When talking of West Lake one must mention Trúc Bạch Lake. Trúc Bạch, which means “small creamy white bamboo,” was closer to West Lake in the past.
Trúc Bạch Lake
The residents in the former Trúc Yên and Lạc Chích mainly grew rice, planted mulberry trees and caught fish. Later, it became well known for dyeing and laundering silk as recorded in a line of “Tụng Tây Hồ Phú” poetry. West Lake was very large so in 1620 the inhabitants of Trúc Yên, Trúc Quang, and part of present day Yên Phụ, built a dyke called Cổ Ngư across the lake; it is now Thanh Nien Street. The western part of the lake is WestLake and the eastern side is Trúc Bạch Lake.
It was called Trúc Bạch because in the reign of King Lê and Lord Trịnh (17th and 18th centuries), a lot of small ivory bamboo was planted around the lake. During the Lê Dynasty, there were 12 villages west of the lake belonging to Vĩnh Thuận and Phụng Thiên (Tây Hồ) districts. They were: Yên Phụ, Nghi Tàm, Tây Hồ, Quảng Bá, Nhật Tân, Xuân La, Bái Ân, Võng Thị, Trích Sài, Hồ Khẩu, Yên Thái and Thuỵ Chương. To the east were the villages of Trúc Yên and Yên Quang of An Thành, Vĩnh Thuận District (now Ba Đình District). Trúc Yên was called Trúc Bạch and, because it was a combination of the two villages of Trúc Yên and Lạc Chích, it was also called Trúc Lạc. These villages are now part of Trúc Bạch, Phó Đức Chính and Yên Ninh precincts in Ba Đình District.
The girls are dyeing silk in the lake
The water within the hollow of their hands is twinkling as in a mirror.
This is a quaint and poetic description of the working class villages and hamlets. The scenery was beautiful and full of cultural characteristics of West Lake that contribute to the grace of Thăng Long.
A natural sight or a historical monument is usually connected with a legend, and sometimes a legend is combined with another or social and natural phenomena become mixed up. Only by telling a combination of legends can we understand the fascinating and abundant oral histories about West Lake.The topography of Trúc Bạch Lake was spectacular. There was a whirlpool, a dragon conjuring gems, and apearl-shaped knoll called Châu Long in the middle of the lake. Around the lake are famous historical monuments such as Quán Thánh, An Temple and Trấn Quốc Pagoda, and the inhabitants of this area have witnessed many changes in life, nature, and society over the years.