The northern border province of Lang Son is the home to 7 ethnic groups, which has long been famous for traditional houses called “trinh tuong” of the Tay and Nung people.
The districts of Dinh Lap, Loc Binh, Cao Loc, Van Lang… of Lang Son province are known for having many “trinh tuong” houses. This type of house has been preserved for a very long time, as they are associated with the customs and habits of the Tay and Nung ethnic groups.
The Tay and Nung ethnic minorities in Lang Son created the ‘trinh tuong’ houses using clay mixed with mud that is shaped using frames and pounded to the desired stickiness.
They Tay people have two techniques of building “trinh tuong” houses. For the houses totally built with earth, the clay is selected and compressed into frames to make the walls. For the second type, molds are used to make bricks from the clay to build the houses, but unlike the construction of modern houses, clay is also used as the glue and mortar.
Choosing the area to erect the houses is the most difficult. According to feng shui of the Tay people, the houses must face south and lean on the mountain, like the houses of the Kinh ethnic people.
Most importantly, the place where the houses are built must have many trees, preferably old trees, because according to the long-standing experience of the Tay and Nung people such an area will never erode.
The construction of a “trinh tuong” house with one floor requires very high skills. The most difficult steps are consolidating the foundation and building the pillars of the houses. For the foundation, the stones must be tightly placed to ensure its firmness and force-resistance. The four power-resistant pillars at the corners of the house must also be reinforced with stones before the walls are made.
The walls of a good Trinh tuong house are waterproof in the rainy season. To make the walls which are waterproof even on consecutive rainy days, the step of compressing the clay must be done carefully and meticulously.
“Trinh tuong” houses are warm in winter and cool in summer. They are resistant to the wind and heat. The sole defect of the houses is that they are often moldy because of the dampness in the rainy season. To solve this problem, Tay and Nung people erect a cooking fire in the middle of the house to warm themselves and prevent the mold. The smoke from the fire clings to the walls, making the houses look old and mossy.
|Huu Khanh commune in Loc Binh district is the home to many trinh tuong houses of around 100 years old.|
|A trinh tuong house in Khuat Xa commune, Loc Binh district.|
|Inside a trinh tuong house in Dinh Lap district.|
|Many villages of Tay and Nung ethnic people in Dinh Lap district still preserve trinh tuong houses.|
|A trinh tuong house.|
|The kitchen inside a trinh tuong house in Po Kit hamlet, Khuat Xa commune, Loc Binh district.|
|The traditional costumes of Tay and Nung women in Lang Son are not as colorful as the costumes of other ethnic groups in Vietnam.|
Le Anh Dung
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