The Tran Family Home

by Global Directions Inc., Oct 1, 1997 | Destinations: Vietnam / Hanoi

The Tran Family Home, 21 Le Loi Street, Hoi An

One hundred ninety-five years ago, in 1802, the Tran family ancestor house of worship was built by a mandarin of civil service named Tran Tu Nhac. He was a talented person whom King Gia Long trusted. At the end of 1802, the king appointed Tran Tu Nhac along with several others to be ambassadors to China. Prior to his trip, Tran Tu Nhac wanted to leave something for his future offspring as well as to show his gratitude to his ancestors. Today, the family still keeps his relics such as swords and seals in their traditional home.

The architecture of the house is beautiful. It is located inside a big garden and bordered by high fences of Japanese and Chinese style architecture. The house is divided into two parts: the main part serves as a place for worship; the auxiliary one is for the family and guest residence. The worship room has three doors, the two side doors are reserved for male and female members (left side is for men and the right side is for women and the center is for grandparents and only opened at Tet or on festival days). The living quarters and worship room are divided by a timber slate divider. This was used as a block, aimed to remind people to lower their heads to kowtow when entering. In the back of the house is a high mold of earth called the "native birth place".

Family members often come to visit their ancestors when they wish to ask for their support. There are small boxes on the main altar table, arranged in order and each holding a relic and biography of one deceased person, carved in Chinese characters. The position of each timber box depends on the social level of the person to whom it belongs. During festivals, family heads open these boxes and all family members come to remember their ancestors. On a certain day of the year, all members gather together and burn incense both as their duty and in thanks. The family meeting takes place in the big garden in front of the house which is good for all to spend time with each other and strengthen their existing relationships.

The family now makes the home open to tourists so they may have a glimpse of the well-preserved architecture of the town.