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Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

By Trung Nghia, Tran Quoc Trung   November 27, 2021 | 06:58 pm PT
Duong Lam Village is a living daily life museum with a lifestyle that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. A bewitched Hanoian captures its images for posterity.
Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

Two women dressed in traditional peasant attire walk through the village gate.

Tran Quoc Trung said he was motivated to make this collection by fear that Duong Lam Village would become a victim of modern urbanization in the near future.

The village, about 45 kilometers west of downtown Hanoi, still preserves many of its historical and cultural features. It boasts 956 ancient houses, including those built in 1649, 1703 and around 1850.

Though there are many entrances to the village, the Mong Phu Gate remains a popular starting point for tourists. This is reportedly the only ancient village gate left intact in northern Vietnam.

Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

The Mong Phu communal house is the heart of the village and village life. Legend has it that it was built on the forehead of a dragon in 1684 under the reign of King Le Hien Tong in the shape of a capital "I." The stately building hosts public events, festivities and meetings.

Amongst tens of thousands of Vietnamese villages, Duong Lam is the first to be recognized as a national architectural heritage site.

Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

An elderly woman tosses rice on a flat bamboo basket to remove tailings from rice grains.

In Duong Lam, most young people have moved to big cities and industrial hubs to earn their living, while the older villagers stay at home and live mainly on rice cultivation.

Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

Old women in the village still preserve the long-standing custom of chewing betel with areca nuts.

In Vietnam, the custom of offering betel and areca is said to date back to the reign of the Hung Kings. It is associated with the “Legend of Betel and Areca” about a wife's fidelity to her husband and the love between two twin brothers; therefore, the custom symbolizes love, brotherhood, family, and happiness.

Younger Vietnamese no longer chew betel and it is a habit dying out.

Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

An elderly couple prepare to make soy sauce, a skill that has been passed through generations.

In the past every household in the village used to make and store jars of soy sauce to use all year round. Today they also sell the condiment to outsiders.

It is made with glutinous rice, salt, soybean and water. The villagers say the sauce is especially delicious if made with rainwater.

Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

The villagers always make their soy sauce in May and June thanks to favorable weather conditions.

Women or men stirring huge earthen cauldrons containing tuong are a common sight. Tuong is a popular dipping sauce in northern Vietnamese countryside and is also used as a condiment for cooking.

Committing to posterity a time when time stood still

Villagers are at their busiest during the rice harvest season.

 
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