Covered Bridge (Chua Cau) – the soul of Hoi An heritage
Built in the early 17th century with unique architecture, Covered Bridge is considered a symbol, the soul of the heritage of the ancient town of Hoi An.
Chua Cau is an ancient bridge connecting Tran Phu and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai streets, located in the southwest of Hoi An ancient town, Hoi An city, Quang Nam province. The project crosses a small creek leading to the Hoai River.
The bridge was originally built by Japanese merchants around the middle of the 16th century, so it is also called the Japanese bridge. According to legend, the work is a shelter for Cu – a sea monster with a head in India, a body in Vietnam and a tail in Japan; Every time the tick moves, it causes floods and earthquakes in these places.
In fact, in addition to the function of traffic and belief, the bridge was formerly a meeting point and a place to arbitrate disputes in trade in the commercial port of Hoi An.
In 1653, on the northern side of the bridge, a pagoda was added, making the construction site T-shaped; So the bridge is called Chua Cau. In 1719, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu visited Hoi An, named the bridge “Lai Vien Kieu”, which means “The bridge welcomes guests from afar”. According to the date recorded on the roof beam and the inscription left at the bridgehead, the bridge was rebuilt in 1817.
Cau Pagoda is about 18 m long, about 3 m wide; has mixed architecture of Japan, China, and Vietnam. The structure of the bridge according to the plan consists of 3 main parts, which are 2 parts of the bridgehead and the body of the bridge in the middle. Each bridgehead on both sides is built of bricks, including 3 spans, the middle bridge has 5 spans placed on brick pillars plugged into the water. All frame systems of the building are made of wood, with 3 roof systems corresponding to 3 bridge sections.
In the middle of the bridge is the entrance to the Temple. It’s called a pagoda, but in fact, this place does not worship Buddha, but worships the North Deity Tran Vu – a god who specializes in treating storms and floods, protecting the country, bringing joy and happiness to people according to Chinese beliefs. .
Above the entrance to the altar, there is a signboard with the words “Lai Vien Kieu”. Under the sign there are two doors, a bold architectural detail of Hoi An.
The wooden frame systems are modulated according to the curved shape of the bridge (photo). Initially, the wooden frames were painted with vermilion, but over time, the color has faded.
Covered Bridge has undergone many restorations, in 1817, 1865, 1915, 1986, many of the original Japanese architectural features have disappeared.
On some trusses, roof diaphragms are embossed with Chinese characters. In addition, in the Covered Bridge, there are many stone steles recording the history of the project and Hoi An.
The roof of the building is roofed with yin and yang tiles, with sophisticated decorative details on the roof and river banks. Especially, there are blue-glazed ceramics inlaid on the roof.
The two ends of the bridge have statues of monkeys – linguists (right) and dogs – tengu (left). These are considered two mascots guarding and guarding the Covered Bridge, solemnly worshiped.
The origin of these two mascots is unknown. It is theorized that monkeys and dogs represent the time of bridge construction, which ranges from the year of the monkey to the year of the dog.
Covered Bridge is really the most valuable cultural and architectural heritage in Hoi An, considered a symbol, the soul of heritage as well as an attractive tourist destination.
Currently, the building is being degraded by the impact of time and natural disasters. The People’s Committees of Quang Nam province and Hoi An city have established a project to restore the work in a general way, which is expected to start construction in the near future.
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