National 19th century relic falls apart

A historic communal house in the northern province of Vinh Phuc is close to collapse because of dithering by local authorities.

The structure classed as a national historic relic has rapidly deteriorated during the past three years.

The Dinh Chu Communal House in Dinh Chu commune in Lap Thach district was recognised as a national historic site in 1996 and classed as a provincial treasure.

The building was constructed in 1803 during the reign of Gia Long King (1780-1820) and was renovated in 1846 under the Thieu Tri reign (1841-1847).

The solid, low structure is built of wooden pillars and beams carved with great sophistication. Despite its classification, the building has seriously declined in the past three years.

Dinh Lang Viet, a group acting to protect communal houses, has gathered signatures from 10,000 people in a petition letter to call for urgent action by the Vinh Phuc People’s Committee.
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“In 2016, after a series of articles on the state of the building, local agencies visited the site and planned renovation in 2018,” Nguyen Duc Loc, a member of the group said. “However, following the present severe weather, it is predicted the structure may collapse at any time." 

The group has asked authorities to build a temporary metal roof over the building and some support columns to prevent collapse.

In reply, the People’s Committee sent a letter signed by Tran Thi Minh Loi, deputy head of the provincial People’s Committee Office, on August 28, saying that the construction had been listed as a renovation project financed by the provincial budget.

In turn, the committee also forwdard the letter to concerned agencies. However, head of the protection group, Nguyen Duc Binh, said he was worried by the slow reaction of local authorities.

“Recent incidents in the Than Quy Communal House, in Phu Xuyen district on the outskirts of Hanoi and the Dinh Chu Communal House reflect the insensitivity by local heritage managers,” he said. “Such neglect is no longer acceptable.”

Architectural professor Khuat Tan Hung warned that a relic abandoned for a long time often resulted in more rapid deterioration.

Hung said the ancient monument should be assigned to the local community to use and protect as it was in ancient times.

The communal house has five halls arranged the shape of “J”. The central hall is reserved for the worship of the 18 Hung kings, while the one at the back is dedicated to the village’s patron saint. Forty solid tree trunk columns support the building.

Communal houses are one of the oldest features of Vietnamese culture. Records of them stretch back as far as 1,500 years.
VNA

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