Coming to Tien Giang, it is sure that you will be surprised by the more than 110 year-old communal house which is “embraced” by a sacred Bodhi tree in Tan Dong.
It is really special that in the west region, people still preserve an ancient architecture attach with the ups and downs of the national history. Tan Dong communal house, also called Go Tao communal house, is located in Tan Dong commune, Go Cong district, Tien Giang province. It is a unique communal house in Vietnam because it is fully “embraced” by hundreds of knots roots of 3 Bodhi trees.
How to get there
To go to Tan Dong communal house, you can choose 1 in 2 following directions:
- Go along 1A national highway, through Binh Chanh market gas station, then turn left to Dinh Duc Thien road and go straight to DT826. From there, go along 50 national highway – HL13 – Mac Van Thanh road to Tan Dong communal house.
- Go along 50 national highway to HL13 – Mac Van Thanh road – Tan Dong communal house (shorter way).
Tan Dong communal house, located in a overgrown pasture, includes Presbytery, subsidiary house and yard. In front of the communal house, it is engraved “the year 1907”, but no one knows exactly in that year the house was built or restored. According to many seniors, the communal house was built to the reign of Emperor Minh Mang. However, the architectural patterns and motifs on the communal house are typical of the Nguyen family.
At that time, the house was choosen as the place to organize the festivals: Ky Yen, Thuong Dien, Ha Dien and Cau Ong. By the time of the war against French colonialism it became a meeting place of revolutionary soldiers and by the time of the war against Imperialist America it was transformed into a place of detention, torture and suppression of families with children participating in the revolution. After liberating, the number of people visiting the communal house is less gradually, therefore it becomes deserted. Through the ups and downs of time, until now, only the altar hall is remained with full decorative motifs.
The current conditions
However, 30 years ago, the communal house appeared 3 Bodhi trees growing up to its roof. The tree roots cling to the wall and go along the cracks of the communal house to become firm columns making the house steadier.
In 1990, a Bodhi tree was cut by someone, but the local people still kept the 2 ones. Thanks to the two large canopy trees, the tile roof is covered the rain and sunshades over time.
To the local people in here, these 2 Bodhi trees are considered as two gods both protect and help the house overcome the harsh weather and rainstorm.
Up to now, people in the area have put their faith in the sacred communal house and they sweep and worship Tan Phong as a pride of a special historic monument in here.
A small note for you is that the communal house is not as large and spacious as other houses, so if you have the opportunity to visit here, you remember to go lightly, talk quietly and avoid joking, climbing or damaging the house.
Ancient communal house cries for help
Tan Dong communal house was awarded the provincial cultural and historical vestiges by the People’s Committee of Tien Giang province on December 9th, 2010. However, now the house is severely degraded: the doors of the communal house have had drum vacant, the walls have peeled back the the old brick, many sections have been close down and the tile roof is also severely damaged making up big gaps.
The communal house’s gate is newly collapsed by reparing the road, while the house in front of the communal house (where ceremonies and rituals are usually performed) are only a few concrete pillars near the collapse.
Tran Thanh Phuc, deputy director of Tien Giang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that before the status of Tan Dong House was degrading, on March 15, the Department combined with Go Cong Dong district, Tan Dong commune to survey, measure and discuss the method of restoration, then will report to the provincial People’s Committee for guidance, early restoration of the house.
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