RELICS

Thái Học Courtyard

Thai Hoc courtyard was constructed in 2000 on the former ground of Quoc Tu Giam to celebrate 990th anniversary of the capital Thang Long – Hanoi and to honor the national traditions of culture and education.

The designs of the Thái Học courtyard were based on the traditional architecture in harmony with the surrounding sights of the Temple of Literature.

With an area of 1530m2 out of a total 6150m2, the Thai Hoc courtyard consists of the building in front, building behind, left and right buildings, bell house, drum house and other buildings. The main materials for their construction were ironwood, shoe-like tiles and bricks.

The building in front is used for organizing ceremonies in memory of cultural scholars, scientific and cultural activities.

The building behind consists of two storeys. The ground floor is used for displaying the statue of Director of Quoc Tu Giam Chu Van An  to honor him and the exhibits on the history of Van Mieu- Quoc Tu Giam, and on Confucian education in Vietnam. The upper floor is dedicated to three Kings who contributed most to the foundation of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam and to the development of Confucian education in Vietnam.

  • King Ly Thanh Tong (1023- 1072) who founded the temple in 1070.
  • King Ly Nhan Tong (1066- 1127) who founded the first National University in 1076.
  • King Le Thanh Tong (1442- 1497) who ordered the erection of stone stelae of doctor laureates in 1484.

 

 


Đai Thanh Sanctuary

Đại Thành Sanctuary consists of nine compartments, the three sides have no windows or doors while the front side of the seven central compartments have wooden doors. The two outermost compartments have no doors but windows with wooden bars in the architectural style of the Later Lê Dynasty. All of the wooden columns in this building were red-lacquered, on the rooftop are two dragons flanking a moon, and the roof is tiled with shoe-shaped tiles.

 

 

Dai Thanh Sanctuary runs parallel with the Great House of Ceremony, and is connected by a small house. This place is used for the worshipping of Confucius, Four most brilliant students of Confucius and Ten Chinese Philosophers.

The central compartment is for worshiping Confucius; his face turns to the South, according to the concept of "Thanhs nhân Nam diện nhi trị”, it means a saint turns his face to the South to rule the nation. Behind the altar is a wooden tablet engraved with the name of Confucius.  Confucius, known as Zhong Ni, was born in Zou, Qufu, State of Lu (now in Shandong Province, China) in 551 BC and passed away in 479 BC. He was worshiped in Vietnam since the 11th  century as a great thinker and educator.

On both sides of the statue of Confucius are four statues, the statues represent four most brilliant students of Confucius: Yanhui, Zengzi, Zisi, and Mengzi. They made a great contribution to the development of Confucianism.


Đai Thanh gate, Đai Bai yard, Left and Right Houses

Đại Thành Gate is in the architectural style of the Later Le dynasty (15th -17th  centuries). It is a wooden structure with three compartments and a shoe-shaped tiled roof. The doors are decorated with  motifs of “dragons in clouds”, depicting the aspiration for a prosperous system of Confucian education. On the platform of Đại Thành Gate are six skillfully-made lions (two stone lions and four wooden) which are used as doorhinges.        

To the sides of Đại Thành Gate are two small side gates, Kim Thanh (Golden Sound) and Ngọc Chấn (Jade Vibration), leading to the two building: Left house and Right house.

Behind Đại Thành gate is Đại Bái yard. To the sides of  the yard are two houses: Left and Right House, each has nine compartments. Previously, the two houses used to be places for the worshipping of 72 Chinese sages (72 students of Confucius). However, both of them were destroyed in 1946, the two new houses were constructed on the same ground in 1954.

 

 


Garden of the Doctors’ Stelae and Thiên Quang Well.

The garden of the Doctors’ Stelae is a significant section of the relic. In the center of the garden is a square well named Thiên Quang Tỉnh or Well of Heavenly Brilliance. The ancient well is surrounded by a brick banister, and has two brick stairs in the East and West. The well is full of pure water all year round.

 

 

To the sides of the well, to the East and West, are  lines of Doctors’ stelae.  The first stelae erected in 1484 under King Le Thanh Tong’s Dynasty aimed not only to honor talented people, but also to encourage comtemporary and future generations in education. The stelae were erected over a period of 300 years (1484-1780).

Only 82 stelae remain today, the stelae are engraved with the names and homelands of 1.304 doctors of 82 royal examinations held between 1442 and 1779.

In 1994, eight lines of shelter houses were constructed to protect these stelae. These houses have wooden frames and shoe-shaped tiled roofs. Because they are not very large, so they are in harmony with Khuê Văn Pavilion and Thiên Quang Well, creating a complete architectural scenery in this area.


Thanh Đat Courtyard and Khue Van Pavilion.

The second courtyard of Van Mieu is Thành Đạt courtyard. There are also three paths in this area, including a central path called Hoàng Đạo running from  Đại Trung Gate to Khuê Văn pavilion. The two smaller paths run on each side.  One leads to Bí Văn gate and the other to Súc Văn gate. Bí Văn means coherent writing style, Súc Văn means concise content

 

In 1805, the Governor of Bắc Thành (Nothern Citadel), Mr. Nguyễn Văn Thành ordered the construction of Khuê Văn Các, meaning “Khuê Constellation Pavilion”, at Văn Miếu in Hà Nội. The pavilion is a symmetrical, simple, and elegant building. Its platform is square and its windows round. The pavilion has double roofs of pipe-shaped tiles. On the pavilion hangs a red board with three golden chinese characters-“Khuê Văn Các”- meaning Khuê Văn Pavilion. According to oriental astronomy, Khuê is the brightest constellation of 28 constellations. Khuê constellation includes 16 small stars that incidentally form the Chinese character Văn (). That explains why ancient people believed Khuê constellation could moniter the Văn-literature. On the Khuê Văn Các hang many parallel sentences that represent the vitality of knowledge and intelligence.

