In a project for investigating and planning for the conservation and promotion of historical relics in Ba Hien Commune (Binh Xuyen, Vinh Phuc), we heard a rumor of "Chinese" old wells.
According to local people, there are dozens of old wells located in the villages, in particular in the villages of Quang Vinh, Ba Ha, Thich Trung, Thien Chi, Ba Huong... Each well has its own name, such as, Chun (family of Do Van Chung, Quang Vinh village), Chùa (family of Duong Thi Lien, Quang Vinh village), Trước (family of Duong Van Lai, Thien Chi village), Bò (Thich Trung village)...
Those wells surely have existed for a long time and stay everywhere: it can be on the road or in anyone's garden corner or near the ponds. However, except ones which were destroyed, we found that there is only one well muddy, all of them are very transparent and still providing the water for daily life. So what technique the old people used for building the wells to make such kind of nice water?
The structure of the wells almost as same as with the structure of the upper edge, square, and constructed of 4 sandstone blocks, each of 1,3m-1,54m long and 0,7m-0,96m wide. The date of construction of the well was scripted on one block. The trace of the slot of the string (to get the water) still remains on the edge. The under edge (underground) is round, constructed of pebbles. Only Chua well case, there the well was constructed by digging into the laterite rock, however, as it was dug into earth, it has been muddy through time. It is about 5 meters long, with stones in the bottom layer (to filter the water), this technique was quite popular in Champa culture.
A valuable mark on the wells is the character (Han) telling about the date of the construction of the wells, from Hong Duc reign to Doan Khanh reign (Le so dynasty), renovating date in Sung Khang 9 (late 15th century). Those inscriptions are very deep that were representative for Le-Mac writing style. This information proofs a fact that the wells were built 500 years before that time and undergone some renovations. On the well in the family of Duong Van Lai, it wrote the year of construction 1490, while on a stone board next to there, it wrote the year of renovation 1574. That information has denied the "Chinese wells" as the rumor.
Han character inscribed on the well in Quang Vinh village
The well in the house of Duong Van Lai, Thien Chi village
Thuong well in Quang Vinh village
Therefore, among many heritages in Ba Hien commune, those ancient wells with their special structure, technique and chronicle open a lot of issues that need to be researched. Or are they traces of Champa community or just a copy that Viet people took from Cham people?
For any reasons, it cannot deny for the unique and value of the wells. However, it is urgent for local authority to protect them from damages caused both of nature and human and planning for conservation and value promotion.
Nguyen Van Doan
EN: Tran Trang