Dien Khanh temple of literature

Dien Khanh town, Khanh Hoa province

  • Certification: 230826164740
  • National monuments

Temple of Literature was the place to worship Confucius, the founder of Confucianism. At the same time, it was also a place of activities for local scholars and academics, honoring those who have achieved success in academic exams.

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Confucianism was formed in ancient China, prevalent in East Asian countries and Vietnam. In our country, during the Ly - Tran dynasties, there was only Quoc Tu Giam Temple of Literature in the capital Thang Long. In the 15th century, there were Temples of Literature in localities. Along with the development of the country, the Nguyen Dynasty was really the heyday of the Temple of Literature. During this period, along with the birth of the Temples of Literature in the provinces throughout the country, the Temple of Literature of Binh Hoa town was born with our history and has existed up to this day.

In the national system of Temples of Literature, Khanh Hoa is still proud to preserve and promote the value of Confucian relics. Apart from two provincial relics namely Ninh Hoa Temple of Literature and Vinh Xuong Temple of Literature, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature is a national relic which reserves many historical and cultural values of the land of Frankincense.

In Le Quang Dinh’s “Hoang Viet Nhat Thong Du dia chi” (Hoang Viet Unified Atlas), in the section of Hoa My station, there is a passage stating: “Nhị thập tầm chí Toàn Thạnh cự dịch, lưỡng bàn khô, thổ hữu cư dân trù mật, tây biên bát thập tầm tiền triều ký lục dinh dinh tại thử, nhất bách cửu thập tầm chí cựu Văn Thánh miếu, Kim miếu di kiến tại Diên Khánh thành phụng tự[1].

Thus, before King Gia Long ascended the throne (in 1802), at Thai Khang Palace, there was a provincial Temple of Literature located in Phuoc An Commune, later known as Ninh Hoa Temple of Literature, Phuoc Ly hamlet, Ninh Binh Commune, Ninh Hoa town.

According to Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi book of the National History of the Nguyen Dynasty, “Temple of Literature: in Phu Loc commune, west of the province, built in the second Gia Long year (1803), restored in the second year of Tu Duc (1849)” . Thus, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature was built in 1803. Dien Khanh Temple of Literature also has other names: Temple of Literature in Binh Hoa town; Khanh Hoa Temple of Literature.

The stone stele at the Temple of Literature was erected on an auspicious day, in the month of Manh Xuan, in the 11th year of Tu Duc (1858) generally showing the process of its birth as follows: “The temple was built to worship our teacher. Our continent has never had it before. In the 6th year of Thieu Tri (1846), the governor of the province, Ngo Van Dich great man, the provincial mandarin Dang Trong Giam initiated it first, and built a temple that everyone everywhere worshiped. Until the first construction, it had not been decorated. In the 6th year of Tu Duc (1853), the Cinese Governor of our region was promoted to Criminal Judge, the young man Do Thuc Tinh took office at our land. He was industrious, honest and trusted and admired by all people. He also was good at  reviewing literature and feng shui, consulted with the Ninh Hoa mandarin Truong Duc Lan, convened Van Than Chau to move the altar to the east of the district. The young mandarin made leaflets to advise people in the county to contribute financial resources and work hard to build the temple. First they bought private land at this place, gathered workers, built a new foundation, and had roof tiled. In the 7th year (1854) in winter, the temple was completed. There is a place of worship, a place of contemplation; culture iss here, rules – disciplines and methods are here. Now it stands as a big and beautiful place of contemplation, left in the long time. So scholars of our region are very happy. From now on, the literary style has developed smoothly and well. Isn't it the place to do industry here? So it has to be carved in stone.”

Thus, based on historical documents as well as stele, we know that Binh Hoa Town Temple of Literature (later renamed Khanh Hoa Temple of Literature) was started in 1803, restored in 1846, restored for the second time in 1849. In 1853 the Temple of Literature was moved to the east of the district (present-day Temple of Literature), completed in the winter of 1854.

Temple of Literature was built based on the knowledge of feng shui and geography at that time. The ancients took the direction of the Rat-Horse (ie the North - South axis) as the main axis to build the Temple of Literature. Temple of Literature is located on a high ground, in front is a bend of Phu Loc river, behind is Dai Dien mountain. The ancient people who built the Temple of Literature intended to borrow mountains and rivers to remind them of Ni Son Mountain and Tu Thuy River in Shandong province (China) - the hometown of Confucius.

In 1948, during the resistance war against the French colonialists, the French army saw the important position of Van Mieu's topography, they stationed here and intended to build it into a garrison. Not to let the enemy take advantage, the elderly villagers carried out the “facility destroying”. The sacrifice at the Temple of Literature was temporarily moved to the Temple of Literature in Vinh Xuong district, facilitating the sacrifices as well as the activities of the nobles, celebrities, and intellectuals.

In 1959, Dien Khanh Confucian Association asked the government for permission to move the remaining facilities of Phuoc Dien Temple of Literature to rebuild on the land of Dien Khanh Temple of Literature, to restore and name it Dien Khanh Temple of Literature. Since then, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature is maintained by the elderly in the association as for offering sacrifices and incense every year.

Currently, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature is located in Phu Loc Tay 1 residential group, Dien Khanh town, Dien Khanh district. The Temple of Literature currently has one ancient stele which is valuable in many aspects: art, culture, history, science... and many great characters and couplets are decorated in the main hall.  Temple of Literature has Worship Hall and Main Hall; The truss and pillar system is carved, painted with red and gold. The main hall is used to worship Confucius, the left and right sides for worshiping the Four famous students of Confucius and the Ten Philosophers. Outside the yard, there are two rows of left and right houses, which are places to worship the founders, seniors; saints and ancestors.

In 2008, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature was renovated, keeping the structure as the architecture since 1959.

Under the feudal Nguyen Dynasty, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature was one of six places of worship in Khanh Hoa province listed in the “International” rule. The ceremony was organized by the feudal government: An official of the rank of Chief of Staff was assigned to take care of it, under the management of the Governor. Helping him are four people taking care of the rituals and other 30 “mieu phu” (temple workers) who are carefully selected. The temples workers are ‘exempted’, i.e. they do not have to participate in other works. Most of the people chosen to be the temple workers are Truong Lac people, while most of the “tram phu” here are from Phuoc Thanh and Phu Loc villages.

Every year, the Management Board of the relic organizes two big celebrations of the Holy Birthday and the Holy Death Day. The ceremonies are considerate and solemn.

Since 2004, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature has maintained the ceremony to award and give scholarships “Study and talent promotion” to poor and excellent students of Dien Khanh district and Khanh Hoa province on the Holy Death ceremony. Funding sources are mobilized by the Management Board from benefactors, the Study Promotion Association of Khanh Hoa Province and the Study Promotion Association of Dien Khanh District.

In 1998, Dien Khanh Temple of Literature was classified as a national relic.

[1] translation: “go about 20 “tam” (1 tam = 8 thuoc; 1 thuoc = 40cm)  to the old Toan Thanh; the land on both side of the roads are dried; the population is dense; go about 80 “tam” to the west you can see the office of clerk of the previous dynasty; go about 191 “tam” to the old Van Thanh Temple, which has been moved to Dien Khanh Citadel.”