Built in 1070, under the reign of King Ly Thong, the Temple of Literature is dedicated to Confucius. Confucianism believes in Humanism, the focus of spiritual concern is within the world and family, not the praising of gods and afterlife. Confucianism do not exalt faithfulness of the divine will or higher law, it primarily focuses on the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavors, self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucians focus on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics. The grounds of the Temple of literature are inspired by Confucius birthplace, covering over 54000 square metres, including the Literature lake, Giam park and the interior courtyards, The first courtyard extends from the Great Portico to the Great Middle gate Dai Trung, edged by two smaller gates the “Attained Talent” and the “Accomplished Virtue.” The second courtyard contains the Constellation of Literature pavilion, containing the “Crystallization of Letters” and the “Magnificence of Letters” gate dedicated to the beauty of literature. The third courtyard is the” Well of Heavenly Clarity”, which houses the treasures of the temple, the doctors steles. The turtle is one of the nation’s four holy creatures, It’s symbolizes longevity and wisdom, the shape and size of the turtle changes throughout its passage of time, shifting and adapting to its environment. The dragon, the unicorn and the phoenix are also holy creatures, revered and praised throughout Vietnam, and encountered throughout the Temple complex. In 1484, King Lê Thánh Tông erected 116 steles of carved blue stone turtles with elaborate motifs to honour talent and encourage study. The doctors steles depict the names and birth places of 1307 graduates of 82 triennial royal exams. The fourth courtyard is entered through the “Gate of great synthesis”, on either side are two smaller gates, “Golden Sound” and “Jade Vibration.” In the centre of the fourth courtyard is the “House of Ceremonies” and the “Dai Thanh sanctuary”, where Confucius and his four closest disciples Yanhui, Zengshen, Zisi and Mencius are worshipped. Just before the Vietnamese New Year celebration Tết, calligraphists will assemble outside the temple and write wishes in Han tu (script of Confucian scholars) inspiring and honoring the great Confucius.
” I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there” By Confucius
This magnificent temple is a testimony of love and dedication to education and the elevation of one’s essence. As I unravel this country’s complexity and history, I am marveled by its beauty and teachings.
©Chloe Garcia Ponce – All Rights Reserved