RELICS

Perhaps visitors to the Văn Miếu-Quốc Tử Giám will immediately recognize the artistic architecture named Khuê Văn Các, the symbol of Hanoi capital.

 Do you find this camera angle familiar? This is a favorite angle for many tourists, especially students.

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The brick wall around the Văn Miếu-Quốc Tử Giám

     Along with the urbanization process from the French colonial period, the Site has changed a lot: Văn lake was separated from the Site by Quốc Tử Giám street running through, part of the foundation of Quốc Tử Giám school was demolished to make way for a road to run through (now Nguyễn Thái Học street)... In the early 1990s, the Site was seriously degraded, the foot of the brick wall sank while many parts of it cracked ... In 1995, in a project to restore the Văn Miếu - Quốc Tử Giám, the whole wall was repaired and built to a height of 1.98m.

      Today, the wall is still there separating the Site from noisy streets. It also separates each area in the Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám. One after another visitors can visit each area, each of which represents each stage of the development of the Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám during the rise and fall of the nation.

The brick wall stands out from the green background of the trees.

 

The wall separates Giám park from the inner areas

 

The wall separates Thành Đạt area from the Doctor Stele garden.

Bird of Paradise flowers beside the wall

The wall as seen from Giám park

CT

 


KHUÊ VĂN CÁC – BIỂU TƯỢNG CỦA THỦ ĐÔ NGÀN NĂM VĂN HIẾN

Khuê Văn Các là một công trình kiến trúc thuộc khu di tích Văn Miếu - Quốc Tử Giám (Hà Nội). Từ năm 1999 , Khuê Văn Các đã được Thành phố Hà Nội chọn làm biểu tượng chính thức của Thủ đô.

Khuê Văn Các – Biểu trưng của nền văn hóa, giáo dục Việt Nam

Khuê Văn Các nằm trong khu di tích Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám, nơi được coi là trường đại học đầu tiên của Việt Nam. Được xây dựng vào năm 1805 dưới thời vua Gia Long, Khuê Văn Các cũng là hình ảnh đặc trưng nhất, in đậm trong tâm trí người Việt nhất mỗi khi nhắc đến Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám. Chọn Khuê Văn Các làm biểu tượng của thủ đô Hà Nội là trân trọng và phát huy truyền thống văn hiến, tinh thần hiếu học của người Việt Nam, thể hiện tầm nhìn về giáo dục trong giai đoạn hiện nay.

Khuê Văn Các - Phong cách kiến trúc đặc trưng của văn hóa Việt Nam

Gác Khuê Văn thể hiện sự khiêm cung, có kiến trúc đối xứng, giản dị và tao nhã với hai tầng tám mái. Tầng gác bên trên có kết cấu bằng gỗ, bốn góc có hàng lan can gỗ con tiện. Mái ngói được nâng bởi những giá gỗ đơn giản, thanh thoát và vững chắc. Khuê Văn Các có bốn mặt, mỗi mặt đều có một cửa tròn với những thanh gỗ nhỏ chống tỏa ra bốn phía. Cửa sổ hình tròn cùng những thanh gỗ chống con tiện này tượng trưng cho sao Khuê đang tỏa sáng. Mặt chính diện, phía trên sát mái có treo một biển đề ba chữ “Khuê Văn Các” được sơn son thếp vàng. Trên công trình này có chạm khắc những vế đối hay ca ngợi nền văn hoá Việt Nam và Gác Khuê Văn như: “Đất nước thái bình thịnh trị nhờ văn hoá được coi trọng” hay “Sao Khuê chiếu sáng trên bầu trời, nền nhân văn rạng rỡ khắp nơi”. Khuê Văn Các có kiến trúc dạng cổ lầu, nhỏ nhắn và đơn giản. Đây là kiểu kiến trúc rất đặc trưng của văn hóa Việt Nam.

Trở thành biểu tượng của thủ đô Hà Nội

Năm 1999, tại kỳ họp thứ 14 Hội đồng Nhân dân thành phố Hà Nội đã thông qua Nghị quyết về việc công nhận Khuê Văn Các tại Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám làm biểu tượng của thành phố Hà Nội. Vào ngày 21/12/2012, Luật Thủ đô được thông qua trong kì họp thứ 4 Quốc hội khóa XIII, Khuê Văn Các tại Văn Miếu - Quốc Tử Giám tiếp tục được chọn làm biểu tượng của Thủ đô .

Kể từ khi Khuê Văn Các được công nhận là biểu tượng của Hà Nội, biểu trưng Khuê Văn Các đã trở thành hình ảnh thân thuộc của Thủ đô ngàn năm văn hiến.