“Khuê constellation in the sky, as bright as the humanity in life.

Bích river in spring time, as lively as learning for ever”

In 2012, Khuê Văn Các was chosen as the symbol of the Hanoi Capital.

 


Nhập Đạo Courtyard and Đại Trung Gate

Pass through the Great Portico to enter the Nhập Đạo Courtyard, or  the “Entrance to the Way”. This courtyard is covered with trees and grass and on each side is a pond.

The central path leads to the Great Middle Gate and the other two side paths lead to two small gates. The name of each gate symbolizes wisdom: Thành Đức (Accomplished Virtue) and Đạt Tài (Attained Talent).

 

The Great Middle Gate is built in the architectural style of the Later Lê dynasty (15th-17th centuries). It is a wooden construction with three compartments supported by wooden columns and a shoe-shaped tiled roof; on the rooftop are two carps flanking a flask called Móc, the carp and the flask were decorated with pieces of glazed terracotta and porcelain. The ground of the gate was laid with bricks made in Bát Tràng. The gate was set up on a brick platform surrounded by stone and has three steps, making it sizeable and solemn.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


 The Great Portico

 

 

The Great Portico was built in the early 20th century. The gate was built as a two-tier brick structure with eight roofs and three doors. The central door is wide and high, and bears three Chinese characters- “Văn Miếu Môn” (Great Portico of Van Mieu) on the second tier. The two ironwooden doors open up to the inside of the temple and are adorned with two dragons flanking the moon on the top.

In front of Van Mieu’s Great Portico are two stone dragons in the architectural style of the Le dynasty (15th century) and another two stone dragons from the Nguyen dynasty (19th  century) behind the Great Portico. On the two sides of the Great Portico are parallel sentences in Chinese. On both sides of main entrance are two sculptures depecting a scene of “carp and dragons in clouds” that symbolizes the efforts and successes of Confucian scholars in their studies and a carved scene of a “powerful tiger going down from the mountain”, representing the strength and power of intellectuals in helping their community.


The Front, The Four Pillars and “Hạ Mã” Steles.           

 

 

 

The Front of Van Mieu is spacious, making the vestige look holy and larger from a distance. This section has four large pillars with two “ Hạ Mã”(Horse Dismounting) steles on both sides.

The Four Pillars were built from brick, and on the top of the the higher middle pillars are two lions. The two other pillars are topped with four phoenixes in a charming position with out-stretched wings and tails huddled together.

 

The “Hạ Mã” steles were built before the entrance of Van Mieu to remind all people, including the emperor and high-ranking mandarins, to dismount from horses in respect before entering.


Van Lake and Giam Garden

 

One of  the traditional characteristics of Vietnamese architectural planning is that the environment be in harmony with the trees, water, and other buildings nearby. Temples, communal houses, and pagodas are normally one -story high, shaded by trees, and have a lake at the front of the main entrance gate. Quoc Tu Giam also bears those typical features.

Van Lake covers an area of 12.297 square meters, and in its center is Kim Chau Islet on which was a communal house which used to be a place for Confucian scholars in the Thang Long citadel to meet and recite poems. Nowadays, this house no longer exists. The Van Lake has been renovated, so today the lake looks much cleaner and appealing. In a forthcoming plan, the communal house will be reconstructed connecting the activities in this area with the ones in the Interior area.

Along with Van Lake, to the west of Van Mieu is Giam Garden whose many  structures and decorations  were added later: walls, trees, grass, flowers, walking lanes, and the Octagonal Pavilion in which traditional art performances take place.


Van Mieu Architecture

 

Văn Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam, which was founded in the late 11th Century, is situated to the south of the Thang Long  Imperial Citadel. This complex includes Van Mieu and Quoc Tu Giam. Van Mieu was constructed in 1070 under Ly Thanh Tong’s reign. In 1076, by the order of King Ly Nhan Tong, Quoc Tu Giam was founded behind Van Mieu. Through ups and downs in Vietnamese history, today the relic that is nearly 1.000 years old has had its architectual features of the Le and Nguyen Dynasty preserved in a good condition.

The complex covers an area of 54.331 square meters, including the Interior and Exterior Area. The Exterior Area includes Van lake and Giam garden. The Interior Area is divided into five sections, each of which is surrounded by a brick wall. Each of the sections has three gates, a bigger one in the center and two smaller ones to the sides. The five sections include Nhập Đạo courtyard, Thành Đạt courtyard (Great Success), Garden of Doctor Steles, Đại Thành courtyard and Thái Học courtyard

Văn Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam, which was founded in the late 11th Century, is situated to the south of the Thang Long  Imperial Citadel. This complex includes Van Mieu and Quoc Tu Giam. Van Mieu was constructed in 1070 under Ly Thanh Tong’s reign. In 1076, by the order of King Ly Nhan Tong, Quoc Tu Giam was founded behind Van Mieu. Through ups and downs in Vietnamese history, today the relic that is nearly 1.000 years old has had its architectual features of the Le and Nguyen Dynasty preserved in a good condition.

The complex covers an area of 54.331 square meters, including the Interior and Exterior Area. The Exterior Area includes Van lake and Giam garden. The Interior Area is divided into five sections, each of which is surrounded by a brick wall. Each of the sections has three gates, a bigger one in the center and two smaller ones to the sides. The five sections include Nhập Đạo courtyard, Thành Đạt courtyard (Great Success), Garden of Doctor Steles, Đại Thành courtyard and Thái Học courtyard.



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