Preserving Nghe Tan’s ancient house

MONDAY, 24/08/2020 07:49:15

In the heart of Hai Duong city is Nghe Tan’s house. This is the only house of a feudal mandarin left and currently being preserved by generations at the Hai Duong museum.

The front of the ancient house of Nghe Tan

The five-compartment house made of dinh and lim (two kinds of ironwood) has been restored and displayed in the precinct of the provincial museum for nearly 30 years, showing the enthusiasm of generations of the museum staff.

This is a precious legacy that cannot be preserved everywhere. More specially, it is the only house of a feudal mandarin that can be retained in Hai Duong.

It was a great deal of effort of the museum staff to detect, preserve, and restore the house at the provincial museum.

The yard and garden were designed in accordance with the specifications of an ancient house

When finding out the house of Nghe Tan, Tang Ba Hoanh was the director of the provincial museum.

Nearly 30 years ago, when there was a plan to restore houses of upper, middle, and lower classes, he and his colleagues connected a lot of information and detected an ancient house in Phuc Mai hamlet, Gia Tan commune, Gia Loc district.

Through some patchy information of the owner of the house and historical materials, the museum officials affirmed that the house was associated with its first owner, Nghe Tan.

In 1994, after the owner had agreed to the price of VND40 million, equivalent to eight taels of gold, the ancient house of Nghe Tan was brought back by the provincial museum for restoration.

Objects in the house are arranged in respect of the prototype, including columns and square bases made of Thanh Hoa blue stones

To respect the original, skilled craftsmen from the carpentry villages of Cuc Bo and Kien Quoc in Ninh Giang district and Tu Minh in Hai Duong city were summoned for restoration in half a year.

To date, many items of the ancient house have been repaired; however, the beam frame, carved leaf patterns, five compartments covering an area of nearly 90 m2, and buttresses are still retained.

Columns are placed on square stones. Three central compartments are adjoined to each other with a traditional wooden door on the front. Two side compartments are partitioned, forming two speparate chambers with windows on the front and the back...
Nghe Tan’s real name was Nguyen Quy Tan (1814 – 1858). His courtesy name, pseudonym, and nickname were Dinh Trai, Tuy Tien, and Tan Tien Dinh anchorite, respectively.

He was born into a poor Confucian family in Thuong Coc village, Hoi Xuyen tong (an administrative unit comprising many communes in the old days), Gia Loc district, Ninh Giang phu (an administrative unit more important than a district in the old days), now in Gia Khanh commune, Gia Loc district.

He passed the prefectural examination at the age of 29, became a doctor in the 2nd Thieu Tri year (1842), and was popularly called Nghe (Doctor) Tan.


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