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25/04/2020 - 07:50

The River of Heavenly Fortune

The artificial river, which is hundreds of years old, used to be scenic in ancient Hue before it was blocked. Yet the river has already revived and become beautiful since it was dredged five years ago.

Tossing the fishing net. Photo by Le Minh

Nhu Y – the folk name

In the book Seven hundred years of Thuan Hoa–Phu Xuan–Hue, Nguyen Dac Xuan stated that there was no river named Nhu Y as it was documented in Dai Nam nhat thong chi (‘Dai Nam Comprehensive Encyclopaedia’). The river Nhu Y as it is called today was recorded as Tho Loc.

In many other documents, the name of Nhu Y river was Thien Loc Giang (‘the river of Heavenly Fortune’). There used to be separated canals until the 17th century when the Nguyen Lords had them connected with each other and with Huong river and Loi Nong river, flowing to Ha Trung, Tam Giang lagoon.

The river has been called Nhu Y by the folk people for a long time while the name Tho Loc and Thien Loc Giang have been little known. This is a beautiful river of the ancient Hue with many village community halls, temples and clan ancestral houses.

The path along the east bank of the river runs through many ancient villages such as Ngoc Anh, Chiet Bi and Van Khe and ends at Thanh Toan Tile-Roofed Bridge. On the west bank, there are historical places such as the tomb of royal highness Nguyen Phuc Thuan, the fourth son of royal highness Nguyen Phuc Tan; the temple of Leading Mandarin Ton That Thuyet, the co-leader of Can Vuong movement. In area along the river, there are also many ancient houses with green gardens, which attracts those who enjoy life of the waters.

Early the 20th century, Nhu Y was blocked at the junction with the Huong river to prevent saline intrusion from the Huong river. This was to protect the rice fields in Phu Vang district and Huong Thuy town. For this, the poetic river dried up gradually over the years.

The story of the river through photography

Down the river along the way to the villages in Van Duong and Thuy Thanh, and to Phao Vong village (Residential area 14, Vy Da ward), it is easy to catch sight of people tossing fishing nets. Phao Vong is one of the three fishing villages whose names have been in the stele “Fishing right” since the reign of Emperor Minh Mang.

According to photographer Xuan Le, Nhu Y has two notable characteristics. First, the water in this river has the green color of algae which reflects beautifully in the sunlight, so it makes a great backdrop for photography. Second, Phao Vong fishermen are the most skillful at tossing the fishing net.

Old fisherman Vo Dai Cong in Phao Vong, who still works on Nhu Y river despite being over 80, used to be an experienced model for photography. Those who want to look for him can meet him at the islet in the middle of the river.

He said: “One day, while I was tossing the fishing net, some people came and introduced themselves as photographers. They asked me to be a model for them. Since then, many others came and asked me to work for them, and I became a photo model ever since.”

Later, his sons also became photo models. Among his sons, Vo Van Say has a toned body and tanned complexion although he is in his fifties. Vo Van Say often works as a model at Van Duong 2 bridge, Vy Da bridge and Ba Mom T-junction. Sometimes, he is asked to row his boat down to Thuy Van and Thuy Thanh communes.

Working for a long time, he becomes a professional model. He knows which part of the river and what time of the day will be best to take photographs and he passes the experience to photographers who pay him for the work. Apart from Vo Dai Cong’s family, there are also many amateur models in Phao Vong, such as Pham Van Tram and Vo Van Ngu.

For the past many years, the photographers from home and abroad have come to Nhu Y for their artworks. Hundreds of thousands of photographs taking moments of the rivers during the four seasons have been introduced to people around the world and have also won many prestigious awards in international competitions.

The river after being dredged

Nhu Y came into existence over 300 years ago, functioning as a flood drainage channel from the Huong river, a public waterway and a water source for the fields. In the past, the authorities had the Stone Dam built to prevent salinity, blocking the source of Nhu Y river, making the river stagnant and polluted in the dry season.

After the construction of Thao Long Dam and Ta Trach Lake, the problem of salinity in the Huong river during the summer has been basically solved. Therefore, researchers of Hue studies and the local people have petitioned to dredge Nhu Y river. in 2014, the provincial authorities had a sluice system through the Stone Dam opened for the flow of water from the Huong river to Nhu Y river.

The river has revived after being unblocked. Fishermen restarted their work and now there are about 40 households living on fishing. People have equipped more tools and fished further to the lagoon rather than in the area of Van Duong bridge. In addition to fishing, they also practice fish-farming. Each household has three or four cages farming fish and has the profit of dozens of millions of Vietnamese Dong a year, improving their livelihoods.

In addition, travel and tourism companies have investigated and put into operation tours along Nhu Y rivers since 2015, according to Nguyen Mau Hoa, vice-president of the People’s Committee of Thuy Thanh Commune (Huong Thuy Town).

The provincial authorities have now had policies on the planning and expansion of Nhu Y river, and the embellishment of the scenery and environment in the area of Thanh Toan Tile-Roofed Bridge. This is to help open irrigation lines for agriculture and, at the same time, develop tourism. In the expansion of Nhu Y river, not only a large, open and beautiful space but also the efficient and sustainable development should be taken into consideration.

By Vo Trieu Son

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