Old buildings and old stories

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The Nom Bridge with nine spans has not outlived its usefulness for locals

The Nom Village is more than a typical village although it has all the needed features, including a village square, a big tree at the entrance and a bridge with nine spans.

Located 30-km east of Hanoi, the village in Hung Yen Province's Dai Dong Commune, Van Lam District, is renowned for its old architectural structures, beautiful natural scenery and traditional customs usually found in rural areas of the north.

But what makes Nom Village really special is a patriarchal custom that applied Confucian tenets literally.

In the past, girls in the village had to quit school when they were 16 and start doing business to make money for their husbands so then could get a good education and become government officials.

When the girls got married, they had to offer to the village 20 trays of copper or build a few dozen meters of red brick road.

Considering its geographic features, Nom Village is a complete complex with a village gate, a village pond, old houses, a market and seven ancestral worshipping houses. The nine-span bridge in the village crosses the Nguyet Duc River and allows people from the other bank access the Nom Market.

The bridge, made of big rocks, has for long facilitated travel and transportation of goods in the area.

In front of the weather-beaten old market is the Nom Pagoda and a huge cotton tree. Legend has it that the pagoda was in the midst of a pine tree forest when it was first built in 1680 during the Le Dynasty. It was very famous as the biggest pagoda in the north. It still hosts more than 100 old statuettes.

 
The gate to Nom Village in Hung Yen Province's Van Lam District

Adding to its reputation of a village with many highly educated people, Nom acquired fame for a somewhat unlikely vocation scrap trading. The village was so well-known for the trade that an old folk song said: "For crap metal just go to Cau Nom"¦"

The village today has more than 10 houses a few hundred years old, the most prominent of which belongs to Ta Van Long. It was built almost 200 years ago. Its wooden columns and beams bear elaborate designs and carvings, testifying to the village's prosperity centuries ago.

Now, under the influence of modernization and urbanization, Nom Village is changing every day. The village pond has turned dark green and clear waters are just a memory; old houses are vanishing to make room for high-rise blocks. The Nom Pagoda's most valuable possessions are the horizontal lacquered boards.

The village gate and the rock bridge with nine spans still remain unchanged, but the fate of the old village is uncertain. Everything depends on the awareness shown by each villager and the willingness to act on it.

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