Ancient relic stages xoan singing

Hung Lo communal house, a centuries-old historical and cultural relic in Phu Tho province, has become a popular tourist site after it was selected to be the stage of xoan singing, a world intangible cultural heritage of humanity. 

A special relic

Located about 10km west of the Hung Temple, Hung Lo communal house in Hung Lo village is a historical and cultural relic complex dating back to more than 300 years ago.

Hung Lo communal house was believed to be where the Hung King took a rest during an excursion. The local people then built a shrine to worship the king. During the dynasty of King Le Hy Tong (1697), the communal house was built facing Nghia Linh mountain.

Built on a 500m2 area, the communal house has kept, almost intact, its architectural structure and historical and cultural values after numerous historical changes.

Old Hung Lo communal house is a perfect stage for xoan singing.

The ancient communal house has become a popular tourist destination.

. Young singers from An Thai xoan singing club at a rehearsal before a performance at Hung Lo communal house.

The house consists of the Front Ceremonial Hall (Nha tien te), the Great Hall (Dai dinh), the Middle Hall (Phuong dinh), the bell tower and the drum tower. They were all built from precious wood such as ironwood, lauan meranti, apitong and Markhamia stipulata. The traces of time on Hung Lo communal house can be seen from its mossy terracotta roof and its old entrance gate.

Hung Lo communal house is regarded as a miniature cultural museum where valuable ancient artifacts are kept. The antiques include worship objects such as incense burners, brass cranes and lamps; and pairs of wood panels inscribed with parallel sentences praising the merit of the Hung King and the homeland’s natural landscapes. The communal house also has four palanquins for the procession of written prayers to gods and an eight-bearer palanquin for god’s procession dating back to the 17th century in the later Le dynasty.

Place to preserve xoan singing

With its architectural, cultural and historical values, Hung Lo communal house has been selected by Phu Tho province to be one of the destinations in a tour to the ancestral land called “Xoan singing in an ancient village”. At this program, visitors can enjoy xoan singing performances by folk artists from Phu Tho’s four original xoan singing guilds of Phu Duc, Kim Thoi, Thet and An Thai.

The “Xoan singing in an ancient village” program was officially launched in 2018 after a pilot period of six years, which turned Hung Lo communal house into a unique stage of xoan singing.

Foreign tourists join xoan singers in a performance.

Phu Tho included xoan singing as a tourist product in its tourism development plan in 2015.

Xoan singers offer liquor to visitors during a performance.

A visitor tries a xoan dance during a xoan singing performance.

In the special space of a three-century-old temple, visitors are enchanted by beautiful xoan melodies and dances performed by locals who were born and raised in An Thai, one of the cradles of xoan singing in Phu Tho. Visitors also have a chance to talk with xoan singers and learn how to sing xoan songs from An Thai folk artists.

Hung Lo is now the top destination in Phu Tho for foreign tourists wishing to experience xoan singing performances, hosting tens of thousands of visitors annually.

Story Bich Van – Photos: Cong Dat