Temple of Literature

The Squeaky Robot


I met Phuong and her twelve-year old daughter Dan outside the Temple of Literature. Established in 1070 by King Lý Thánh Tông, this is a historic fixture of Hanoi that is not to be missed. It was used to foster the talent and energy of Vietnam’s people, a serene place for sages and Confucian scholars to learn and train; “The talent of the country is the health of the country,” Phuong explained. We walked along hundreds of stone tablets resting on carved tortoises, symbols of longevity and wisdom. These were in honor of the doctor laureates who had excelled in a given discipline: history, math, politics, it goes on and on. Every facet of this place was dripping with venerable tradition; it seemed an appropriate vestige of ancient ways, an homage to literature and the written word, as I watched a master of classic calligraphy make his brush dance.


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