West Lake was very large so in 1620 the inhabitants of Truc Yen, Truc Quang, and part of present day Yen Phu, built a dyke called Co Ngua across the lake; it is now Thanh Nien Street. The western part of the lake is West Lake and the eastern side is Truc Bach Lake. It was called Truc Bach because in the reign of King Le and Lord Trinh (17th and 18th centuries), a lot of small ivory bamboo was planted around the lake. During the Le Dynasty, there were 12 villages west of the lake belonging to Vinh Thuan and Phung Thien (Tay Ho) districts. They were: Yen Phu, Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Quang Ba, Nhat Tan, Xuan La, Bai an, Vong Thi, Trich Sai, Ho Khau, Yen Thai and Thuy Chuong. To the east were the villages of Truc Yen and Yen Quang of An Thanh, Vinh Thuan District (now Ba Đinh District). Truc Yen was called Truc Bach and, because it was a combination of the two villages of Truc Yen and Lac Chich, it was also called Truc Lac. These villages are now part of Truc Bach, Pho Đuc Chinh and Yen Ninh precincts in Ba Đinh District.
The residents in the former Truc Yen and Lac Chich 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 “Tung Tay Ho Phu” poetry.
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 Thang Long.
The topography of Truc Bach Lake was spectacular. There was a whirlpool, a dragon conjuring gems, and a pearl-shaped knoll called Chau Long in the middle of the lake. Around the lake are famous historical monuments such as Quan Thanh, An Temple and Tran Quoc Pagoda, and the inhabitants of this area have witnessed many changes in life, nature, and society over the years.
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.