Chang Son commune, Thach That district, in Hanoi, is a countryside location with unique traditional cultural identities in Xu Doai (also called Son Tay province in the old days).
Chang Son communal house is a unique architectural work in Hanoi.
Xu Doai owns many intangible and tangible cultural heritages, including Duong Lam ancient village, Tan Vien – Ba Vi mountain and traditional water puppetry in Thach Xa commune, Thach That district.
In the old days, Chang Son (also called Nguyen Xa Trang) was chosen as the district capital in 1788. Since then, thanks to ingenuity and creativity, various unique trades have been gradually formed.
According to a survey, Thach That has around 16 trades, including seven in Chang Son: weaving silk, making paper fans, making pineapple slippers, carpentry, making bamboo curtains, making confectionery and knitting boats. Notably, the talent of the carpenters in Chang Son commune has spread nationwide thanks to their wooden products and their participation in the construction of many pagodas and temples.
In his report titled ‘Vang bong mot thoi’ (Echo and Shadow Upon a Time), writer Nguyen Tuan mentioned that God Tan once pretended to be an ordinary man and picked a carpenter up in Chang Son commune to construct his temple on Ba Vi mountain. The legendary story also tells that carpentry in the ancient land was formed thousands of years ago (since the last years of the Hung Kings era).
In addition to handicrafts, Chang Son is also famous for traditional cultural identities, particularly national art forms. Water puppetry has existed in the locality for hundreds of years. Many local artisans and families preserve ancient puppets. Currently, Chang Son water puppetry guild has around 20 artisans with 22 plays. Many of them used to be skilled carpenters and artisans creating and performing puppetry. With their talents, imagination and ingenuity, they made many soulful puppets with different personalities, conveying meaningful messages.
Thanks to the support from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as well as the Vietnam – Sweden Cultural Fund, Chang Son had a solid water puppetry theatre in the village pond and a mobile theatre was constructed for tours. In recent years, in addition to tours, the local guild gave performances right in the local villages to serve visitors. Many performances by the Chang Son water puppetry guild won high prizes and certificates at city-level and national festivals.
Chang Son has made efforts to preserve many ancient temples, pagodas and houses, creating an attraction for the countryside in Xu Doai. Villagers have joined hands to restore a communal house to worship the three brothers of Tan Gods: Tan Vien Son, Duc Cao Son and Duc Quy Minh.
Chang Son villagers are also well-known to be good at literature, arts and business. No matter where they go and what they do, they always give their love towards their fatherland.
Many villagers and families from Chang Son have enthusiastically devoted themselves to the preservation of traditional cultural heritages. For example, art exchanges and fine arts creation camps were held by the Hung Vuong Institute for Human Resources and Talent Management (HVTalent) to honour cultural heritages in Xu Doai, creating a spillover effect among community and artists.
According to the HVTalent Institute’s Director Nguyen Thi Kim Duc, the paintings and sculptures of Vietnamese villages that were formed at art exchanges will help younger generations to remember their roots and uphold patriotism. HVTalent’s activity will also contribute to raising public awareness of preserving cultural heritages as well as promoting the image of Xu Doai.
Painters are participating in a fine art exchange programme at Chang Son communal house.