“Dong Da used to be a battlefield/ Corpses of invaders piled up into mound”
The above verse of poem has engraved on memory of each Vietnamese native because they talks about evidence of a glorious phase of Vietnamese history. It highlights merit of national hero Quang Trung-Nguyen Hue who defeated Qing invaders in the Spring of 1789, the Year of Chicken, with triumphal Dong Da-Ngoc Hoi Victory (in the 5th day of Vietnamese Lunar Year), liberating Thang Long Citadel (present-day Hanoi).
Statue of Quang Trung at Dong Da Mound
In 1989, Dong Da Park was established at Dong Da Mound in Ha Noi in the 200th commemoration of Ngoc Hoi-Dong Da Victory. It was built on basis of Decision No. 2308 QÐ-UB dated 12th May 1990 by People’s Committee of Ha Noi City. This is a cultural-historical work to memorize merit of the peasanthero Quang Trung-Nguyen Hue. The work covers an area of 21,745 square metres, deviding into two zones for a santuary place, a museum and the mound surrounding, etc.
The first 15,200-m2 zone has a statue of Quang Trung-Nguyen Hue King, two relievos, a museum…
If entering the park from Dang Tien Dong Street, visitors will see the majestic statue of Quang Trung – Nguyen Hue King wearing a sword in his shoulder. The statue is 14.65 metres in height and 200 tons in weight. It is made of reinforced concrete, covered with marble and coated with bronze. At the foot of the statue, locates a moulded bronze censer in a vast marble-paved stage with a lot of surrounding trees and grasses. The left wing of the statue is 17 metres high.
Behind the statue, there are two relievos. The relievo on the right is 30 metres long and 4.5 metres wide (covering an area of 135m2). The relievo on the left is 17 metres long and 4.5 metres wide (covering an area of 77.4 m2). The two relievos depicts the battle of Vietnamese people and army at that time under talented leadership of Quang Trung King. His troops were deployed to Thang Long Citadel in a surprising lightning speed and quickly liberated the citadel in the Year of Chicken 1789. The image of the strong army troops in the relievos reminds us of their magnanimous spirit. On the other sides of the two relievos, there is proclaimation by Quang Trung, a battle map and a bronze seal, etc. All the subjects give a holy impression to the santuary place where festivals and cultural activities are organized every year.
The 100-m2 museum locates behind the santuary place. There are two reproduced cannons outside the museum. At the door of the museum stands a set of ancient sickle-shape weapons with long handles. A mock-up of Ngoc Hoi- Dong Da battle. A gypsum statue of Quang Trung is on the right and a statue of Commander-in-chief Long is on the left next to Gong sets of highland ethnic minorities. On the right wall of the museum, there are pictures of Vuon Trau (BetelGarden), Tay Son Nhat Hamlet, shrine of three Tay Son brothers, Go Lang,etc. Then comes a annals tree of Ho Family which is above a restored headstone of Ho forefather. A mock-up of Dai Hieu boat, a big size battle boat with strong fire-power of Tay Son troops, is displayed behind the shrine.
At the left wing of the museum, there is display of Tay Son-time weapons such as cannons, and sword of Bui Thi Xuan female General, autograph of Quang Trung’s royal decrees and imperial orders. In addition, the museum still keeps some items such as a rock of laterite for building of Emperor Citadel in 1778, a rock of communal house in Kien My Village, hometown of the three Tay Son brothers, etc. “The museum preserves many important evidences of Tay Son Movement in Thang Long Citadel. A lot of visitors come here, particularly on occasion of festival in the beginning of the lunar new year. In some recent years, several schools at the locality have organized historical study tours for their pupils in order to enhance awareness of the young generations about Vietnamese history” says Ms. Bui Hoang Hau, officer of the museum.
Looking the ancient but solid museum with its pervading meditative environment of a golden historical age, the visitors may partly feel the suscess of the uprising by the peasant soldiers.
The three-door temple gate to Dong Da Mound
Dong Da Mound
In the great battle against the Qing aggressors, Commander-in-chief Long was entrusted with task to attack Khuong Thuong enemy military post. Being assaulted unpredictably, the Qing troops couldn’t resist. Enemy leader Shen Yi-Dongrun away with a handful of defeated army remnants in panic. They fell in their last shift at Loa Son (Dong Da Mound) and killed themselves all. Local people built a grave for the enemy. Dong Da Mound has been born since then.
The mound now covers an area of 6,275 m2 including the grave. Main gate to the mound locates along Tay Son Street. Going into the mound from Tay Son Street direction, the visitors will see a three-door temple gate on which there are 3 words “TrungLietTemple”. Ms. Bui Hoang Hau states that there was a temple on top of the mound. Vietnamese people built it to worship the war dead. Unfortunately, the temple doesn’t exist now.
The visitors can step up to the mound along lanes or stone staircases rather than through the three-door temple gate. At present, there are some century-old trees. According to some old people living near the mound, some of them were planted in the 1960s when Uncle Ho started a campain of tree planting on occasion of Traditional Lunar New Year Tet Festival. Two jackfruit trees, the common tree in Vietnamese temples, pogodas or communal houses, are also found there.
In 1990, a 8-ton stele on which bears a famous proclaimation of Quang Trung King (Combatting the enemy so that all know the southern country has its own sovereignty) was erected on the top of the mound. All the visitors can read the proclaimation if they reach the top of the mound. Each of the visitors may has their own feeling but shares same pride of the history written by the ancestors. Many foreign visitors find surprised at the mound in centre of Hanoi capital. After being explained, they all show more admiration towards heroic Vietnamese people.
At present, because of being eroded by the nature, the mound is about 10 metre high, much lower than it was. Although the mound is just part of Dong Da Cultural Park, people have tendency to call it Dong Da Mound because that name has been engraved on memory of each Vietnamese person.
In the 5th of the lunar first month every year, people from all conners of the country gather at the place to organize Dong Da victory’s annirversary and resurrect Tay Son spirit. Many activities are held: thurible ceremony, play of Quang Trung King battle’s against the Qing aggressors, play of the triumphant march into Thang Long Citadel, etc. All people feel very happy and proud of Vietnamese ancestors.
Leaving Dong Da Mound in late of an afternoon, I feel noises of Hanoi city as if cries of the Tay Son victorious army. I promise with myself to attend Dong Da victory’s anniversary again in this coming spring.
Translated by To Uyen