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HUE VIETNAM (PHOTOS)

August 22, 2011

HUYEN QUANG (LY DAO TAI)

(1254-1334)

English

Dien Huu Pagoda

In the autumn night, the temple’s peal is fading

The moonlight comes down like waves, the maple leaves are bright red

The animal forms of the architecture throw their reflections onto the pond,

As if sound asleep upside down in a chilly square mirror

The two towers stand parallel in a pair like two icy jeweled fingers

Immunity to earthly entanglements is a barrier against the world of desires

Having no worries, one’s visions is widened

Understanding thoroughly that good and evil are of the same footing

One can see that the devil’s abode and Buddha Land are one.

Poem

Dien Huu Pagoda

The temple bell calls across the autumn night.

Moonlight flickers through groves of red maple.

A dragon’s feet on a temple pond, sleep gently upside down.

The pagoda’s towers, twinned in ice, poke at the air.

Don’t worry about what’s beyond the horizon,

Or contend with the world of desires.

Good and evil share the same hearth.

The Buddha’s land is one.

HUE  VIETNAM

Former capital of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, the royal city of Hue is situated on the country’s central coast, midway between Hanoi and  Ho Chi  Minh  City.

it is a serene place, a small city of canals boasting splendid historical sights, and is dominated by its massive Citadel, and the former Forbidden Purple City.Veterans coming back to Vietnam, might remember that most of its beautiful imperial architecture was destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, yet despite a tumultuous history it retains much of its cultural identity and has been recognized as a Cultural World Heritage Site. Some of the buildings have been refurbished or managed to escape damage. The Chinese-inspired architecture and the remaining statues and walls create an interesting look into the past. Some of the museum exhibits inside the complex are quite informative, giving visitors more than a cursory summary of historical events. Relics and exhibits on the clothing and culture of Vietnam’s imperial past are worth more than a glance. There are several entrances, the southern-most being the best, and nearest to the palace.

Hue is also an important center for Buddhism and hundreds of temples and pagodas exist around the city, such as the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the most famous structures in the country. The Perfume River lies between the city and the remains of the mighty Citadel with many attractions along its banks. Sampan boat trips on the river offer an enchanting way to see the main sights in and around Hue, including the splendid tombs of the Nguyen emperors a few miles south of the city. The tomb of Tu Duc and tomb of Khai Dinh are the most impressive of these compounds, the former overflowing with idyllic gardens, pavilions, and bridges.

The construction of Hue Citadel was commenced in 1801 by Emperor Gia Long. This followed a period during which the Nguyen Lords moved the capital around the surrounding area. Since the initial construction, the citadel has been altered and improved upon by a number of Emperors including Emperor Minh Mang, whose tomb is not far from modern day Hue city.

The French conquered Vietnam late in the 19th century, but decided to leave the Emperors in place as puppet rulers beholden to Paris. Reigning with the consent of the French, the Nguyens ruled as figurehead monarchs at the Hue Citadel till 1945, when Bao Dai turned over the reins of government to the revolutionary government of Ho Chi Minh.

The Hue Citadel is about 520 hectares in size, sitting close to the banks of the Perfume River. The inner sanctum is still open to the public as it undergoes continuous renovation. Most of the buildings were obliterated during the Tet Offensive in 1967, as American bombs helped push the invading North Vietnamese troops back to Hanoi.

NGO MON GATE – Entryway into Hue Citadel, Vietnam
HERE THE EMPEROR WOUD WATCH ALL PROYAL PROCEEDINGS AND WHERE THE LAST ABDICATED IN 1945
NGO MON GATE AS SEEN FROM THE INSIDE OF THE CITADEL
GATE IN FRONT OF THE THAI HOA PALACE – Thai Hoa Palace which is also known as the “Palace of Supreme Harmony. It is the most important place in the royal palace. Used for the King’s official receptions and other significant court rituals such as anniversaries and coronations, this palace is actually positioned on the Northern bank of Perfume River. “
Mosaic dragons and yellow enamelled roof tiles of the Thai Hoa Palace and Great Rites Court, Hue Citadel
BRONZE VESSEL CAST IN 1660 AND REPRESENTS THE SUCCESES. POWER, WEALTH AND LONG LIFE FOR THE DYNASTY
GILDED DRAGON AND DECORATIVE COLUMNS AT THE THAI HOA PALACE
DECORATIVE STREET LAMPS AT THE THAI HOA PALACE
DRAGON CERAMIC VASE AT THIEN THAI HOA PALACE
( DETAIL) DRAGON CERAMIC VASE AT THIEN THAI HOA PALACE
A BEAUTIFUL GATE AT THE CITADEL, HUE
HIEN NHAN GATE – A THREE DOOR TEMPLE GATE – (entrance to the To Mieu Temple, where Nguyen monarchs were worshipped)
GAZEBO WITH ROOF DRAGONS CITADEL, HUE
NEXT TO THE GAZEBO ONE CAN SEE THE ROYAL TENNIS COURTS IN THE BACK GROUND
THE EMPEROR’S PRIVATE LAKE AT THIEN THAI HOA PALACE
TO MIEU TEMPLE    CITADEL HUE
TO MIEU TEMPLE – long, low, red and gold To Mieu Temple itself. Inside are shrines to each of the emperors, topped by their photos. Under the French only the seven liked by the colonial power were thus honoured – Ham Nghi, Thanh Thai and Duy Tan were only added in 1959. The temple is flanked on the right by a small robing house and on the left by a shrine to a soil god..

