Van Thanh Mieu
Van Thanh Mieu in the province of Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta is one of three Confucian temples of literature constructed in southern Vietnam in the 19th century.
The name of the temple, Van Thanh Mieu, means “a temple worshiping the holy literary genius,” the title that was posthumously conferred upon Confucius, who Vietnamese call Van The Su Bieu or “the eternal teacher.”
The Van Mieu in Vinh Long was built in 1864 and completed by the end of 1866 following the initiative of Phan Thanh Gian, a mandarin of the Nguyen Dynasty who was appointed as the education officer of Vinh Long in 1862.
In front of the temple is a large, three-entrance gate, called Tam Quan, with the middle door being twice as large as the side doors.At the top of the main entrance there are three Chinese characters, and below them is the Vietnamese transliteration – Van Thanh Mieu.On the two pillars of the gate is a pair of wooden panels inscribed with sentences extolling the talent and virtue of Confucius and the history of the temple.On the main path leading to the temple is a two-meter high stone created in 1867, inscribed with an essay by Phan Thanh Gian praising the builders of the temple.
The main area of the temple is reserved for worshiping Confucius and four of his most famous disciples – Yan Hui, Zeng Zi, Zisi and Mencius.There are also two altars dedicated to 72 outstanding students of Confucius, known as That Thap Nhi Hien or “the 72 talented persons”.On the right of the temple is a two-story building named Van Xuong Cac.
The first floor was used by intellectuals and Confucian scholars as a gathering place to read books and discuss literature and poetry.Vietnamese scholars such as Vo Truong Toan, Phan Thanh Gian, Nguyen Thong, Truong Van Uyen and Nguyen Tri Man are worshiped there.The second floor is used to worship Van Xuong De Quan, the deity dedicated to academic pursuits and examinations, as well as the happiness and prosperity of intellectuals.
Situated on the river bank between two rows of ancient trees, the temple has an ancient and tranquil beauty which puts visitors at ease as they view statues of talented intellectuals on the grounds of the temple.Every year, Van Thanh Mieu holds traditional ceremonies on the fourth and fifth days of the seventh lunar month to commemorate Phan Thanh Gian.The temple also holds rituals on the twelfth and thirteenth days of the tenth lunar month to worship high-ranking mandarins.In March 1991, it was recognized as a national historical relic by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Recently, the provincial People’s Committee agreed to invest VND1 billion (US$62,500) to the temple to encourage tourism and research.