Vietnamese temple architecture – The mystery of spiritual life
Vietnamese traditional architecture is always an interesting thing for tourists around the world due to its sculpture and decoration as well as the mystery of the spiritual life. Keeping its spirit, Vietnamese temple architecture has an attraction in its special design. To the tourists, it is a wonderful place to learn more about local architecture. However, to the local people, it is a sacred place to remember their national heroes and the ones who had an important impact on their life.
The spiritual meaning of the Vietnamese temple
If you have been to Vietnam, you might wonder why there are so many temples either in the city or in the countryside. It is the result of the unique culture of the local that has lasted for thousands of year. Therefore, the Vietnamese temple architecture also indicates the long historical culture of Vietnam.
According to historical research, the very first temples in Vietnam appeared in the agricultural villages of the Vietnamese in the northern plain and mid-land. These temples were used for worshipping those who had a great contribution to the country. Additionally, the locals say that these national heroes do not die, their soul mergers into the mountains and soil. Therefore, having a temple is a good way to make a residence for them to come back and stay. As a result, the Vietnamese temple architecture must show respect and admiration of the local people to the heroes. By taking care and worshipping the heroes in the temples, the local people usually wish for a better life with luck, happiness and convenience.
The Vietnamese temple architecture
The location of a Vietnamese temple
Most of the Vietnamese temple architecture has the northern direction so that it is suitable for the weather and geography of the country. Besides the direction, the local people also consider the location of the temple. It must be in a high location where there is a river or a lake in front of it. If there is no natural river or lake, the local people will make it by themselves. Especially, the local people strictly forbid to build houses in front of the temple or the gate of a local house is not allow to opposite to the temple gate.
The architecture of a Vietnamese temple
The common of Vietnamese temple architecture follows the feudal architecture. There is a triple gate in front of the temple. Stepping across the triple gate, there will be the main yard with a lake. The main part of the temple includes 4 sub-parts which shapes as the T letter. They are “Tien Te”, “Ta Vu” (means the left side house”, “Huu Vu” (means the right side house) and “Hau Cung”.
The triple gate
The Vietnamese temple architecture is impacted strongly by the Buddhist culture. Every temple in Vietnam has a triple gate architecture (Tam Quan gate). It is the Buddhist architecture that means three gates of liberation. In the past, the main door of this triple gate was only for King. The right and left doors were used for mandarins. Nowadays, when visiting the temples as well as pagodas in Vietnam, the locals use two doors on the left and right side instead of the main door. They say that, if you enter through the left door and leave through the right one, you can bring happiness and luck from the temple and pagoda to your home.
The main yard
As the traditional Vietnamese temple architecture, this main yard must include a lake or a well. It is a conception of the local people. A well or a lake in the yard in front of the house helps to keep the unluck away and bring the luck to the house’s owners.
Moreover, the main yards also takes a very important role in feng shui of the house. If a yard is bright, airy and open, the feng shui of that house is good which can bring the wealth. In contrast, if the yard is close and gloomy, there is nothing good for the house.
>> Read more about Vietnam traditional house architecture.
Four main parts of a Vietnamese temple
The first part of a Vietnam temple architecture is “Tien Te” which is the very first space in-house. It is usually for the statues and is a place for people to come to send their wishes. Moreover, if you enter deeper into the temple, there is a higher place to take reverent care of the ancestors. “Ta Vu” and “Huu Vu” are the two side of the temple which make the whole temple become holier. “Hau Cung” is a place to store stuff and prepare for the worship.
In total, a Vietnamese temple architecture is affected by many factors which are Buddhism, feudalism and the feng shui theory. As the reason that this is a very holy place for the local people to send their wishes and show their respect to the ancestor, these architecture characters still remain until today. Therefore, it has become an extraordinary culture of the local.