Hanh Thien: A fish-shaped feudal village

11:20 | 27/03/2017 Culture & Art

(VEN) - A 600-year-old village is the subject of intense interest by researchers due to its unique shape and outstanding cultural and historical values. The village of Hanh Thien in Xuan Truong District of the northern coastal province of Nam Dinh is an architectural complex shaped like a carp fish.  

The ancient village of Hanh Thien

At a recent seminar held to discuss the history of the Red River Delta village and the pressing need to preserve it, experts agreed that the construction plan and design were deliberately thought out nearly 600 years ago. Thus, for example, the area from the carp’s “belly” up to the “gills” was designed as the villagers’ habitat. It was divided into 14 hamlets, with houses built on both sides of a road running along the carp’s “backbone”. In the center of the village are the communal house, a temple, and a market.

According to old documents, all the village roads were paved with green stone. The village was surrounded by artificial canals, into which water could flow to prevent flooding.

Conserving traditional values

However, over time, many homes and much infrastructure was degraded or disappeared. Experts are warning that unless conservation and rehabilitation are carried out, the village’s overall form and ancient works will be wiped out within several decades.

Architecture Professor Hoang Dao Kinh said studies of Hanh Thien show that the village was a most unique and complete rural community structure including architecture, living space and transport infrastructure in feudal times. Therefore, Hanh Thien should be considered as a rural cultural heritage site, he said.

Kinh also warned that the residential environment in villages and communes is losing its traditional characteristics, making research more important and urgent than ever. Village and commune heritage values are formed by the residential community so that communities have a decisive role in preserving and inheriting those values.

Researchers are interested in studying the tangible and intangible values of Hanh Thien Village, one of the finest

embodiments of traditional Vietnamese rural structures.

Hoa Quynh