The Temple of Literature – an open book
Posted On Tue, Dec 16, 2014 by Le Cam Le
Court yard Temple of Literature - Hanoi city tour
Temple of Literature
added to this unique stone record.

There are 82 steles in total and they stand on either side of the Heaven’s Light Well (Thien Quang Tinh) – the most historically significant area of the temple – an in the Imperial Academy (Quoc Tu Giam). Throughout the highs and lows of Vietnam’s history, the steles have become a precious cultural resource and have helped Vietnamese understand their country’s literature, sculptures, paintings, fine arts and, most importantly, their history.

The old Chinese-Vietnamese letters engraved on the historic slabs are still readable. They sing the praises of the kings’ talents and virtues, reflect the social and political situation at the time of each exam and outline the demands of educating talented people. The steles have been listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World register and in March 2010 the organization also recognized the temple and its monuments as an official World Documentary Heritage Site. It is a timely honor for Hanoi, as the city celebrated its 1000th anniversary in October 2010.
Hanoi’s world-famous Temple of Literature attracts visitors with its tantalizing glimpse back to a time when Vietnam’s unstoppable pursuit of knowledge began to come to the fore.

Vietnamese believe it brings luck to touch the head of one of the stone turtles inside Hanoi’s Temple of Literature (Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam), either on the first day of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year or before exams, especially university entrance ones. Stone slabs engraved with the names of those who passed the notoriously difficult
court examinations more than five centuries ago sit on the backs of the turtles. These unusual monuments, or steles, are a continual reminder of the 940-year-old temple’s philosophy: without intelligence and knowledge, a country cannot develop and become wealthy. The name of the first scholar to pass the exam was engraved in 1442, and this stele has become a sacred symbol of the Vietnamese people’s fondness for learning and intelligence. From 1442 until 1770, under the early Le, Mac and late Le dynasties, the names of another 2312 successful students were
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