In 1962, Tho Ha communal house was ranked as the national artistic and architectural relic.

Tho Ha temple is named “Doan Minh Tu”. The formal chronology of the temple has not been found. Basing on the letters written in the two stone dragons at the door of the temple, in Giap Than year 1580, in Mac dynasty, they bought stone dragons; in Canh Than year 1610, the temple was repaired. Therefore, the temple must have been built before that time.

The temple was built with large scale, including three-door temple gate, bell-tower and forecourt. The three-door temple gate lies behind the communal house. The bell-tower and forecourt were carved splendidly with topics of dragons, clouds, flowers and leaves. In resistance wars, the big bell in the bell-tower was taken to mould weapons. In the temple has the statutes of Nhu Lai Great Buddha and Quan Am Bodhisattva Kuan-yin sitting on Buddha’s thrones.

From Tam Bao tower, along the two corridors is to go to the fairy cave, a unique architectural construction. The fairy cave records all images of Thich Ca from his birth, growth to his quitting from imperial city to go to the cave to reach a religious life. Next, going across a big year, we comes to the Founder house, which worships the Founder and monks presiding the temple. Tho Ha temple was ranked as a cultural and historical relic in 1996.

Tho Ha village shrine was built in the 17th century (according to the stele remained, it was built in the 5th Vinh Thinh year, 1680). It worships Khong Tu, Tu Phoi, 72 gentle fairies… This is considered the cradle of Tho Ha knowledge. It also attracts many tourists to visit, especially in exam seasons when candidates come here to burn incense with respectful heart. Tho Ha village shrine was recognized as a cultural and historical relic on 28/02/1999.

The antique beauty in ancient architectural areas and villages along with traditional crafts with the village spirit, Tho Ha has been attracting more and more domestic and foreign tourists to visit and study about art and architecture, as well as artists and craftsmen to visit and find out inspiration for artistic creation.

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