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Jun 11, 2023 / 15:29

Unique temple in Hanoi for patron saint of lacquer trade

The Ha Vi Community House is a religious building dedicated to Tran Lu, Vietnam's patron saint of lacquering. Its preservation will help promote the heritage value of the Old Quarter and attract more tourists to the capital.

Hoan Kiem District has recently placed a memorial plaque on the renovated Ha Vi Community House at 11 Hang Hom Street, Hang Gai District, in Hanoi's Old Quarter.

Renovations have recently been completed on the century-old Ha Vi Community House in Hanoi's Old Quarter. Photo: Huy Hoang/ The Hanoi Times

It is also part of a series of activities to celebrate the 75th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's Call for Patriotic Emulation (June 11, 1948 - June 11, 2023).

Promoting Heritage Protection in Hanoi's Old Quarter

The Party Committee, authorities and people of Hoan Kiem District are always concerned about preserving and promoting the value of cultural heritage while promoting tourism development, said Nguyen Quoc Hoan, deputy chairman of the Hoan Kiem District People's Committee.

In terms of site clearance and restoration, listed relics are given priority. The district has allocated large capital from its budget and solicited private funds to restore such relics.

Speaking about the Ha Vi Communal House, Hoan said the district had allocated funds to renovate and beautify it.

"With the 'Ha Vi Communal House Renovation and Embellishment' project, the investor and contractors have done a good job of preserving the tangible and intangible heritage values of the relic following the Law on Cultural Heritage provisions," he said.

After more than a year, the project was completed and the district chose the relic as the building commemorating the 75th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's call to patriotic emulation.
Today's Ha Vi Community House is like a mini-museum that vividly demonstrates the development of traditional handicraft in the 36-street area of the ancient capital - Thang Long.

 The wonderful new appearance of Ha Vi Communal House in Hanoi. Photo: Huy Hoang/ The Hanoi Times

Who is the patron saint of lacquering craft in Hanoi?

The site of the Ha Vi Community House, also known as the Ha Vi Ancestral Hall, formerly belonged to Co Vu Thuong Commune, Tien Tuc Canton, Tho Xuong District. In the mid-19th century, some natives of Ha Vi Village, Thuong Tin Prefecture, Ha Dong Province (now Thuong Tin District, Hanoi City) migrated to Hanoi and practiced their traditional craft of lacquering on Hang Hom Street.

At first, they opened shops making and selling wooden boxes, chests, or coffins. Later, they mainly lacquered wooden trunks, caskets, horizontal inscribed boards, couplets, lamps, worship thrones, and altar cabinets.

The craftsmen built the Ha Vi communal house to worship the patron saint of lacquering, Tran Lu (1470-1540), a native of Binh Vong Village, Van Binh Ward, Thuong Tin District.

 Ha Vi Communal House at 11 Hang Hom Street is the place for worshiping the godfather of lacquering in Vietnam - Tran Lu (1470-1540). Photo: Huy Hoang/ The Hanoi Times

A funky ancient communal house in the heart of Hanoi

With an area of 202.3 square meters, the current Ha Vi Community House is rather small. The building houses relics that bear artistic characteristics of the Nguyen dynasty: stone steles, bronze bells, worshipping cranes and thrones, spirit tablets, couplets, and horizontal inscribed boards.

According to the remaining steles, the communal house underwent numerous repairs in the early 20th century, especially in the 8th year of Duy Tan's reign (1914), the 6th year of Khai Dinh's reign (1921), and the 16th year of Bao Dai's reign (1941).

In 1947, the communal house was demolished by the French colonialists. Although it no longer retains its original architectural design after being restored in 1951, Ha Vi Communal House was listed as a Historical-Artistic Relic by Hanoi City in 2014.

 On the morning of June 8, the Hoan Kiem District held a ceremony to place a commemorative plaque on the renovated Ha Vi Community House at 11 Hang Hom Street, Hang Gai Ward, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's Call for Patriotic Emulation (June 11, 1948 - June 11, 2023). Photo: Huy Hoang/ The Hanoi Times

Over a long period, full of historical ups and downs, the communal house had been seriously degraded by the impact of climate and people. The relic area had been narrowed down, most of the structure had been dismantled, and many valuable items used for worship had been lost or severely damaged.

The Ha Vi communal house is now being revived thanks to the cooperation of local authorities, people, and businesses.

It will serve as a venue for various activities, including sightseeing, religious ceremonies, and historical education after it is renovated and beautified.

According to local cultural experts, it will also be an attractive destination for domestic and foreign tourists in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter, helping preserve and promote the capital's cultural and historical values.

 Ha Vi Communal House, a newly restored traditional religious building, will add more architectural colors and cultural values to Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Photo: Huy Hoang/ The Hanoi Times