Temple or Pagoda?

Courtyard ground covered with coils of incense drying. The Khánh Pagoda, as it is known locally, with its courtyard covered in incense coils lying in the sun to dry. If lifted from the centre these become spirals as seen in the An Các Pagoda. (Right-hand top picture in the blue vase.) They burn for extremely long periods - up to two days The temples and pagodas of Vietnam do not assail you as they do in Laos or Thailand, they are nevertheless surprisingly ubiquitous. The surprise is not least beacuse Vietnam is a very secular country. Their ubiquity is complicated by a puzzle presented to foreigners, for we meet both 'temples' (Đền) and 'pagodas' (Chùa). The word pagoda is used as the translation for Buddhist centres, while a temple denotes a building in honour of a famous person, possibly semi-mythical, but often modern, such as Hồ Chí Minh. This page has some examples, from the district of Tĩnh Gia, of buildings that describe themselves as temples, but also of establishments which are not clearly one or the other. Starting with the Khánh Pagoda, as it is locally known. Below is its name plate, so you can see that officially it is both a temple and a pagoda. The Khanh Pagoda among the palm trees reflected in the river. The Khánh Pagoda sits beside a backwater of the River Lạch Bạng, a little upstream of Hải Thanh and about four kilometres south of Tĩnh Gia in Thanh Hoá Province, Vietnam The buildings name plaque by the gate. By the entrance to the pagoda a plaque announces: 'The Peoples' Committee of Bình Minh [Local district]. Historic Buildings. Khánh Trạch Temple. Thiên Vương Pagoda' Dragons on the roof ridge. The entrance gate to the Khánh Pagoda, with the name plaque, here hiding in dappled shadows A dragon on the corner of the roof. Roof dragons protect buildings... Main arched entrance. ...such as pagodas and temples, as well as palaces Standing female buddha. The courtyard Buddha... Guardian warrier with pike in niche. ...and a courtyard guardian Shrine room with woman attendent and two people sitting in front of the altar. A pagoda assistant helps with the presentation of offerings at an outer altar Extremely elaborate gilt and red main altar with two people and child in front of it. Main altar and part of room. Side altar with large varses of flowers. Three images of the main altar. Maybe unstinting is the best word for the use of red and gold. And to the right, a side altar. A closer view of the main altar. Plain cloured urn for incense sticks with courtyard behind. After the extravagant use of gold and red inside the building, this urn, with its sand to hold offerings of incense sticks, seems restrained by comparison Balustrade formed by rippling dragon. From roof to ground dragons adorn pagodas. They are commonly used to form balustrades Four mortar shaped vessels. Intriguingly these appear to be either 'singing bowls' or pestles and mortars! The sign says that the altar is dedicated to the 'three treasures' of Buddhism Man writing in donations ledger at table with doner and attendent sitting. Donations and offerings are received and recorded. A stone plaque in the grounds shows financial donations for the years 2005/7 given to the pagoda from social groups and families... Large black marble wall plaque with many scores of donor's names and the amount given. ...these are largely modest gifts, the cost of breakfast for three people, but writ in stone Below photographs taken in the area of Tĩnh Gia of three 'temples' - therefore dedicated to people. Temple with gate standing open. Close up of the temple gates. Left and above, the rather imposing gates of the
Lê Hữu Chi III temple which lies in the
new suburb to the south of Tĩnh Gia
Courtyard of the Le Truong Loi temple. Below and right, this little temple - Đềnn Thờ - is well tucked away from any thoroughfare, although its dedication above the gate is to no less than Lê Trương Lơi, the founder of the state Plaque above the gate. Elaborate entrace to the Xa Hai Yen. And here the building is dedicated to both secular and non-secular remembrance. The Xã Hải Yến is another new development, having been completed in the last 10 years The left panel from beside the entrance gate. Traditional classical motifs at the... Three bicycles parked in the courtyard with Buddha statue beyond. Bicycles parked in the courtyard The right panel from beside the entrance gate. ...gate, given a rather kitsch re-working The three altars. Above, the central altar, with its two side altars - shown again below The left side altar. The right side altar. The proliferation of temples and pagodas in recent years, and the way the two are elided, so lessening their religious impact, is noticeable. Maybe after an era of, sometimes, stern secularism the contemporary mood is more fluid Trailers... Family group lunching beside grave. The next page of this section will move from public places of devotion, to a family's private memorials. Carving Buddhas, tools laid out. The next page of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Ready-to-hand'.
Or go to the contents Go to the contents of the Mosaic Section. of the Mosaic Section.
Saturday 22nd May 2021 Murphy on duty ...guide to this site

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