Monday, September 22, 2008

Van Mieu

V?n Mi?u or Temple of Literature, known as "pagode des Corbeaux" during the period of French colonisation, is a temple of Confucius in Vietnam. The most prominent and famous is that situated in the city of Hanoi, although V?n Mi?u can be found throughout Vietnam.

V?n Mi?u, Hà N?i

It was founded in 1070 as a Confucian temple. Only parts of the V?n Mi?u complex date back to the earliest period, although much of the architecture dates to the and Dynasties.

In 1076 Vietnam's first university, the Qu?c T? Giám or , was established within the temple to educate Vietnam's , royalty and other members of the elite. The university functioned for more than 700 years, from 1076 to 1779. During that time 2,313 doctors graduated.

In 1484 emperor Lê Thánh T?ng started the tradition of carving the names of the laureates of the university on stone steles, which were placed on top of stone turtles. Of the 116 steles corresponding to the examinations held between 1142 and 1778, only 82 remain.

Description of V?n Mi?u

According to the book the Complete History of the Great Viet: "In the autumn of the year Canh Tuat, the second year of Than Vu , in the 8th lunar month, during the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature was built. The statues of Confucius, his four best : Yan Hui , Zengzi , Zisi , and Mencius , as well as the Duke of Zhou , were carved and 72 other statues of Confucian scholars were painted. Ceremonies were dedicated to them in each of the four seasons. The Crown Princess studied here."

This ancient Confucian sanctuary is now considered one of Hanoi's finest historical sites. The temple is based on Confucius' birthplace at Qufu in the Chinese province of Shandong. It consists of five courtyards lined out in order, entrance to the first, via the impressive twin-tiered V?n Mi?u gate, leads to three pathways that run the length of the complex. The centre path was reserved for the king, the one to its left for administrative Mandarins and the one to its right for military Mandarins. The first two courtyards are peaceful havens of ancient trees and well-trimmed lawns where scholars could relax away from the bustle of the city outside the thick stone walls.

Entrance to the third courtyard is through the dominating Khuê V?n Các , a large pavilion built in 1802. Central to this courtyard is the Thien Quang Tinh , either side of which stand two great halls which house the true treasures of the temple. These are 82 stones steles. Another 34 are believed to have been lost over the years. They sit upon stone tortoises and are inscribed with the names and birth places of 1306 men who were awarded doctorates from the triennial examinations held here at the Qu?c T? Giám between 1484 and 1780, after which the capital was moved to Hue.

The fourth courtyard is bordered on either side by great pavilions which once contained altars of 72 of Confucius' greatest students but now contain offices, a gift shop and a small museum displaying ink wells, pens, books and personal artifacts belonging to some of the students that studied here through the years. At the far end of the courtyard is the altar with statues of Confucius and his four closest disciples. The fifth courtyard contained the Qu?c T? Giám, Vietnam's first university founded in 1076 King Ly Can Duc, but this was destroyed by French bombing in 1947.

The complex may have undergone a lot of restoration work, most recently in 1920 and again in 1954, but has one of the few remaining examples of later L? Dynasty architecture within easy walking distance of Ba Dinh square.

Other V?n Mi?u

Other prominent Vietnamese V?n Mi?u are:

* V?n Mi?u Mao ?i?n, H?i D??ng,
* V?n Mi?u B?c Ninh
* V?n Mi?u Xích ??ng, H?ng Yên
* V?n Mi?u, Hu?
* V?n Mi?u Diên Khánh, Khánh Hòa
* V?n Mi?u Tr?n Biên, Biên Hoà city, ??ng Nai
* V?n Thánh Mi?u, V?nh Long
* V?n Mi?u, Ngh? An


Temple of Confucius

A Temple of Confucius or Confucian temple is a temple devoted to the memory of Confucius and the sages and philosophers of Confucianism.


The largest and oldest Temple of Confucius is found in Confucius's hometown, present-day Qufu in Shandong Province. It was established in 478 BC, one year after Confucius's death, at the order of the Duke Ai of the State of , who commanded that the Confucian residence should be used to worship and offer sacrifice to Confucius. The temple was expanded repeatedly over a period of more than 2,000 years until it became the huge complex currently standing.

The development of state temples devoted to the cult of Confucius was an outcome of his gradual canonisation. In 195 BC, Han Gao Zu, founder of the Han Dynasty , offered a sacrifice to the spirit of Confucius at his tomb in Qufu. Sacrifices to the spirit of Confucius and that of Yan Hui, his most prominent disciple, began in the Imperial University as early as 241.

