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Discovery of thach ban in Con Son
  10/3/2017 9:37:17 AM
Thach ban (large flat rocks) in Con Son (Hai Duong) not only are creations of nature but have become historical sites associated with celebrities.

The stele before the large thach ban

Around them are both real and mythical stories increasing the attractiveness of the relic site.

Nguyen Trai's dream

One of frequent destinations of visitors to Con Son is a thach ban, called hon da nam gian (a five-compartment rock) among the common people, covering an area of about 200m2 next to Con Son stream, right before the foundation of Nguyen Trai's house.

The thach ban is associated with the childhood of Nguyen Trai when he lived with his maternal grandfather, Minister over the Masses Tran Nguyen Dan, in Thanh Hu cave, Con Son.

During his childhood, Nguyen Trai often lay on the large rock reading books or reciting poems. The thach ban appears in the best verses he wrote about Con Son: Con Son co da reu phoi/ Ta ngoi tren da nhu ngoi chieu em (There is a mossy rock in Con Son/ I sit on it as if sitting on a soft mat) (Con Son Ca (Con Son Song)).

The poem Con Son Ca has been included in textbooks for general schools; therefore, when coming to Con Son relic site, a lot of visitors remembering the verses looked for and visited Con Son stream and the thach ban.

"I really like the scenery of Con Son, especially a path along the stream. The thach ban not only enhances the beauty of the landscape but also is evidence of ancestors," said Nguyen Hong Hanh from Cau Giay district (Ha Noi).

In the years fighting the enemy with Le Loi, Nguyen Trai many times wanted to return to Con Son when he could to drink tea made with water taken from Con Son stream and lie on the thach ban to enjoy serenity.

In the poem Loan Hau Dao Con Son Cam Tac (Returning to Con Son after Turbulence), Nguyen Trai mentioned the dream of his life: Bao gio duoi nui may ve o/ Nuoc suoi che tuoi ngu thach ban (When clouds fly down mountains/ I will drink fresh tea made with stream water and sleep on the large flat rock).

The thach ban dream is a common dream of the whole nation, not just his dream of serenity.

The image of the thach ban not only is part of Con Son landscape but also became a symbol of tranquility and a dream of Nguyen Trai during the years of warfare. Maybe in his mind, when he could return and sleep on the thach ban, the country was peaceful with no more invaders. The thach ban dream is a common dream of the whole nation, not just his dream of serenity.

After the time of Nguyen Trai, the thach ban – a very beautiful ancient relic of Con Son – was also mentioned in many old books like Lich Trieu Hien Chuong Loai Chi (Categorical Records of Charters of Dynasties) by Phan Huy Chu (the 19th century), Chi Linh Phong Vat Chi (Records of the Landscape of Chi Linh), etc.

The Management Unit of Con Son – Kiep Bac Relics has enclosed the thach ban for protection and built a stele on which part of the poem Con Son Ca was engraved.

Thanks to the thach ban, scientists have been able to determine the location of the foundation of Nguyen Trai's house because his prose and verses mention his return to Con Son to build a house overlooking the thach ban by Con Son stream to teach pupils.

In 1979, Hai Hung Museum (present-day Hai Duong Museum) excavated a location next to the large thach ban and found traces of Nguyen Trai's house with a level of an architectural foundation 17m long and 7m wide and a lot of artifacts dating back to the 15th century.

In 2005, the Management Unit of Con Son – Kiep Bac Relics renovated the area and built a surrounding stone embankment and a stele house recording the vestiges of Nguyen Trai's house next to the large thach ban.

Place at which Uncle Ho stopped off

The small thach ban at which Uncle Ho stopped off during his visit to Con Son in 1965

Along the 3km-long Con Son stream are many other rocks. About 70m from the large thach ban is another rock called small thach ban which is also of special significance since it keeps traces of a celebrity, a national hero.

On February 15, 1965, Uncle Ho visited Con Son. After having offered incense at Con Son pagoda, he went to Con Son stream and sat on the small thach ban to take a rest in the afternoon.

There, he met a group of Van Duc Secondary School pupils going camping. He talked to officials and pupils and recommended them to well preserve and protect historical relics and plant a lot of trees to turn Con Son into a beautiful forest.

To realize Uncle Ho's recommendation, Con Son relic site has been preserved, protected, and renovated for over 50 years and become more and more beautiful and verdant.

The two thach ban are connection points of Con Son and Ngu Nhac mountain feet from which one can climb to Ban Co Tien (Fairy Chessboard) or Ngu Nhac temple. These are historical evidence contributing to forming the special significance of Con Son relic site.

Besides the two real thach ban, Con Son also has an imaginary one. That is the Ban Co Tien.

In the 14th century when the 3rd patriarch of Truc Lam Zen Huyen Quang led a religious life at Con Son pagoda, on the top of Con Son mountain, there was the small pagoda of Bach Van where enlightened monks often came to practice and preach to their disciples. Then, over time, the area was devastated.

One year, a group of celebrities from Kinh Bac visited Con Son and traveled to the mountain top in the early morning. Nearly there, they heard voices and laughter but only saw a chessboard with an unfinished game when reaching the destination.

The celebrities thought that the previous night when heaven and earth combined, fairies flew down to talk and play chess but left the game unfinished to return to heaven when realizing someone was coming. Since then, there has been the Ban Co Tien.

"Ban Co Tien is the name of a flat ground on the mountain top, which originated in a story handed down among the common people. Though there are areas of rocks arranged like seats on Con Son mountain top, no specific rock is called Ban Co Tien," said Le Duy Manh, Deputy Head of the Management Unit of Con Son – Kiep Bac Relics.
Still, the imaginary Ban Co Tien has created a mystical charm for the mountain top and lured numerous tourists to come in person for exploration whenever they arrive in Con Son.

At present, there are stelae and notes for both the large and small thach ban; however, they have been blurred and lined by many thoughtless visitors.

To preserve the relics and help tourists better understand the thach ban, the Management Unit of the Relics should restore the two stelae with clearer notes and take protective measures.

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