Tay Phuong Pagoda, an exceptional sculpture museum
- on Oct 4, 2020       By: BN
About half an hour's drive from Hanoi, treat yourself to a memorable stopover at Tay Phuong Pagoda which is of great interest for its cultural and architectural richness, and for being one of the oldest of its kind in the country.
Nestled on Mount Cau Lau and served by 239 stone steps, Tay Phuong Pagoda, aka Sung Phuc, offers a pleasant landscaped setting surrounding a treasure trove of centuries-old religious antiquities. The date of the first bricks of Tay Phuong Pagoda probably date back to the 7th century. But it was in 1632, under the dynasty of King Le Than Tong, that its upper and lower temples were erected with a corridor associated with about twenty spans. Its superb current architectural heritage owes to renovations carried out throughout different eras, particularly those dating back to 1794, under the Tay Son dynasty.
It is made up of three parallel buildings along the side of the mountain, containing the wood sculptures of exceptional value. Each to their own style, they complement each other harmoniously in an extremely peaceful setting. Spanning two floors, these buildings boast a beautifully carved roof with traditional motifs, sacred flowers and animals, such as dragons, lions and phoenixes.
The bricks of the famous Bat Trang village, the round windows inspired by Yin and Yang and the wooden pillars placed on stones engraved with lotuses contribute to a great delicacy in the sobriety presented by all the works. Nourished by the secular soul, the exceptional aesthetic value of Tay Phuong Pagoda exudes the unsuspected skill of the carpenters of Chang Son Handicraft Village, one of the oldest in the country. We would like to highlight in particular the unique collection of 72 wooden statues, recognised as leading sculpture works at the national level. We find there all the states of heart that a human being experiences, happiness, misfortune, hope, despair... as each face tells you its own story. Some are of a remarkable size such as the eight statues of Kim Cuong and Ho Phap measuring 3 metres, reflecting immense generosity. The statues are, for the most part, dated from the end of the 18th century, the rest dating from the middle of the 19th century.
Let us also note the 18 statues of La Han or "Arhat" of the proportionate human size which are perfectly alive for their humour manifested in the smallest detail. If we allow ourselves to be unmistakably convinced by the aesthetic refinement presented by the faces of the statues, they do not fail to touch us with the mystical tales hidden in their eyes. The pagoda was classified as a national heritage site in 2014 for its exceptional architectural values.
Held on the 6th of the 3rd lunar month, its annual feast is not only awaited by pilgrims from all over, but also by many visitors for its program of activities,such as tug-of-war, cock fighting, water puppets, the singing of folk songs, and more.
Some 10 km from Tay Phuong Pagoda, Thay Pagoda, undoubtedly calm and picturesque, will also be a parenthesis to associate with your excursion in order to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere in the suburbs of the capital of Vietnam.
Location of Tay Phuong Pagoda: Thach Xa commune, Thach That district, about 40km West of central Hanoi.