Discover Vietnamese Houses and Homes: Nha Ruong in Hue and central provinces

The number of “Nha Ruong”, once among the architectural trademarks of the formal imperial capital of Hue, is dwindling as the years go by.
April 12, 2011 - PRLog -- April 2011
Besides Hue, Nha Ruong – hand made traditional wooden houses – can also be found in other central provinces such as Quang Nam, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai, Quang Binh and even Vietnam’s southwestern region.
But they are still very much associated with the old imperial capital.
Defining a style of living that is the essence of Hue, Nha Ruong is believed to have first appeared between 300 an 400 years ago. They have been part of the city’s culture for centuries, and in the past were used as home by both local residents and royalty.
Some people believe that Nha Ruong first originated in northern Vietnam, as wooden stilt houses of the Muong ethnic people in Nghe An and Thanh Hoa provinces, and headed south with migration during the 14th and 15th centuries.
There are a few reasons why this may be the case. Most native Hue residents have roots in Nghe An and Thanh Hoa, as their ancestors were believed to have migrated to the central region in the 14th and 15th centuries. The late Professor Tu Chi, concluded that the cuisine of native Hue residents contain strong similarities to those from the ancient Muong ethnic people.
According to historical documents, Nha Ruong in Hue are not just wooden houses. They are a complex structure that also include a Nha Vuon ( Garden House); another integral part of distinctive Hue culture. Nha Ruong Hue are often situated on the spacious piece of land, studded with decorative fences or rows of neatly cut Chinese tea trees. Most householders prefer more space for the garden.
One may wonder why Nha Ruong Hue must always feature a garden?
We have to remember that as the former imperial city, Hue was the cultural and economic centre of Vietnam a glamorous citadel and palaces; it was understandable that the local elite chose to live in a dwelling that includes both a house and a garden, for living and relaxation.
Nha Ruong Hue was also built to adapt to Hue’s hot, wet, and windy weather: small in size, relying on rows of columns with dove-tailed joints to permit easy removal.
Many Nha Ruong have a sloping tile roof, to cope with the rainy season, which is actually four roofs, made of double tile or other types. The tiles are placed tightly, helping the house retain its structural integrity.
Nha Ruong are constructed based on eatern philosophies, which holds that all things originate from a single source and expand in all directions, this is why before constructing a Nha Ruong, the owner must first determine the center point, which establishes the location of other parts of the house and their direction.
Vietnam is undergoing fast-paced development and Hue is no exception. With such development and rapid urbanization, Nha Ruong and Nha Vuon Hue are on the verge of disappearing. More efforts must be made to preserve these precious elements of Hue culture.
Keywords: Nha Ruong, Hue, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Nha Vuon Hue, native Hue, northern Vietnam, style of living, historical documents, traditional wooden houses, central provinces
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