Hanoi’s doctoral steles are ‘Memory of the World’

The doctoral steles of the Le and Mac Dynasties (1442-1779) at the Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature) in Hanoi have been recognized as a ‘Memory of the World’ by UNESCO.

Situated on Van Mieu Street, about two kilometers from Hoan Kiem Lake, the temple is also on top of the list for historical sightseeing in Hanoi.

The stone stele system is among the 45 new documented collections from all over the world, endorsed by the general director of UNESCO Irina Bokova on Thursday.

“By helping safeguard and share such a varied documented heritage, the UNESCO’s Memory of the World encourages the basis for scholarly work and enjoyment of the creative wealth and diversity of human cultures and societies,” she said.

Until now, 238 items covering all types of material and matter, including stone, celluloid, parchment and audio recordings have been listed in the ‘Memory of the World’ program.

Launched in 1992, UNESCO’s Global Memory of the World Program aims to guard against collective amnesia by preserving valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world.

The doctoral steles at the Temple of Literature were honored with the title ‘World Documentary Heritage’ by UNESCO last April.

Once visiting the temple, visitors will have a chance to learn more about the nation’s history when it was a land of Confucianism and traditional values.

In 1070, King Ly Thanh Tong built several important monuments, one of which was Van Mieu (the Temple of Literature). The organization of instruction and learning at the Quoc Tu Giam (National University) began in 1076 under the Ly dynasty and further developed in the 15th century under the Le dynasty. The university was established near the Temple of Literature, and during its more than 700 years of instruction (1076-1779), thousands of talented men in Vietnam were educated there. And hence the name Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam was born.

The temple is an example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture. The cultural relics include steles with inscriptions of the names of distinguished scholars, the Well of Heavenly Clarity (Thien Quang Tinh), the pavilion in dedication of the Constellation of Literature (Khue Van Cac), the statue of Confucius, the Great House of Ceremonies, the ancient wall, the old trees and the sanctuary, the stone dragons, and ink stone stands.

On Monday 82 stone steles exist in the temple. The steles are placed on the backs of stone turtle statues, a symbol of immortality.

Doctoral steles at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Tourists visit the stone steles at the Temple of Literature – Photos: Van Nam

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