Friday, October 21 2016


Ancient home reopens after fire

Update: January, 15/2016 - 08:05
Rising from the ashes: Ancient Lang House has reopened for visitors. — Photo Courtesy of Muong Culture Space Museum
HA NOI (VNS) — An opening ceremony will be held today to mark the reopening of an ancient house on stilts in the northern province of Hoa Binh that had been reduced to ashes.

The house had been burnt to the ground by a group of careless tourists at the end of 2013.

Painter Vu Duc Hieu, director of the Muong Culture Space Museum, where the house is located, said the basic design of the wooden building has almost been completed.

Called "nha Lang" (Lang House) in Vietnamese, the mansion, which is more than 100 years old, was originally used by hereditary mandarins of the ethnic Muong in the locality.

It was the last mansion of its kind, which gathered the most typical architectural values of the group, spiritual life and daily routines of the family of the community's leader. The mansion was handed down from father to son – all mandarins.

After the fire, Hieu has initiated various fund raising events throughout the last two years including fashion shows, painting exhibitions and auctions.

The latest event held last month gathered VND400 million (US$18,000).

"Without the support of the entire community, I would have to rebuild the house at my own cost, but it would have taken much longer," Hieu said.

The renovated house-on-stilts still consists of its eight old burnt wooden pillars.

"The key factors [pillars] of the house will still bring back its soul," architect Le Thanh Vinh, rector of Relics Preservation Institute, said. "My team has used special chemicals to stabilise burnt wooden parts and we have made use of the old material which is still intact."

For parts that needed replacement, the team gathered them from houses-on-stilts of Muong ethnic people from Thu Cuc Commune, Tan Son District of the northern province of Phu Tho.

A team of Muong building workers from the same locality completed the renovation tasks.

"Luckily, we saved all the images of the house three years ago in a 3D file, based on which we could rebuild the destroyed details," Hieu said.

However, many old objects inside the house, such as gongs, copper pots, blankets, and tea sets, in addition to bowls and chopsticks, were destroyed. The owner had to replace almost all the utensils.

"I had spent ten years collecting 200 objects inside the house to display there before it was burnt down," Hieu said. "Now I need more time to collect everything again."

The renovated house will be guarded more carefully with a system of cameras.

"We will offer tours to the house to local children to teach them about Muong culture, music and spiritual life, so that they understand and gradually join hands to preserve the local culture," Hieu said.

"The rebirth of Lang House is a vivid example of community sharing responsibilities in preserving the heritage," sculptor Dao Chau Hai said. "It is a story of traditional culture continuing in contemporary culture life."

The museum is located on Tay Tien Road in a total area of two hectares, in the northern province of Hoa Binh, just 80km to the west of Ha Noi centre. It was officially opened on December 16, 2007, as the first private museum devoted to the Muong culture. — VNS

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