Following the discoveries and initial researches on Pu Chia Chua and Pu Tre architectural relics, the Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism allowed Yen Bai Museum to excavate Pu Tre relic.
Pu Tre is an architectural remains located in O village, Phu Nham commune, Van Chan district, Yen Bai province, inside Muong Lo rice field and Thia river, facing Bu and Dong mountain in 1000m high to the east, and 13km far from the downtown of Van Chan district to the north, and 3km from Nghia Lo town to the south.
Foundation in the north
Before 1974, during cultivation, people found a number of blue rock blocks and they had kept for themselves. In particular, since 1990, under the policy of the government that gave people land and forest, many old architectural relics were discovered, however, they were found in serious damaged.
After clearing the floral layer that covered the area, the site appeared on a quite plain surface, with two layers of foundation. The upper foundation is higher the lower 0,6m, in 300m2. The lower foundation has an area of 1.300m2. Surrounding them founding the existence of the pebbles. 16 holes were excavated that revealed:
- The layer structure is sloping as it was formed on a hill structure. The soil is basalt. The material traces of Tran dynasty laid in the second layer, at 0,9m depth, 0,5m thickness.
The architectural remaining was defined to be 3 blocks connecting to make U shape. It also appeared foundation and rock blocks of a central architecture. The foundation is quite long: southern foundation is 42,9m long, 35,1m long of northern one, Tran style foundation. Especially, finding a kind of pebble columns which used to reinforce the foundation. Knowing the rule of the arrangement of those columns would help to define the master plan and building structure.
Excavation team really paid attention to the center part of the upper layer of foundation. However, this site is now still being covered by tea cultivation, thus, they can’t research further except discovering 5 blue rock bases in different size but rather square crafted, and also found some pottery and terracotta objects.
Reinforcing the northern foundation
During the excavation, the team secured various construction materials such as ridge-tiles, rock column blocks, iron nails, pottery and terracotta wares, and huge amount of pebbles.
From the traces we discovered, we can say that the site used to be a large scale architectural building, rectangular shape and facing west, surrounded by connecting long houses playing as the wall to protect the heart core inside where might have used for keeping the worshiping statues (Arhat statues?). It’s just a hypothesis and many things need to be done to study and excavate to determine the date and characteristics and other issues regarding to the site.
Through study, we can recognize the similarity of the building materials used in Pu Tre and Hac Y site (Buddhism architectural complex of Tran dynasty). Did Hac Y and Pu Tre and other close form a great Buddhism center at Tran dynasty in the northwest of Vietnam?
The study and excavation in Pu Tre and also Muong Lo have brought new conception and understandings to the history of the western region of Yen Bai province. It also helps to provide science statistics to serve the study of culture and history of this region.
Nguyen Van Doan
EN: Tran Trang