Built nearly 200 years ago, Tan Ky Old House is one of several oldest houses in Hoi An–Hue. Retaining unique features in the interior decoration and objects from ancient times, the old house is recognized as a national historical-cultural relic in Vietnam tours.
The unique architecture of Tan Ky old house
Tan Ky Old House, also known as Old House of Tan Ky, is an ingenious combination of 3 architectural styles, namely Vietnam, Japan, and China. The old house was built in the late-18th century with the first purpose of business, and agricultural product trade. Tan Ky Old House, the first old house in Hoi An Old Town together with Cau Pagoda and Fukian Assembly Hall was recognized as cultural-historical relics in 1985 by Ministry of Culture. Despite undergoing much fluctuations, Tan Ky still retains almost intact values on architecture and culture.
When having built the house, Kim Bong carpenters perfectly coordinated three ancient architectural styles of Vietnam – Japan – China. The first pavilion is designed 3 small apartments inside in accordance with traditional Vietnamese architecture with the yin-yang tile-covered roof. It is also a highlight of the whole house with a series of trusses, rafters sophisticatically carved with intricate shapes: pumpkins, mailboxes, bats, and ribbons. These carvings hide their own symbolic significance… Japanese architectural style is evident in the structure of the old house; meanwhile Chinese architecture is shown in “crab shell” rafters. Arch architecture with the ribbon wrapping around two swords is characteristic of ancient Chinese people.
The house strongly represents features of Oriental philosophy, such as the triple-beam structure (stands for heaven, earth and humans), the five-round blocks (represent metal, wood, water, fire and earth – the five basic natural elements in Eastern philosophy) and several decorative carvings on the edge of the roof and furniture. Among several pieces in the house, the most famous ones are two vertical panels next to the central courtyard, which is inscribed with parallel sentences. What surprising about this piece is that each stroke of writing is an illustration of a bird. One hundred birds in total represent perfection.
Tan Ky Old House bearing tubular architecture is the typical architecture of the ancient town. It is divided into many smaller apartments with its own functions. None of them supports any windows. However, unlike other pipe-shaped houses in new urban zones in Vietnam, ancient houses in Hoi An have no stifling feelings, thanks to the ventilation in the frontispiece, side rear, and skylight. In particular, the most impressive architecture in the Old House of Tan Ky is the construction without the use of any tacks.
Tan Ky is also a unique old house in Hue welcoming leaders of Vietnam and international countries to visit: General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, President Tran Duc Luong, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, General Secretary – President of China Jiang Zemin (Giang Trach Dan), President of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra… It is also one of a few houses remaining intact architectures and being the most beautiful in Vietnam today. Apart from materials of wood, bricks, and stones used in details like the floor, exterior decoration, and walls, which were brought from Bat Trang, Thanh Hoa, Non-Nuoc…, the house especially retains a durable stone floor over time.
Ancient Hoi An Hoi An House – an ideal place for tourists
Tan Ky Old House is still open to domestic and foreign tourists to visit daily. Stepping into the house, tourists will actually feel friendly and pleasant. The interior wood planks and the brick-built exterior make the house cool in summer and warm in winter. In addition, tourists also have a chance to be told about extremely valuable family heirlooms. They are “unique” antiquities and its story truly makes tourists astonished. Antiques to mention first are the cup of Confucius. When pouring water into the cup about 80%, the water level will remain.
However, if filling it, the water in the cup will flow out through a small hole at the bottom. The cup seems to be an ethics preachifying persons to restrain their own behavior and always keep their mind in balance, not excessiveness. Additionally, Tan Ky Old House is still home to numerous antiques, such as cups, plates, antique ceramic vases dating back hundreds of years. There is also the appearance of the great number of antiques in wood such as tables, chairs inlaid with mother of pearl, horizontal board, cabinet.
Tan Ky Old House Hoi An, as well as other numerous architectural works, have contributed to the overall architecture of Hoi An enriching; simultaneously, diversifies Hoi An tourism. It is gradually an important tourist attraction in Hue on architectural beauty. The old house was recognized as a World Natural Heritage by UNESCO. Taking a visit to Tan Ky Old House, tourists will have the opportunity to ascertain much more about typical architectures in building Hoi An commercial port which was once flourished.
With historical and cultural values still preserved, Tan Ky ancient house is not only a relic; but also construction and become a part of the life of Hoi An ancient people. Don’t miss the most beautiful old house in Hue.