Shrines and altars honouring studying and education are being displayed at an exhibition organised at Hanoi's Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), which also houses motifs of Confucius and other learned scholars.


The exhibition of Ancient Van Tu and Van Chi in Thang Long and Neighbouring Regions shows 130 images and many objects relating to Van Tu and Van Chi including books, tubes to store scrolls, wood blocks and ideographic scripts carved on stone stelae.

They show the architecture of Van Tu and Van Chi in Thang Long (the former name of Hanoi ) and some northern provinces such as Hung Yen, Ha Nam and Ninh Binh as well as how people worship Confucius and recognised scholars.

Van Chi was an open-air platform serving as an altar dedicated to Confucius and honouring the local laureates of mandarin competitions.

Images of Van Tu displayed at the exhibition are temples with three or five components and two wings. Once a villager passed the royal court exam, he received the title of First Doctoral Laureate conferred by the King. When he passed away, he would be worshipped at his home province’s Van Tu. In some provinces, Van Chi was built as a roofed communal house but it's always smaller than Van Tu.

During wartime, many Van Tu and Van Chi were damaged or destroyed but the local authorities and villagers are aware of the value of these places and work hard to preserve them. In some regions, Van Tu and Van Chi have become a meeting place for community clubs.

"The exhibition brings the public messages of preserving the nation's respect for teachers and education and fondness of learning," said Pham Thi Thuy Hang, vice director of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam Centre for Scientific Activities. "Preserving and promoting the value of Van Tu and Van Chi means we preserve and promote the nation's cultural values at the same time."

The exhibition will run until February 25.