If you have the chance to set foot in Dong Van Plateau, you will be really impressed with the image of solid stone fence, curving around the small house.
Dong Van Karst Plateau is a place that rock is all you can see. It seems that the life of people here are attached to stones and rock. In order to adapt and survive, they have found ways to conquer the rock. They break rock to make paths; plant corn in the hollow rocky mountain … Especially, they also know how to erect the stone barriers to protect their homes. The custom of building stone fences has been passed from generation to generation of Hmong people until today. Let’s get to know more about these stone fences to better understand this cultural characteristic.
Coming to the upland in the districts of Dong Van, Meo Vac, Yen Minh …, visitors will easily see the beautiful stone fences protecting the house of the Hmong . Rough, rugged, angular stones are hand-picked and skillfully rearranged to form adjacent solid and stone fences. The most unique thing here is that these stones are kept almost as intact as what is available. Therefore, Hmong men have to spent a great deal of time selecting and arranging the stones really fit together to create a solid stone barrier.
Folklore researchers have observed that the H’mong stone fence in the Dong Van Plateau had “broken” all the usual rules of construction. Normally, people always need adhesives to build and form blocks but their stone fence is made up of small rough stones with different shapes and angles by the natural bonding. Absolutely no need for cement or sand, they are stacked according to a law of their own and “cling” together firmly to overcome thunderstorms and harsh weather on the plateau.
The height and width of the stone fence are depend on the specific location. Most of the stone fences in Dong Van Plateau are all over 1 meter in width and about 2 meters in height. Therefore, these stone fences cannot be finished in a couple of days. It takes long to finish them, even up to to a year. Under the skillful hands of the Mong people, the stones are self-aligned, stick themselves together to form a stronghold. There were curious visitors trying to push the stone barrier and then even be more amazing, admirable because of its solid. The stones are so cleverly arranged that they hold each other firmly.
According to the old villagers in Khai Roai village, Tat Nga commune, Meo Vac district, the selection and arrangement of stone barriers has become one of the criteria to assess the maturity of Hmong son. In the Hmong community of Dong Van Plateau, 3 to 4-year-old boys start playing with stones in the garden. At the age of 9 or 10, they will be taught by their father how to choose and arrange stones. Therefore, most Hmong men can build stone fences. People say that “Mature Hmong men must know how to do three important things those are plowing, playing khen and making stone fences.
(Stone fences erecting took a long time to complete)
Due to the living characteristics of Hmong people, stone fences are usually built around the house, the garden or the cattle shed. Some relatives can make a large stone fence around them or maybe the whole family gathered inside a solid stone fence. The fence has a vital role of preventing the thefts and wild animals, protecting the peaceful life of the community.
In addition, the stone fence has become a unique architectural feature of Dong Van plateau. Especially in the spring, the stone fence is decorated with the white of plum blossom, pink of peach blossom. Colorful dresses of Hmong women hang on the stone fence like fresh flowers that stand out from the forest.
The stone fence has become an indispensable part in the life of the Hmong, who were born and raised in rocky mountains. It’s still cherished and preserved as a traditional culture of Ha Giang.