Xich Dang Temple of Literature – Place to Honor Hung Yen’s Intellectual Elite
Hung Yen, a countryside known as "Flourished" and "Peaceful", is the hometown of many famous academics. Hung Yen inhabitants are always proud of Xich Dang Temple of Literature – the place to converge intellectual elite and education. The Literature Temple of Hung Yen is called Xich Dang, because it was built on the ground of previous Nguyet Duong pagoda in the past at Xich Dang commune, Lam Son ward, Hung Yen city.
According to conventional language of people, Nguyet Duong pagoda had 36 roofs; it was built by Thien Hai bonze in 1701. Passing through vicissitudes of time and historical events, the pagoda no longer exists; however, Phuong Truong tower and Tinh Man tower are two remaining traces up to now.
Xich Dang Temple of Literature is the place to worship Confucius – the founder of Confucianism and his excellent students including Manh Tu, Tang Tu, Tu Tu and Nhan Tu. Moreover, the middle of the room is the place to worship Chu Van An, a talent and moral teacher of Tran Dynasty, who is honored “the ancestor of Confucianism in Vietnam”. Two bronze statues were sampled from the Temple of Literature (Quoc Tu Giam, Hanoi) and were donated in 2003.
According to the inscription on the bell, Hung Yen Literature Temple were constructed from 1804. However, it was not until the 20th year of King Minh Mang (1839), the Literature Temple was rebuilt with the current beautiful and large scale.
Before coming to the main area of the Literature Temple, visitors can see the Three-door Entrance Gate. Standing on the upstairs of the Gate, visitors can view the landscape of the city. Passing the Gate, there is a large ground with the crossroad where “Thi Huong” (examination at provincial level) was held to select talent people. Also, there are 02 houses on two sides of the ground. In the past, these houses were used to keep palanquin and clothes of mandarins before offering ceremony. Today, these houses are the places to display images of Hung Yen education from the past to now. The main area of Xich Dang Temple of Literature was built based on the imperial palace’s architecture of Nguyen Dynasty, including front worship room, middle hall and harem.
The most valuable items of the Literature Temple are 09 stone steles, 08 of which were built in the 3rd year of King Dong Khanh (1888), and the remaining stele was built in the 18th year of King Bao Dai (1943). These steles were inscribed with the names of 161 talented scholars of Ancient Son Nam (Hung Yen had 138 scholars). The provinces own many scholars are Van Giang, Van Lam, An Thi, Yen My, Kim Dong, etc. The Duong family name in Lac Dao-Van Lam has 09 scholars, the Hoang family name in An Thi has 05 scholars, and the Le family name in Yen My has 06 scholars. More interestingly, those steles were built in order to honor scholars and their descendants can be proud of them whenever the descendants come to Xich Dang Temple of Literature. 09 stone steles are art works marking vicissitudes of time; they were carved carefully and beautifully. Among the scholars of Hung Yen, Doctor Duong Phuc Tu (Lac Dao – Van Lam) and Doctor Tong Tran (An Cau – Phu Cu) are the highest ranking scholars. The locality’s highest-leveled mandarin is Le Nhu Ho (Tien Lu) – a duke of Mac Dynasty, Nguyen Trung Ngan (Tho Hoang – An Thi) – a prime minister of Tran Dynasty, and so on.
Currently, Xich Dang Temple of Literature still preserves many parallel sentences and sayings to praise Confucianism and Confucius’s talent such as “Van The Su Bieu” (the outstanding teacher of many generations) and “Dao Quan Co Kim” (the morality of the past and today).
Xich Dang Temple of Literature was recognized as “historical and cultural relic” at national level by the Ministry of Culture – Information (now is Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) in 1992. Every year, there are many activities held in this place such as praising good students, Ca Tru singing, recitation and calligraphy. Xich Dang Temple of Literature has become a symbol and is a place to honor Hung Yen intellectual elite. Visitors coming to Hung Yen usually visit Xich Dang Temple of Literature to pray good things for their families. They also desire that their children will pass examinations and be successful in work and life.