About Hai Duong

Unique features of Xu Dong’s countryside

SATURDAY, 21/01/2023 08:12:00

Located in the center of the Red River Delta and being the eastern partition of the Thang Long citadel, Xu Dong (Eastern Land – former name of Hai Duong) was rich in long-standing cultural traditions.

Many modern houses still bear features of ancient Xu Dong people’s houses with sunshades. Photos: Thanh Chung

Xu Dong’s countryside had both characteristics of rural areas in the Northern Delta and unique features of the province.

Long-standing cultural traditions

According to archaeological vestiges, agglomerations appeared in Hai Duong early. Traces of primitive people from 50,000 – 30,000 years ago in Thanh Hoa cave, Nham Duong mountain, Kinh Mon provincial town, and Dong Son culture in various relics found in Hai Duong are clear proofs. 

Hai Duong is home to many thousand-year-old villages such as Hoach Trach (Thai Hoc), Mo Trach (Tan Hong, both in Binh Giang district); Cap Nhat, Cap Thuong (Tien Tien, Hai Duong city), etc.

Besides, Hai Duong is rich in academic tradition. During the feudal period, Hai Duong ranked first in the country in the number of successful examinees, especially the number of Confucian PhDs (472), including 11 first doctoral laureates.

Mo Trach village, which is called “the cradle of Xu Dong PhDs”, is not the only land of learning as it is present everywhere in Hai Duong. Almost all villages have van chi (temple of literature), an ancient cultural institution.

Along with van chi, there are stele inscriptions in all villages in Hai Duong, showing that there were literate people there. This is different from many villages in the Southern Delta, mountainous areas, and even a lot of localities in the North.

Villages attached to rivers

According to the book History of Hai Duong, volume 1, (Su That (Truth) National Political Publishing House, 2021), due to the interspersion of plains, hills, and mountains and dense rivers and lakes, ancient Hai Duong people chose to live by rivers, at the foot of hills, and on highlands, forming villages, administrative units from the dawn of the national construction.

Due to a dense waterway system, many houses in Hai Duong always have boats as means of transport. In the photo: People in Kim Anh commune, Kim Thanh district, go fishing by boat

From the first residential units in hilly areas of Nham Duong, Kinh Mon, people went down to conquer the plains, and riverside highlands were selected to establish villages.

Due to association with rivers, there were boats in all houses of ancient people, who were all good at swimming. Boats were their main means of transport. A lot of folk games of Hai Duong at village festivals are also associated with rivers.

Rich customs

Due to the topography and hot and humid climate, people often built houses with bamboo and thatch. Most houses faced south to avoid heat with a gate, a pond, a yard, and a garden.

The kitchen was built separate from the house and usually near the pond to facilitate washing and firefighting.

Ancient Hai Duong people mainly engaged in agriculture, fishing, cotton and mulberry growing, weaving, silkworm raising, etc.

Located in the cultural space of the Northern Delta, Xu Dong’s villages also carried common cultural features of the region. For example, every village had a gate, a communal house, and a pagoda, some even had tea shops. At leisure, villages often held festivals with diverse activities.

To date, with general development of society, Hai Duong’s villages have changed a lot. As a new-style rural province with many communes that have been building advanced and model new-style rural areas, Hai Duong has increasingly spacious, modern, and civilized villages. Nonetheless, the soul of Xu Dong’s countryside with many traditional cultural features, customs, and habits is still preserved and promoted.



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