Huyen Khong pagodas offer tranquility calligraphy lessons

Published:  17:00 Friday - September 23, 2005

Huyen Khong pagodas offer tranquility calligraphy lessons

The former imperial capital of Hue has many pagodas, each designed differently, and all offering tranquility and an escape from the bustling former imperial city in the central region. At one of them, visitors can even get some valuable lessons in calligraphy.

Besides Hue’s well-known pagodas, including Thien Mu and Tu Dam, Huyen Khong and Huyen Khong Son Thuong are well worth the trip. They are both in Huong Tra district, some 12 kilometres from Hue.

The road, located upstream the Huong (Perfume) River, first leads to Huyen Khong, or Huyen Khong I, a Nam Tong Buddhism pagoda in Nham Bien hamlet.

Nam Tong is a small, conservative branch of Buddhism following the Pali scriptures and the non-theistic ideal of self-purification to nirvana.

Huyen Khong is built with concrete, iron and steel, in harmony with the architectural styles of the ancient capital, as well as the picturesque scenery of the suburban area where it is located. Bas-reliefs featuring images of the four supernatural creatures – dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix – decorate the main temple.

Next to it is a lush green garden called Thanh Tam, which can be roughly translated as "pure mind". On the main temple’s right is a Japanese style house called Yen Ha Cac, decorated with pot plants and orchids.

The second Huyen Khong pagoda is Huyen Khong Son Thuong, or Huyen Khong II, a complex of cottages located on Hon Vuon mountain, 309 metres above sea level in Huong Ho commune. Residents of the pagoda have planted 60,000 pine trees, creating a 56-hectare evergreen forest at the foot and up the slope of Hon Vuon - a mountain with thousands of pine trees called Van Tung Son by locals.

Almost 20 monks who study at the Huyen Khong Buddhism Institute can mediate or practice Buddhist contemplation at the cottages scattered in the forest.

Visiting Huyen Khong II, visitors can not only enjoy the tranquil and warm atmosphere but also talk to experienced monks about the art of calligraphy, painting, photography and poetry.

Monk Gioi Duc, an expert on literature and poetry, published poems and articles on Buddhism in the Song Huong magazine and other local newspapers.

Visitors to Huyen Khong II can see calligraphy works by Gioi Duc, Thich Phuoc Thanh and many other calligraphers in Hue, which are displayed at a thatched cottage named May Tia (purple cloud) on Minh Duong Lake in front of the main temple.

Poets and calligraphers from Hue and many other parts of the country also meet at the cottage to recited poems and create calligraphy works on different materials, such as giay do (poonah paper), silk or wood.

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