Stilt houses: The soul of Tay ethnic people in Bac Kan
Update: Nov 03, 2023
Located in the core area of Kim Hy Nature Reserve, Kim Hy Commune, Na Ri District, is one of the few localities in Bac Kan Province in which ancient stilt houses of the Tay people have been well preserved.

Kim Hy Commune is now home to 123 traditional stilt houses of Tay ethnic group

The local Tay people protect their stilt houses as if they are preserving their soul. The houses, which are tiled with yin and yang tiles, stand side by side at the foot of Phja Cam Mountain facing the peaceful Ban Than fields, protecting many generations of Tay people.

According to statistics from the Kim Hy Commune People's Committee, the commune is now home to 123 traditional stilt houses, most of which are located in the villages of Ban Ven, Ban Ke, Ban Vin, and Kim Van. Many of the houses are between 50 and 200 years old.

Nguyen Duy Am, 88, is the owner of an over-200-year-old ancient stilt house. According to him, the Tay people believe that the stilt house is not only a place to reside, but also contains the cultural identity of their ethnic group.

Am's stilt house covers a total area of 150 sq.m, with 4 main compartments, 1 side room, and two lean-tos.

In the middle of the stilt house is a square fire (Photo:

In the middle of the house is a square fire while a cupboard containing dishes, food, rice, wine, pots and pans, and spices runs along the right side of the house.

The empty space between the altar and the fire is considered a sacred place of the house.

The house also has bedrooms, a living room, and a storehouse to preserve food. There are seven staircases leads from the ground to the inhabited floor.

In Am’s house, four generations of the family live together happily.

The traditional stilt house has an airy and cosy atmosphere, and keeps the owners warm in winter and cool in summer. It is a hosting venue for families to gather together during holidays and festivals.

Am's house is a witness of time. Together with the house, Am has welcomed many family members and witnessed his children and grandchildren being born and growing up.

Nguyen Duy Vat, a villager in Ban Ven, has preserved and promoted Then folk singing and lullabies of the Tay ethnic people.

Whenever a house in the area holds a baby's first month celebration, Vat is invited to sing Tay's lullabies, which is believed to convey good wishes for the baby.

The lyrics nourish the child's soul throughout childhood and life. No matter how far they go, the lullabies will tell them the way home.

Kim Van Village is 7km far from Ban Ven Village. The village is also home to many traditional ancient stilt houses, including those owned by families of Nguyen Thi Met and Nong Thiem Tiem, which were built in 1936 and 1946, respectively.

According to head of the village Dinh Duy Thai, Kim Van Village currently has 66 households, including 20 ancient stilt houses which are still well-preserved.

Hoang Minh Nhuan, a cultural officer in Kim Hy Commune, said that Tay people in the commune are aware of preserving their traditional stilt houses, thus contributing to protecting and upholding the time-honoured traditional culture of their ethic group.

Huong Ly - Translated by NDO

NDO - - November 2nd, 2023