Lac Thi communal house – an evidence of Hanoi’s glorious history

(VOVWORLD) - Lac Thi communal house is one of a number of ancient communal houses in Hanoi. The house is dedicated to To Hien Thanh – a great mandarin of the late 11th and early 12th century. 

To Hien Thanh was both a scholar and a warrior who was upright, public-spirited, selfless, and devoted himself in helping King Ly Cao Tong, who ascended to the throne at a young age, defeat foreign invaders and rule the nation. Thanh and his wife, a Lac Thi villager named La Thi Dung, are considered tutelary gods by local residents and are worshiped at a communal house built in the 17th century in Lac Thi village, Ngoc Hoi commune on the outskirts of Hanoi.

Lac Thi communal house is closely associated with a victory of Quang Trung-Nguyen Hue and Tay Son soldiers over the Chinese Qing army. In 1789, Nguyen Hue, who later was proclaimed King Quang Trung, led his guerilla forces from the central region to Hanoi and sheltered at Lac Thi communal house before carrying out a surprise attack against Qing soldiers at Ngoc Hoi station, where several enemy generals were killed. Then they crushed Khuong Thuong station, also occupied by Qing invaders, and forced their general to hang himself near Dong Da hill. This victory paved the way for King Quang Trung and his troops to enter Thang Long citadel on the 5th day of the lunar year. During the French and American resistance wars, Lac Thi communal house became a shelter for Vietnamese cadres and an arsenal of a rocket battalion defending south Hanoi.

Nguyen Huu Tai, a leader of Ngoc Hoi commune, said: “Lac Thi communal house is a national relic. Ancient documents describe this house as a symbol of patriotism. Ngoc Hoi authorities often hold meetings here to teach young people about the revolutionary traditions of Vietnam and Ngoc Hoi commune.”

The communal house consists of a three-door gate, a well, a front hall, and a rear chamber. The well has a small islet completely covered by bonsais. The complex is intricately decorated with dragon, phoenix, and peach blossom patterns. At the middle of the front hall is a large incense table carved with patterns of flowers and the four sacred animals (dragon, unicorn, tortoise, and phoenix). In the rear chamber, there are two altars placed next to 2 statues of men kneeling down.  

Over the years, Lac Thi communal house has been upgraded to be a place for of religious and cultural activities involving residents of Lac Thi and nearby villages. Local administrators have worked hard to preserve and promote Lac Thi communal house.

Nguyen Ngoc Kien, Chairman of Ngoc Hoi commune’s People’s Committee, told VOV: “The preservation and restoration of Lac Thi communal house involves the Buddhist Sangha and managers of adjacent pagodas and villages. Protecting its cultural values is a top priority each time the house is repaired.”

The communal house preserves 15 royal documents conferring titles to high-ranking mandarins and a number of horizontal lacquer boards, and parallel sentences. The complex of Lac Thi communal house and pagoda, which typifies the architecture of the Le and Nguyen dynasties, was recognized as a national cultural and historical relic in 1990.

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