Trương Thanh Vũ


THE SCULPTURES OF “THE FATHER TEACHES HIS SON”

    When you enter Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám you will see the four Pillars. The four sides of two middle pillars are decorated with the holy animals such as dragon, unicorn, turtle, and the Pheonix. But these sculptures of holy animals are carved in pairs: father and son. This is the motif of “the Father teaches his son.”

    The Sculptures of “the Father teaches his son” on the Four Pillars represent the legends such as: "Old dragon is training his son", "unicorn is training his son", "Old turtle is teaching his son” "Phoenix is training his son". The motifs show the image of a larger animal at the top turning the head as if talking to a little one below. The artist has clearly created each feature on the body of each sacred animals and carved exquisitely the movements of dancing and flying expressing the strict but loving aspect of the father to his son.

    The beautiful meaning of the motifs of “the Father teaches his son” reminds every family to take care of their children's education. The opinion of the ancient is to highly appreciate the important role of family in education. Family education is the root of national prosperity.

    Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám was the most advanced training center of Vietnam during the monarchy, which honors the educational values of the Vietnamese nation. The motifs of “the Father teaches his son” appeared at the entrance of Văn Miếu – Quốc tử Giám showing the educational opinion of the ancients: education is the duty of the whole society. Today this opinion still holds true.

 

 

 

The Sculptures of “the Father teaches his son” on the Four Pillars

 

       

"Old dragon is training his son"

 

 

"unicorn is training his son"

 

 

"Old turtle is teaching his son”

 

 

"Phoenix is training his son".

LH


GIÁM GARDEN

The green space in the west of Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám is Giám Garden covering an area of 7,937 square meters.

During French colonial period, the appearance of Văn Miếu was changed, since the streets around Văn Miếu extended. When plans were adopted to reconstruct the capital (1888 – 1940), Giám Garden were not part of Văn Miếu.

 

Nhà bát giác

   

In 1899, the head of Managing Council of Văn Miếu sent letter to the Mayor of Hanoi for permission to annex the blocks around Văn Miếu to the relic. From 1899 to 1941, Giám garden was managed by the city. In 1941, Giám garden was transferred back to Văn Miếu. In 1940, the Hà Đông Provincial Chairman submitted an official letter requesting Hà Nội authorities fund the restoration of Giám garden and then turn it into a small park with surrounding walls, which the city could then use. City authorities, however, did not accept the request and asked the managing council of Văn Miếu to finance the restoration with their own funds. During the war and until 1980, Giám garden was used for a variety of inappropriate purpose, even as a market. The market consisted of stalls built without surrounding walls, supported by wooden columns and covered by corrugated iron roofs. Giám Garden was officially handed over to the Center for Scientific and Cultural Activities of Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám in August, 2002.

 

Bát Giác (Octagonal) Pavilion

    Nowadays, Giám Garden remains part of Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám. Giám Garden with trees, water, glass and Bát Giác (Octagonal) Pavilion affected the appearance of the site.

                                                                                                                                                                        

Translator: BP


THIÊN QUANG WELL

"Thiên Quang" well, also known as "Thiên Quang Tỉnh" is located in the center of Stone Stele Garden. The well is square; each of its sides is 30m long. The surrounding walls are made of bricks. This well is full of water all year round; its  water surface looks like a mirror reflecting the sky. "Thiên Quang" means "sunlight".

In terms of landscape planning, Thiên Quang well is in harmony with the Khuê Văn Các and stone steles nearby.  The reflection of Khuê Văn Các, stone steles and ancient trees in the well creates a beautiful scene, like a charming picture. This area is one of the ideal places in Văn Miếu-Quốc Tử Giám where visitors love to take pictures.

Below are some pictures of Thiên Quang well.

 

The reflection of Khuê Văn Các in Thiên Quang well

 

Thiên Quang well and Đại Thành gate

 

A corner of Thiên Quang well as viewed from the East

 

Kids love to watch Koi fish in the well

 

Students have a picture taken in front of Thiên Quang well and Khuê Văn Các

 

Visitors have a picture taken in front of Thiên Quang well and Khuê Văn Các

CT


ĐẠI TRUNG GATE

From the main gate of the Temple of Literature, there are three paved roads. The center road leads to Dai Trung gate and the two small roads on both sides lead to two small gates named Thanh Duc and Dat Tai.