In 454, the first state Confucian temple was built by the Liu Song dynasty of south China . In 489, the Northern Wei constructed a Confucian temple in the capital, the first outside of Qufu in the north. In 630, the Tang Dynasty decreed that schools in all provinces and counties should have a Confucian temple, as a result of which temples spread throughout China. Well-known Confucian shrines include the Confucian Temple in Xi'an , the Fuzi Miao in Nanjing, and the Confucian Temple in Beijing, first built in 1302.

In addition to Confucian temples associated with the state cult of Confucius, there were also ancestral temples belonging to the Kong lineage, buildings commemorating Confucius's deeds throughout China, and private temples within .


Most Confucianist temples were built in Confucian schools, either to the front of or on one side of the school. The front portal of the temple was called the Lingxing Gate . Inside there were normally three courtyards, although sometimes there were only two. However, the complex in Qufu has nine courtyards. The main building, situated in the inner courtyard with entry via the ''Dachengmen'' , was usually known as the ''Dachengdian'' , variously translated as "Hall of Great Achievement", "Hall of Great Accomplishment", or "Hall of Great Perfection". This hall housed the Confucius Ancestral Tablet and those of other important masters and sages. In front of the ''Dachengdian'' was the Apricot Pavilion or ''Xingtan'' . Another important building was the Shrine of the Great Wise Men , which honoured the ancestors of Confucius.

Unlike Daoist or Buddhist temples, Confucian temples do not normally have images. In the early years of the temple in Qufu, it appears that the spirits of Confucius and his disciples were represented with wall paintings and clay or wooden statues. Official temples also contained images of Confucius himself. However, there was opposition to this practice, which was seen as imitative of Buddhist temples. It was also argued that the point of the imperial temples was to honour Confucius's teachings, not the man himself.

The lack of unity in likenesses in statues of Confucius first led Emperor Taizu of the Ming dynasty to decree that all new Confucian temples should contain only memorial tablets and no images. In 1530, it was decided that all existing images of Confucius should be replaced with memorial tablets in imperial temples in the capital and other bureaucratic locations, a rule still followed today. However, statues remained in temples operated by Confucius's family descendants, such as that in Qufu.


The state cult of Confucius centred upon offering sacrifices to Confucius's spirit in the Confucian temple.

A dance known as the Eight-Row Dance, consisting of eight columns of eight dancers each, was also performed. Originally this was a Six-Row Dance, as performed for the lesser aristocracy, but in 1477 Confucius was allowed the imperial honour of the eight-row dance since he posthumously received the title of king.

In addition to worshipping Confucius, Confucian temples also honoured the "Four Correlates" , the "Twelve Philosophers" , and other disciples and Confucian scholars through history. The composition and number of figures worshipped changed and grew through time. Since temples were a statement of Confucian orthodoxy, the issue of which Confucians to enshrine was a controversial one.

By the , there were a total of 162 figures worshipped. The Four Correlates include Yan Hui, , Kong Ji, and Mencius. The Twelve Philosophers are Min Zijian, Ran Boniu, Zhong Gong, Cai Wo, Zi-gong, Ran You, Zi-Lu, Zi-You, Zi-Xia, Zi-Zhang, You Ruo, and Zhu Xi. A list of disciples of Confucius and their place in the Confucian temple can be found at Disciples of Confucius.

Confucian temples outside People's Republic of China

With the spread of Confucian learning throughout East Asia, Confucian temples were also built in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Starting in the 18th century, some were even built in Europe and the Americas. At their height, there are estimated to have been over 3,000 Confucian temples in existence.


The earliest recorded Confucian Temple in Vietnam is the Temple of Literature or Van Mieu in Hanoi, established in 1070. After 1397, with the construction of schools throughout Vietnam under the Tran, Confucian temples began to spread throughout the country. Well known Confucian temples were built in , Hoi An, Hung Yen, Hai Duong, and An Ninh.


Outside China, the largest number of Confucian temples is found in Korea. Temples were first built during the Goryeo period . In the time of Yi Seonggye , it was decreed that Confucian temples should be built in all areas of the nation. Although Chinese models were followed, variations in layout and construction were common, such as the building of schools in front of temples. Korea also added its own scholars to the Confucian pantheon.

Historically, Korea had a total of 362 temples devoted to the cult of Confucius. After World War II and the division of the country, those in the North were converted to other uses. However, many of the 232 temples in the South continued their activities . In addition to temples devoted to the cult of Confucius, the Republic of Korea also has twelve Confucian family temples, two temples in private schools, and three libraries.


Confucian temples were also widely built in Japan, often in conjunction with Confucian schools. The most famous is the Yushima Seido, built in 1630 during the Edo period as a private school connected with the Neo-Confucianist scholar Hayashi Razan. Originally built in Shinobi-ga-oka in , it was later moved to Yushima by the Tokugawa Shogunate and reopened as a school of Confucianism to spread the teachings of the Hayashi school.

