This street is 268 metres long and was composed of sections of two other ancient streets: Hang May ( the section bordering Hang Buom were rattan was sold ) and lower Hang Ma ( the section bordering Hang Bac which sold votive paper items to burn for honouring ancestors and gods such as paper funeral palanquins, human figures, hats, and money ) and was named Ma May about 100 years ago.
In French colonial times it was known as Pavillons Rue Des Noirs ( Street of the Black Flag Army) because in 1882 the French army was besieged in don Thuy and in the Hanoi Citadel after the Battle of Cau Giay, and one group of the anti-French Co Den ( Black Flag) army) camped here. Howerver, the Vietnamese have only ever called it Ma May
Today on Ma May old houses are mixed with Western and modern houses as well as shops and restaurants.
“ The ancient house at 87 Ma May Street”
This is a typical example of a traditional house in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It is 156.7 square metres in area, 28 metres long, and about 5 metres wide: according to the rules of feng sui, the rear of the house is wider than the front so the house would bring its owner happiness and wealth.
Its layout is that of traditional architecture in Hanoi:
House 1 – Yard 1 – House 2 – Yard 3- Kitchen – House 3 ( toilet, warehouse)
The house is clearly divided into separate houses and yeads:
- The ground floor of House 1 is a shop; the upper floor has a guest reception room and a bay that houses the family altar for the ancestors.
- The Ground floor of House 2 is whre the servants lived and it has a warehouse for storing commodities; its upper floor is a bedroom with a front verandah where the house owner would sit drinking tea and playing chess. There is also a rear verandah overlooking an open yard for drying Chinese medicinal herbs in the sun.
- The back part of the house ( House 3) comprises the additions for a toilet and another warehouse.
- The house is characteristic of the shop-houses common in the early 19th century that were always located right on the street to be convenient for trade. It is also a typical tube house divided into smaller houses and open courtyards to allow for sunlight. The façade is decorated with miniature wooden figurines and other architectural details typical of the houses at that time and it has refined timber doors. The side ( wing) walls of each house are divided into three parts of different heights. At the two ends of the roof ridge are two small brichk jutting abutments. The edges of the foofs are also finely ornamented.
- Ngo Gach Street (Brick Street)
- Hang Chieu Street (Sedge Mat Street)
- Hang Giay Street (Paper Street)
- Hang Khoai Street (Potato Street)
- Hang Dau Street (Bean Street)
- Hang Gai Street ( Ramie Street)
- Hang Quat Street (Fan Street)
- Hang Hom Street ( Trunk Street)
- Hang Manh Street ( Bamboo Blinds Street)
- Hang Non Street ( Conical Hat Street)