BEAUTIFUL RED AND GOLD SHELLAC DOORS –  During the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), civil & military mandarins would pass through these doors of the Right House, and spruce themselves up before their audience with the Nguyen Emperor.
DUYET THI DUONG (ROYAL THEATER) – Located in the east of the Quang Minh Palace (Palace of Brightness) in the Forbidden Citadel, the Royal Theater was built by Emperor Minh Mang in 1826. It was large, rectangular-shaped with curved eaves, similar to those of Hue pagodas and communal houses, supported by two rows of iron-wood, red lacquered columns decorated with intertwined dragon and cloud designs. On each column hung a painting of Hue scenery in a golden frame, carved with dragon designs. The sky-blue ceiling above was painted with figures of sun, moon and stars, symbolizing the universe. The building was connected with the royal living quarters by snaky roofed galleries. A square-shaped stage occupied the central part of the floor. No decoration was used to distinguish the real world from the theatrical one. Behind the stage were two doors. Actors and actresses made their entrances from the right-side and exited on the left. Behind the wall was a large room for storing scripts, theatrical headgear, footwear and props. The highest position of this room was occupied by an altar dedicated to two founders of the court opera theater. The room opened onto the court east of the Forbidden Citadel (this entrance was used by actors and actresses). Across the stage was a high tower of two levels. The top level, next to the western wall, was reserved to the queen, concubines and maidservants. On the ground level was a carved chair for the Emperor. These two levels were kept separated by a bamboo blind which offered the spectators a good view of the outside, preventing them from being seen. Only the fluttering sounds made by fans, such as birds’ wings, or giggles could sometimes be heard. On both sides of the Emperor’s carved chair were other chairs for State guests. There sat the Governor General and the Superior Resident sometimes during the French occupation.
COLONIAL HOUSE OF THE FRENCH INFLUENCE
ENTRANCE TO THE THIEN MU PAGODA
THIEN MU PAGODA – Built in 1601 between a river and a pine forest, the Thien Mu Pagoda (“Heavenly Lady Pagoda”) in Hue is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country. Among the many interesting artifacts housed at the complex is the car that took the monk Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation in 1963 Saigon

THIEN MU PAGODA  - A BELL CAST IN 1710                                                                            THIEN MU PAGODA  – A MASSIVE BELL CAST IN 1710

THIEN MU PAGODA BELL (DETAIL)
A RELIC – A building near the rear of the complex houses a national relic: the car in which the monk Thich Quang Duc rode from his temple to Saigon on June 11, 1963. He stepped out of the car in an intersection, sat down in the lotus position, and burned himself to death in protest against the regime’s violations of religious freedom.
DECORATIVE URN AT THIEN MU PAGODA
TORTOISE STELAE – Stele erected in 1715 on the back of a massive marble turtle, the stele records the history of Buddhism in Hue.
TU DUC TOMBS – Tu Duc Tomb (built 1864-67) Emperor Tu Duc enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch of the Nguyen dynasty, ruling from 1848-83. Although he had over a hundred wives and concubines, he was unable to father a son (possibly he became sterile after contracting smallpox). Thus, it fell to him to write his own epitaph on the deeds of his reign. He felt this was a bad omen, but the epitaph can still be found inscribed on the stele in the pavilion just to the east of the Emperor’s tomb. This stele is the largest of its type in Vietnam, and had to be brought here from a quarry over 500 kilometers away–a trip that took four years. Tu Duc began planning his tomb long before his death in 1883. The major portions of the tomb complex were completed from 1864-67, along with future temple buildings that served as a palatial retreat for Tu Duc and his many wives during his lifetime. Construction of the tomb demanded so much corvee labor and extra taxation that there was an abortive coup against Tu Duc in 1866. This was put down, and for the remainder of his life, Tu Duc continued to use the tomb’s palace buildings as his place of residence. Amenities for the living are unmatched at any other tomb in Vietnam. Here, the Emperor could boat on the lake and hunt small game on the tiny island in the lake’s middle. He could recline at Xung Khiem Pavilion and recite or compose poetry in the company of his concubines. After trips on the lake, the boats would moor at Du Khiem Pavilion, from which the Emperor and his entourage could walk directly west into the palace area of the tomb. After the Emperor’s death in 1883 his adopted son Kien Phuc took over as the Nguyen Emperor. Perhaps because he only ruled seven months before dying, a separate tomb was not established for him. Instead, he was laid to rest in a small corner on the grounds of Tu Duc’s tomb. Between the tombs of Tu Duc and his son is the tomb of Empress Le Thien Anh, Tu Duc’s primary wife. Interestingly, despite the grandeur of the site and the amount of time Tu Duc spent here, he was actually buried in a different, secret location somewhere in Hue. To keep the secret safe the 200 laborers who buried the king were all beheaded after they returned from the secret route. To this day, the real tomb of Tu Duc remains hidden for future generations to discover.
TU DUC TOMB (DETAIL)

LUU KHIEM LAKE – XUNG KHIEM PAVILION BUILT IN 1865 T THE TUDUC TOMB
XUNG KHIEM PAVILION DRAGON (DETAIL)
HOA KIEM PALACE – Hoa Khiem Palace, the Emperor’s residence when he was visiting. After his death, the palace was converted into a temple where the Emperor’s memory was worshipped.

HUE DRAGON BOATS ARE LONG TAILED AND COLORFUL IN THE SHAPE OF DRAGONS, AND ARE USED ON THE PERFUME RIVER TO VISIT THE TORIST ATTRACTIONS.
DRAGON BOAT DETAIL

PHOTOS BY:

LEONARD EPSTEIN

JANELLE BURGESS

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