Other well known Confucian temples are found in , Bizen , , and Naha .


The first Confucian Temple in Taiwan was the "Taiwan Confucian Temple" , which was built in the period of .


Confucian temples are also found in Indonesia, where they are often known as "Churches of Confucius" as Confucianism is a recognised religion in that country. In Chinese, these establishments are known as or "halls of worship". The largest and oldest is the Boen Bio in Surabaya, originally built in the city's Chinatown in 1883 and moved to a new site in 1907. There are reportedly more than 100 Confucianist halls of worship throughout Indonesia.


The first Confucian temple in Malaysia was built within a primary school known as Chung Hwa Confucian School in Penang, in the early 20th Century. The building of the school was initiated by the Qing dynasty ambassador to the British Straits Settlement at that time. In those days parents in Penang brought their children to this temple for prayer before they began their schooling. The children prayed for excellence in their studies.

There is also a Confucian school in Malacca where ceremonies in honour of Confucius are held annually.

Alternate names

In , Confucian temples are known as Kong Miao . Alternative names are:

* 文庙/文廟 literally "Culture temple" or "Temple of literature"
* 圣庙/聖廟 literally "Sacred temple" or "Sage temple"
* 夫子/夫子廟 literally "Master temple", derived from the full Chinese name of Confucius

Names in other countries of Asia are based on the Chinese names. For example:

* Korean: 孔子廟 , 文廟

* Japanese: 孔子廟 , 聖廟

* Vietnamese: V?n mi?u

* Indonesian: Boen Bio


*V?n Mi?u
*Yushima Seidō
*Taku Seibyō
*Taiwan Confucian Temple

Taku Seibyo

The temple, located in , Saga Prefecture is one of the oldest Confucian temples in Japan. Built in 1708, Taku Seibyō has been designated as an .


The Shiseibyo is a in the Wakasa district of Naha, Okinawa. It served for centuries as a major center of Chinese learning for the Ryūkyū Kingdom, and contains within its precincts the Meirindō, first public school in Okinawa.


The current temple was built in 1975, as a rebuilding of an older temple located a short distance away, near what is now a major highway, Japan National Route 58.

The original temple was built in 1671-75 as a gift to the Ryūkyū Kingdom from the Kangxi. It served as the primary Confucian temple of the kingdom, and would soon become a center of learning within Kumemura, the community of scholars and bureaucrats which was the center of Chinese culture and learning in the kingdom. In 1718, local official Tei Junsoku, magistrate of Kumemura, and something of an unofficial minister of education, established the Meirindō, the first formal educational institute in the kingdom, as a center of learning for the Kumemura community of scholar-bureaucrats.

Following the abolition of the kingdom and annexation of Okinawa by Japan in 1879, the Kumemura community, along with the Meirindō school and the temple as a whole, fell into decline. The Meirindō became a municipal office and public school.

The temple was destroyed in the 1945 battle of Okinawa and rebuilt in 1975 on the premises of the Tensonbyō, a smaller Confucian temple in the Wakasa area also destroyed in the battle.

Buildings and monuments

The temple grounds are small, covering roughly one or two acres. The central devotion hall, called ''Taiseiden'' , is a shrine not only to Confucius, but also to Chinese philosophers Zengzi, Zisi, Anzi, and Mencius.

A smaller building to the left of the entrance, called the Tenson-byō , is devoted to those who fought to defend the country, and to Guan Yu and the Dragon King, deities and figures in Chinese folklore and mythology. The Tensonbyō was located on this site prior to 1975, when the old Kumemura Confucian temple, destroyed in World War II, was rebuilt here as the Shiseidō, incorporating the Tensonbyō into the new facility. The Tenpigū next to it is devoted to , also called Matsu or Mazu, the Taoist goddess of the sea, of sailors, navigators, and fishermen.

The Meirindō lies to the right of the entrance, next to the temple offices, and currently serves as the meeting place for the local , and holds an archive of roughly 10,000 volumes ranging from historical documents related to the locality and to foreign trade, to schoolbooks.

Three memorial steles are located within the temple grounds: one to the Chūzan Confucian temple originally established in the 17th century as a gift from the Kangxi Emperor; one to Sai On, historian, government official, reformed, and royal regent at the time the temple was constructed; and one to Tei Junsoku, magistrate of Kumemura and educational force who established the Meirindō as a center of learning.

