Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Temple of Literature

Why choose when you can have both?
Check out the fighter jet at the military museum next to the Highlands Coffee.
Thahn Minh Curry checks out his rice served in a coconut. I apologize for all the names I'm mispelling.

The Curry family and our friends from Holt Vietnam, Hanoi, joined us for dinner last night. Nanh (left) and Loan (right).
The highlight of today's wanderings was the Temple of Literature, Hanoi's most revered temple complex. It was dedicated in the year 1070 as both Vietnam's principal Confucian sanctuary and it's historical center of learning. The temple's ground plan was modelled on that of the Confucius' birthplace in Qufu, China and consists of a succession of 5 courtyards. In the third courtyard is the Well of Heavenly Clarity. To either side of the walled pond are 82 stone stelae mounted on tortoises. Each stele records the results of a state examination held at the National Academy between 1442 and 1779.

One of the gates in the Temple of Literature.
The Gate of Great Success brings you to the fourth courtyard and the main temple buildings. The National Academy was housed in the 5th courtyard. It is regarded as Vietnam's first university which was founded in 1070 to educate princes and high officials in Confucian doctrine. Later the Academy held triennial examinations to select the country's senior mandarins. These exams lasted up to 6 weeks and were an evaluation of poetic style as well as knowledge of the classical texts and administrative ability. Those who passed all stages were granted a doctorate. They were then eligible to sit for the palace exam, set by the king himself. Some years as few as 3 awards would be granted out of 6,000 applicants. At first only those of noble birth could sit for the exam. By the 15th century, the exams were open to all males ages 16 to 61 except "traitors, immoral people and actors."

Doctor as in Doctoral students, the mandarins that made it to the top!

One of the stele in the courtyard.

These bronze statues are over a thousand years old.

Look Chris, it's Mushu!

Look at this awesome tree! I found a frog hopping around in the roots.

Same tree from the other side. That's me under the tree, Maya in the courtyard.

A giant drum in the Temple of Literature.
We were treated to a free concert by these beautiful and enchanting sirens playing traditional musical instruments. My favorite is the one that looks like a horizontal bamboo xylophone but instead of striking it with a mallet, the musician claps her hands in front of each reed to make different notes. The longer the bamboo reed, the deeper the sound. I will try to upload a short clip for you to enjoy. We left the beguiling musicians after having purchased two CDs, two baby toys and a miniature bamboo xylophone. Even if we have to eat rice and mung beans the rest of the trip, I'd say the whole experience was worth it!

Maya's walks away from the temple with new toys.


paint-splashin' woman said...

Hello to you from far away Alaska.
It's so great reading about your trip and adventures with Maya.
Your photos are wonderful.....very heartwarming!

StaceynCorey said...

Looks like you're really enjoying your last few days in Hanoi. Love all the pics of your sweet Maya. She's certainly enjoying all the spoiling :)