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Traditional handicraft village colours Hanoi’s cultural tapestry

Nobody knows when Mai Dong Village was established, but the archeological evidence tells us that people were living in the village when the ancient Thang Long citadel was built 1000 years ago.

In the village, historical buildings such as the Mai Dong Communal House, the traditional craft village, and ancient pagodas all hundreds years old, are still standing and used.

Most prominent is the temple built in honor of General Tam Trinh, who was a leader in the Hai Ba Trung uprising against the northern invaders. Dong Vat Hill, where General Tam Trinh and his troops practiced martial arts, has spurred up the local spirit and the Mai Dong Martial Art Festival has become a national event, held every year on the fourth day of the first Lunar month. The festival is held in memory of General Tam Trinh and inspires the martial arts spirit in everyone. The festival is closely connected with the daily lives and religion of the villagers.

Mai Dong Village was once an agricultural village located on hollow land. Local people grew rice, maize and soybeans and for many years, local people have been famous for their soya sauce "Tuong" and tofu, known as "Mo tofu".

In 1982, Mai Dong village became Mai Dong ward, which encompasses an area of one hectare and is home to 16,000 people.

"During the renewal process, Hanoi is changing every day," said vice chairman of Mai Dong Village Dinh Van Long. "The rural area is also changing with high rise buildings replacing old single story houses. Local people’s lives have also been improved, but, more importantly, the Mai Dong villagers still hold on to their traditional culture and crafts, especially their way of making Mo tofu. In addition, many new crafts have been established and developed."

About 200 households in the village are involved in making Mo tofu, which is sold in Hanoi and neighbouring markets. Due to the drastic changes that come with the urbanisation process, the face of the village has changed considerably, however some characteristics of an ancient village can still be found in Mai Dong. During the New Year season, the village gets pretty exciting with the spring martial arts and singing festivals and colourful processions.

VOV - (24/10/2005)

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