Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue

Families in a rural community of Vietnam are pouring up to US$70,000 into elaborate final resting places to honour their kin.
January 13, 2022 | 09:16

Drive along Highway 49 from Hue City to Thuan An beach and then continue along the coastal road about 30km to Vinh An commune (Phu Vang district, Thua Thien Hue province), you will encounter a land area of ​​about 40ha with many tombs are taller than the people's houses, varied in size and design.

Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Running along the road to An Bang village, many people can't help but be surprised with the magnificent tombs of all sizes and designs lying on both sides of the road, mixed with residential areas. Source: Vietnam Timeless Charm
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
The 250-hectare site has earned the nickname “City of Ghosts” for its ornate tombs. Source: Vietnam Timeless Charm
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
There are more than 1,000 graves from 40-400m2 wide with gates up to 7-8m high.
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
The architecture of these structures covers a variety of styles, from Buddhist temples to Gothic-inspired graves, Hindu, Islamic and Christian décor. Source: Vietnam Timeless Charm
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Source: Hue Viewers
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Ornate accents and heavily detailed carvings occupy most of the tombs. Source: Thanh Nien News
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Villagers also believe that higher tombs afford better views for the dead, prompting An Bang locals to build two-story structures for their ancestors. Source: Vietnam Timeless Charm
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
The motifs inlaid with crockery in the mausoleums are quite similar to the decoration at Khai Dinh tomb, making many people stunned about the meticulousness to every detail of the workers. Source: Thanh Nien News
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Each mausoleum is like a miniature palace with full of mascots (Dragon, Chinese Unicorn, Turtle, Phoenix) guarding.
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
According to local news, in the past, the people of An Bang village struggled to make a living by fishing. In recent years, thanks to overseas remittances sent by family members living abroad, people were able to build enormous tombs, which is another way to show respect to the ancestors. Source: Thanh Nien News
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
The service of lighting incense, guarding, cleaning the tomb, creating jobs for many people, each month a person can receive from VND 4 to 8 million from this. Source: Thanh Nien News
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Exquisite handcrafted works made by the craftsmen here. Source: afamily.vn
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
In addition to these unique tombs, An Bang cemetery also has countless spacious family worshiping houses. Along the concrete roads leading to each small hamlet, it is easy to see them everywhere, with high-walled gates and only open when it is time to pay respect to ancestors. Source: Kenh14
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
Family tombs at the cemetery in An Bang on December 2, 2015. Source: Thanh Nien News
Get A Glimpse of Vietnam's City of Ghosts in Thua Thien Hue
On special occasions like ancestors’ death anniversaries or the Lunar New Year, special rites are performed to communicate with the dead.

Vietnamese families often visit their ancestors’ tombs and clean gravesites whenever the Lunar New Year (Tet) comes, normally from the 23rd of the last month of the lunar year to New Year’s Eve, VNA informed.

They light incense at the graves, sum up the family’s major events during the year for their ancestors and invite the deceased to “come home” to enjoy Tet with their family in the land of the living.

Then family members uproot weeds, tend to the flowers growing on ancestors’ graves, and clean the gravestones.

Vietnamese people believe everything, including the deceased’s tombs, should be clean and bright in celebration of Tet in order to have good luck in the new year.

Ancestor worship, an ancient Vietnamese tradition, is the ritual practice that reflects the influence of patriarchy and Confucianism on Vietnamese culture.

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Hannah Nguyen

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