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The Chinese Assembly Halls

As the Chinese immigrants reached the central part of Vietnam known as Hoi An today, they decided to create the opportunities for themselves and the next generations to socialize and protect the Chinese traditions by building many Assembly Halls. Nowadays, even though not all of the halls stay the same, the five remaining ones (Fujian, Chaozhou, Hainan, Cantonese, and Chinese) become famous attractions of Hoi An.

These Assembly Halls share many things in common; they are all located on Tran Phu Street, facing the Thu Bon River and having a pretty wide scope. Generally, they all follow a formula that has been used by other Chinese assembly halls in other cities: a grand gate, a nice garden with ornamental plants, a main hall and a large altar room. As decoration is a fundamental part of an assembly hall, it is carried out meticulously at all of the halls with statues, lacquered boards, murals, etc. However, because each Chinese community has its own beliefs, different assembly halls worship different gods and goddesses.

Among the five assembly halls in Hoi An, Fujian Assembly Hall is greatest and most famous. It was erected around 1690 to function as a place for the Chinese ethnic group from Fujian, China to socialize and worship. The main part of the hall is a temple dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea who protects sailors from danger. As told by the preceding generations, the Chinese in Hoi An decided to build that temple to worship the statue of the goddess which was found on Hoi An beach in 1697. With several paintings, murals and huge altars, the entire decoration of the temple concentrate not only on Thien Hau but also on the majestic beauty and the power of other influential gods and goddesses in the Chinese’s belief.

Throughout the temple, there are a plethora of statues, bronze drums, bronze bells and horizontal lacquered board engraved with Chinese characters. The whole combination and arrangement of every element in the hall tend to imply the Chinese philosophy of happiness. In addition to its architecture, nowadays its many events and activities to celebrate Chinese’s festivals make the Fukien Assembly Hall a wonderful destination for visitors from both inside and outside of Vietnam.

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