Culture Culture

23/10/2021 - 09:17

Thai Kim Lan’s cultural space for the community

A beautiful place with a well-known ancient house in Kim Long area is being turned by Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan into a cultural address with her desire to pass on cultural values to next generations.

The Thai family house becomes a place for cultural exchanges

Ancient Hue

Located by the poetic Perfume river, Thai Kim Lan’s family house at 120 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen St., Hue City gives visitors a feeling of peacefulness and light-heartedness. The green ancient nha ruong (beam house) with trees and flowers is for those who want to return to ancient Hue.  

A private museum will be established.

Behind the fading wooden gate is an ancient space in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city outside. The residence facing the Perfume river is a complex of three-compartment-two-wing constructions which conform to the rule of Feng-Shui. Inside the houses are couches, cabinets, hoanh phi (horizontal lacquered boards), cau doi (parallel lines), etc., which are the embodiment of the golden past. Ancient Hue looks rustic but delicate.

“I feel at peace when I visit Thai Kim Lan’s ancient house. I see mossy beam houses and the hundred-year-old souvenirs. The house is surrounded with trees and pervaded with the fragrance of lotuses. I see ancient Hue in the bowl of che sen (sweet dish with lotus seeds) and delicate vegetarian dishes. I really didn’t want to leave,” said Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet with emotion.

Thai Kim Lan’s collection of pottery

At that wonderful place, Hue culture lovers have been able to attend Trinh Cong Son music show, Pham Duy music show, ao dai exhibitions or poetry exchanges. Those were opportunities for people to exchange ideas and voice their opinions with no lectures. Those who love music could sing.

Returning from Germany after many years abroad, Prof. Lan spent several years cleaning and renovating the house. She meticulously picked up tiles, wooden pieces, broken earthen pots, then arranged them with care and in an aesthetic manner.

“I created this space first of all for cultural purposes. People can come and feel part of Hue and what the family life in Hue was like in the past, including the living space as well as the space for art creation,” said Prof. Lan.

Thai Kim Lan organizes cultural and art exchange programs here in the Western style with informal conversations about costume, music, poetry, etc. 

Dong Kinh Traditional Music Group from Hanoi and Du Ca Group from Ho Chi Minh City used to visit and perform at this place. They liked the place very much and intended to cooperate to give a music show together when the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

A private museum will be established

In addition to cultural and art exchanges, Prof. Lan’s family house surprises people with more than 5,000 ancient pottery artifacts which she has been collecting for over 30 years now. The jars and pots dating from pre-Sa Huynh, Sa Huynh, Champa, Dai Viet from under the Perfume river are embodiments of culture and history.

According to Thai Kim Lan, the thousands of pottery artifacts from the Perfume river help shape this land and reflect its history. They themselves have stories to tell, helping us understand more about the history and culture of this land. 

Thai Kim Lan and her elder brother, the deceased painter Thai Nguyen Ba, have fallen in love with pottery from the Perfume river since 1984. Over the past 30 years, they have collected thousands of precious artifacts among tens of thousands of items from the river.

“Their collection is not only precious but also very beautiful, including ones made of crockery, pottery, semi-porcelain, porcelain, representing almost all historical periods. Recently for some special reasons, researcher Ho Tan Phan’s some valuable pottery artifacts have been added to this collection, making it even more valuable,” said Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Department of Culture and Sports.

Thai Kim Lan is trying to make Ho Tan Phan’s and Thai Nguyen Ba’s dreams come true; it is to establish a museum of pottery from the Perfume river. The collection has been classified and inventoried. The Thai family house is a suitable place because it is next to the river and large enough for the collection. 

“In addition to the pottery museum, I intend to build another exhibition space for ao dai and a theatre for chamber music, (if my land is returned,) turning this place into a cultural complex for the community. My desire is for young people to be able to see the values of the heritage left by our ancestry. They then develop their interest in studying about Hue heritage. This museum is a place to recreate and transmit culture, but not for display only,” confided Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan.

Story and photos: Minh Hien

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