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Ancient “Da Huong” tree tells story

(BGO) - I have recently visited Tien Luc commune, Lang Giang district, in the northern province of Bac Giang, to see a temple, the pagoda relic site and a thousand-year-old “da huong” or camphor tree, which is considered the largest camphor tree in the country and worldwide. King Le Canh Hung (1740 – 1786) granted the title “King of Camphor Trees” to the Tien Luc “da huong” tree.

 

Chuyện lạ, dưới tán dã hương, Tiên Lục, Lạng Giang

Tourists see “da huong” tree (Taken by The Dai).

Standing under the green canopy, I could feel the vitality of the thousand-year-old tree, which has a robust trunk. As scientists measured the smallest perimeter of the trunk is 8.3 metres and the largest is over 11 metres. The tiny leaves stick together to create a cluster of thick leaves like a big umbrella, which is hundreds of metres wide. The rough bark of the branches is covered with lichen, moss and fungus. Near the foot of the tree is the temple of Vien Son which is 264 years old.

A pillar in the temple has a line of Han script which says on November 20, the Year of Monkey, an old man namely Giap Van Quyet and his spouse Nguyen Thi Nong, presented the temple a good timber pillar. According to the Han-Nom geography book featuring Bac Giang published by the provincial People’s Committee, Vien Son temple was built in the middle of the 18th century under the reign of King Le Canh Hung. So it could be inferred that the pillar was presented in 1752. So, the temple has been sheltering under the “da huong” canopies for nearly three centuries. It is said that Tien Luc villagers worship six gods, including the giant camphor tree.

In 1989, the camphor tree and the Tien Luc temple and pagoda relic site were recognised as national cultural and historical heritages. The camphor tree is seen as a mascot and spiritual place for locals. The village elders in Tien Luc discovered an interesting phenomenon about the links between the camphor tree and contemporary life. The branches never break due to storms, but when an old branch falls, it signals a major turning point for the country, such as the successful August Revolution in 1945, the Dien Bien Phu Victory in 1954, the war expansion to the north of Vietnam in 1964, and the Southern Liberation and National Reunification in 1975.

In recent years, Nguyen Van De, a staff from the management board of Tien Luc relic site, has created multiple “da huong” saplings to sell to tourists. He collected the seeds and grew them in the field. Each year, he sells thousands of small camphor trees to visitors. Tien Luc camphor saplings are grown at all national relic sites such as Dong Loc cemetery, Truong Bon historical relic site, Uncle Ho’s house in Kim Lien, Pac Bo relic site, Hung Temple, General Vo Nguyen Giap’s tomb, campus of Vietnamese heroic mothers statue in Quang Nam, Viet Duc hospital, as well as temples, pagodas and ecological gardens from northern Lang Son province to the southernmost province of Ca Mau.

“Da huong” tree is not only the pride of Tien Luc but also a national treasure. Tourists visit the village to admire the thousand-year-old tree and its pure fragrance every day. Visitors also hear thrilling stories about the ancient tree, which were passed from generation to generation. The tree has become a symbol of national everlasting vitality.

Chu Ngoc Phan

Ancient “Da Huong” tree, story, Tien Luc, Bac Giang
 
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