 

 

Dai Trung gate has architectural style of the post-Le period. The building is designed with three sectors without doors. The high ground is paved with Bat Trang bricks, lined with stones, elevated with stairs creating a sense of solemnity. The roof is decorated with tiles curved upwards. On both sides of the main gate, there are three pillars in a row. The middle pillar supports the roof. Two carps are embossed on the roof, reminiscing the legend "Carp jumping over the Dragon Gate", symbolizing the spirit of overcoming difficulties and the perseverance to acquire knowledge to reach success. All throughout history, students who want to succeed in studying must be diligent and push themselves to the limit. The names of the two small gates Thanh Duc and Dat Tai means to educate people to be virtuous, talented and helpful to society.


NHẬP ĐẠO COURTYARD

Nhập Đạo (Entrance to the Way) is the first courtyard. The first lesson for students to learn is how to behave respectfully. Acquiring knowledge comes later, with the final goal of becoming both talented and virtuous.

The Nhập Đạo courtyard is a relatively new architectural item built in nineteenth century under the Nguyễn dynasty (1802-1945). Similar to other walled courtyards, the garden in Nhập Đạo is symmetrically designed along a central axis. The central path (Hoàng Đạo) used to be for the king and high ranking mandarins, while the two side paths (Linh Đạo) were for the students and common people. The courtyard contains two ponds that, together with the tree planting, give the courtyard a spacious and fresh appearance.

The Nhập Đạo courtyard is connected to the next courtyard by three gates, or doors, that have names symbolic of advancing wisdom. At the centre is Đại Trung Môn (Great Middle Gate) while to the left is Thành Đức (Accomplished Virtue) and to the right Đạt Tài (Attained Talent).


GREAT PORTICO OF VAN MIEU

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 large in both height and width, and bears three Chinese characters- “Văn Miếu Môn” (Great Portico of Van Mieu) on the top 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.

(The Great Portico of The Văn Miếu-Quốc Tử Giám)

In front of Van Mieu’s Great Portico are two stone dragons in the architectural style of the Le dynasty (15th century) and behind it are another two stone dragons from the Nguyen dynasty (19th century). On the two sides of the Great Portico are parallel sentences in Chinese. There are two Friezes to the right and left of the central arch. One shows an ascending dragon symbolizing endeavour and success in studying and another shows a tiger descending from a mountain symbolizing the strength and power of intellect bringing help to humanity.

( A stone dragon in the architectural style of the Le dynasty (15th century))


“HẠ MÔ STELE AT THE TEMPLE OF LITERATURE
In front of the entrance to the Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu - Quốc Tử Giám), there are two steles located on both sides, engraved with the word “Hạ mã”, which means getting off a horse.
The stele was erected in 1771 by Nguyễn Hoản - the vice principal of Quốc Tử Giám. The stele, which is erected on a pedestal in a small shelter, is very harmonious with its surroundings.
In the past, along with The Four Brick Pillars placed in front of the Temple of Literature, the “Hạ mã” stele is considered an icon horizontally bounding the site. The "Hạ mã" steles were erected to remind passersby, from servants to emperors, to get off the horse and walk at least the distance between the two steles to pay homage to the Saints.

(The “Hạ mã” stele)
The “Hạ mã” stele is not a place of worship and should be preserved like other artefacts of the Temple of Literature.


One of the distinctive features of traditional Vietnamese environmental planning is the way in which a balance is achieved between fluid water and solid buildings. There has always been a lake in front of the Văn Miếu. The Văn Lake (Literature Lake) in former times was not separated from the Văn Miếu by a busy road, as it is today. In the past the Văn Lake was spacious with Kim Châu islet at the centre. Under the Nguyễn dynasty, a communal hall (Văn Hồ Đình) covered with tiled roofs was built on the islet for literary activities. Confucian scholars used to discuss literature and recite poems in this hall.

(Văn Lake as seen from above)

(Spring Calligraphy Festival organized at Văn Lake)

(Learning from outdoor activities organized at Văn Lake)
The Văn Lake and its surrounds were restored by the Nguyễn dynasty in 1883. Later, the lake came under the management of Hanoi’s municipal council. In 1940, the lake was returned to the Văn Miếu. Later, it became overgrown with shrubs and bushes and encroached upon by shops and houses. By 1990 the lake was almost totally hidden from view by recent buildings and a plant nursery.
Because of the Văn Lake’s importance, the Hanoi People’s Committee funded its restoration in 1998. It is now open again to the general public and complements the four pillars and grand entrance to the Văn Miếu. Many important cultural activities take place here, such as a poetry festival and a calligraphy festival in spring.


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.

 


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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