Duong Lam ancient village is the first ancient village recognised as a national relic after the recognition of Hoi An ancient town, Hanoi Old Quarter.
Duong Lam village has a history of about 1,200 years and is well-known for its surviving laterite brick houses built three to four centuries ago. The village is also famous nationwide for being the birthplace of two national kings. Besides, it has preserved a treasure of tangible cultural relics like ancient houses, communal houses, temples and pagodas as well as a lot of intangible cultural relics such as festivals and traditional clothes, cuisine culture etc. A journey to Duong Lam village is a trip to trace back the origin of Vietnam’s culture and Vietnam’s traditions, to explore architecture of ancient houses while wandering along its narrow alleyways, and to escape from the bustle of city life.
National heritage sites
The communal house is a worshipping place of the god – founder of the village. The ancient village consists of 5 villages so it has 5 communal houses. Doai Giap and Cam Lam communal houses dedicate to Phung Hung – the national hero who won the victory against invaders under Duong Dynasty; Cam Thinh communal house dedicates both the founder of the village and great mandarin Cao Phuc Dien – the hero under Le Dynasty. Dong Sang communal house worships the God but it was destroyed by fire and was restored by financial support from people. The god Tan Vien Son was dedicated in Mong Phu communal house. So far, Mong Phu communal house is a gathering place of the villagers for cultural activities. The communal house was made carefully with sophisticated decoration details. It is considered as a flower of unique sculptural architecture.
300-400 year-old ancient houses
The ancient houses are famous for their architecture. These wooden houses mainly have 5 or 7 spans with 2 wings and 5 rows of columns. The houses have been specialized by sophisticatedly carved details in the form of flowers, leaves, clouds, dragons, etc.
A system of wooden doors is very firm. Each span has 4 leaves of the door with upper and lower joints. Thresholds were made of firm wood above 40-50cm from the ground and 10cm from the floor. This distance helps to ventilate well, avoid humidity for the thresholds. The whole system of the thresholds is the tie system linking all spans together.
One more special thing about the ancient houses is that most of the them were made of laterite and mud, two materials that are abundant in the area. Laterite is used on house walls, gates, wells, temple walls, and so forth. The mud is taken from ponds. Apart from its historical and tourism values, these more than 300-year-old houses are the important places for architects to study.
As one of the 10 oldest pagodas in Vietnam, Mia pagoda has many most beautiful statues of Vietnam. Mia pagoda (also known as Sung Nghiem temple) is located in Duong Lam commune. It is considered to store most art statues in Vietnam (287 statues). In May, 2006 Mia pagoda was listed in Vietnam Buddha culture record list of having largest number of art Buddha statues.
Buddha statue at Mia pagoda is not only unique in appearance, but also rich in number. The pagoda has totally 287 Buddha statues, with 6 bronze statues, 107 wooden statues and 174 earthenware statues. Each statue has its own expression, design, color.
Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung Temple
Two of Vietnam’s kings, Phung Hung (761-802) and Ngo Quyen (896-944) were born in Duong Lam, giving the village its prestige. Both men led resistance wars against northern invasion and after winning national independence, were crowned kings. After their deaths, the local people built temples in their honour.
The Bach Dang victory led by Ngo Quyen in 938 put an end to the 1000-year period of Chinese imperial domination. After his death, the local people built this temple to honor him.
Legend has it that 18 Ruoi trees are extremely important to Duong Lam people. The Duong Lam people also believe that it represents for the prosperity and thriving for Duong Lam villagers. The oldest tree is around 1200 years old. These trees are recognized as national heritage trees.
Mong Phu Gate
This is a typical gate of a village in northern Vietnam. Behind it is a 300-year-old banyan tree, next to a lotus pond and rice fields. Originally, it was made of wood to prevent wild beasts from entering. Later, they became part of the general defense against any intruders. An important part of a gate is the top, which is often built in the form of an arch. The arch is usually covered, so travelers can hide from the tropical sun and rains. On each sides of the arch, there are tall pillars, with reliefs of parallel sentences, designed to introduce the village’s good traditions.
Other beauty spots:
Duong Lam village is also famous for many beautiful scenery.
Let’s come to Duong Lam village to trace back to the origin of Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese traditions, to explore architecture of ancient houses while wandering along its narrow alleyways, and to escape from the bustle of city life.