Confucius Shrine

Confucius Shrine in , Japan is said to be the world's only shrine built outside China by Chinese hands. Even today the land which it stands is Chinese territory and the land rights controlled by the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.
First built in 1893 by Chinese residents of Nagasaki with the support of the Ch'ing Dynasty government, the shrine was designed to serve as a place of worship and learning for the Chinese community, and housed a Confucian sanctuary and primary school.
The buildings were severely damaged by the atomic bomb explosion on August 9 1945 and were not restored and opened to the public until September 1967. The shrine was extensively renovated in 1982. Standing outside the shrine are 72 statues representing the 72 followers of Confucius.
A building at the rear of the shrine houses the Museum of Chinese History and Palace Museum. It features large illuminated photographs of the old Silk Road and models of early Chinese inventions such as the world's first seismograph. Displayed on the second floor are more than 80 treasure-class articles of varying antiquity on loan directly from the Chinese National Museum and Palace Museum in Beijing.

Taiwan Confucian Temple

The Taiwan Confucian Temple is a temple in Tainan City, Taiwan. Construction began in 1665, in the 19th year of the reign of the , during the Southern Ming Dynasty of China, by Zheng Jing, the son of Koxinga, following a suggestion by Chief Military Aide Chen Yonghua, and completed in 1666. The temple had a ''Guoxue'' on its grounds, which is reputed to have been Taiwan's first official Chinese school. It also had a Minglung Hall adjacent to the temple.

In 1685, during the 24th year of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, the Qing Dynasty official and Taiwan governor Jiang Yuying repaired and renamed the temple Xian Shi Sheng Miao , although it was popularly known as Wen Miao . The Taiwan Prefecture College was also established there.

The temple has been renovated several times over the past 300 years, most recently in 1917 and 1979. Some of its elements include the Stone Arch of Higher Learning and the East Ta Cheng Arch.

The temple serves as a popular tourist attraction and also preserves ancient Confucian ceremonies, which are conducted on a regular basis. The temple also includes storerooms for the ritual implements and musical instruments that are used in these ceremonies.

Yushima Seido

Seidō, located in the Yushima neighbourhood of , Tokyo, Japan, was constructed as a Confucian temple in the Genroku era of the Edo period .

Tokugawa bureaucrat training center

The Yushima Seidō has its origins in a private Confucian temple, the Sensei-den , constructed in 1630 by the neo-Confucian scholar Hayashi Razan in his grounds at Shinobi-ga-oka . The fifth shogun, Tsunayoshi, moved the building to its present site in 1690, where it became the Taiseiden of Yushima Seidō. The Hayashi school of Confucianism moved at the same time.

Under the Kansei Edict, which made neo-Confucianism the official philosophy of Japan, the Hayashi school was transformed into a state-run school under the control of the shogunate in 1797. The school was known as the Shōhei-zaka Gakumonsho or Shōheikō, after Confucius’s birthplace at Changping ==. During the time of the Tokugawa shogunate, the school attracted many men of talent, but it was closed in 1871 after the Meiji Restoration.

Yushima Seidō's hereditary rectors

* 1st: Hayashi Razan .
* 2nd: Hayashi Gahō .
* 3rd: Hayashi Hōkō .
* 4th: Hayashi Ryūkō .
* 5th: Hayashi Hōkoku .
* 6th: Hayashi Hōtan .
* 7th: Hayashi Kimpō .
* 8th: Hayashi Jussai ..
* 9th: Hayashi Teiu .
* 10th: Hayashi Sōkan .
* 11th: Hayashi Fukusai .
* 12th: Hayashi Gakusai .

Institutional history after 1871

Since the Meiji restoration, Yushima Seidō has temporarily shared its premises with a number of different institutions, including the , the Tokyo National Museum, and the forerunners of today’s Tsukuba University and Ochanomizu University .

The site of the school is now occupied by Tokyo Medical and Dental University.

The colour scheme of the original Taiseiden is believed to have been one of vermilion paint with verdigris. After being burnt down on a number of occasions, the Taiseiden was rebuilt in 1799 in the style of the Confucian temple in , which used black paint. This building survived through the Meiji period and was designated a national historical site in 1922, but was burnt down in the Great Kanto Earthquake of the following year. The current Taiseiden is in reinforced concrete and was designed by Itō Chūta.

Inside the compound is the world’s largest statue of Confucius, donated in 1975 by the Lions Club of Taipei . There are also statues of the Four Sages, Yan Hui, Zengzi, , and Mencius.

In the 1970s, the Taiseiden was used as the location for scenes in NTV’s television series.

Along with the nearby Yushima Tenmangū, the Yushima Seidō is a mecca for students praying for success in their examinations.


Ochanomizu Station and Shin-Ochanomizu Station are nearby.