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Located at No.10 Ngo Gach, Dong Xuan Ward in Hoan Kiem District of Hanoi, Thanh Ha Communal House was seen as the oldest extant stele in Hanoi. Built in 1430, this historical relic was originally named Thanh Ha Ngoc Phả Bi Kí.
Built to give great honor to the tutelary god named Tran Luu, this communal house was constructed as a symbol of the general in the Tran Dynasty (13 century). He was known under the honor name: “Great Lord” which was granted for his legend. According to the ancient stele, his legend is as follow:
The Great Lord’s full name consists of Tran, the family name, and Luu, his last name. He was grown-up the era of Tran Dynasty. At that time, the country was currently occupied by Yuan-Mongol, the invader from the North. Therefore, the wars made Vietnam a chaotic and overwhelmingly poor country. The King told all his army and civilian mandarins that, if they defeated the invaders, he would grant them power and titles. They all refused to fight except for Trần Lựu, so the King conferred upon him the title of “Ứng Chỉ Hầu”, or marquis. Trần Lựu led three thousand able-bodied soldiers to Vũ Ninh town where, thanks to his military wisdom and the strong army, the invaders were vanquished.
Came back to Thanh Ha Village in Dong Xuan District after defeating the foreign invaders, Tran Luu held a great feast for his troops at the Thang Long Citadel. Tran Luu then also invited the most important people from villages round Thanh Ha Village to join the party and made the citizens happy very much. Tran Luu understood that Thanh Ha has a very important position in which many talented people were born. . During his statement, dark storm clouds gathered, wind raged, and lightening flashed in the sky then, suddenly, the Great Lord disappeared into the heavens. The villagers were so awestruck, they decided to build a communal house and worship him as their tutelary god.
Thanh Hà Communal House faces the east. The three-entrance gate is built near the street with three doors of different widths. Passing through a small yard one comes upon a tiền bái (front hall) built in the closed-tip style and consisting of three rooms, the central room being lower than the other two.
The Phương Đình (square pavilion) is connected to the tiền bái by the back-house. It has four big pillars and two sets of rafters supporting four roofs made of beams carved with flowers, leaves, and phoenixes. Inside the back-house, there is an altar with finely carved and painted arched doors.
Thanh Hà Communal House festival is held on the 4th day of the fourth lunar month and 15th day of the ninth lunar month, the dates of the birth and death of their tutelary god.
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