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Nighttime Temple

December 20, 2011

There’s a Buddhist temple across the street from our dormitory complex, and the giant Buddha that sits there dominates part of our skyline. It’s a very visible landmark here, and I see it every day. However, until recently, I haven’t actually been to the temple. This evening, as the Buddha was lit up, Theo and I figured it would be a good time to visit.

The big Buddha himself. You can see the outline of his lotus flower in his hand. Buddha is often depicted with a halo in many forms of Buddhist art. Most of these aren’t 15 feet in diameter, however.

Big Buddha sits on top of his own small garden shrine. The pot in the center is for burning incense.

Inside the main body of the temple, monks and others pray. You can see the intricate architectural details of the temple from here, as well as the collection of bonsai trees outside the temple. Also Theo!

Vietnamese monks, in their traditional orange robes, lead the chant. You can see regular people inside the temple. I’m not sure whether the females in the blue robes are associated with the temple or not.

Lanterns hang at the entrance of the temple.

Vietnamese folklore, like Chinese folklore, places much importance on the Four Saintly Beasts: the Long (Dragon) and Phượng (Phoenix) are the two most prominent at this temple and sit on the rooftops as well as in major places inside the temple.

Inside, we see the dragon’s glowing eyes and more religious iconography.

A glowing-eyed Phoenix also looks over the proceedings.

In the main shine, Buddha chills with his seven dragon buddies. Of the four saintly beasts, dragons are the most important in Vietnamese mythology. The creation myth of the Vietnamese people has them being the descendents of a dragon and a fairy.

A more pulled-back view of the main part of the temple.

Another glowing-eyed dragon. There are a lot of dragons here.

A large Buddha here is emblazoned with a swastika. Sadly, the swastika was used as a symbol by Nazi Germany and today is viewed by most as a symbol of fascism, racial hatred, and genocide. The swastika was used for thousands of years for many groups as a symbol of good luck and fortune, and is associated with Buddhism in many east Asian countries. The swastika used by the Nazis is a geometric flip of the ones used by Buddhists.

This saintly beast Lân (Qilin) (at least I’m pretty sure its one, he’s got limbs unlike the dragon) isn’t present in the main temple like dragons or phoenixes, but there are plenty of statues of him and the Quy (tortise) around the temple grounds. He also sits on in front of the windows, which you can see here are structured with a swastika pattern.

A look at the tiles on the floor. Tiled floors are really common here in Da Lat: it’s either tiled floor or bare concrete. I can’t remember the last time I saw carpeting.

Well, that’s all for tonight! See you later Buddha! (Full album is here.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. J. Michael Thompson permalink
    December 20, 2011 10:38 pm

    Daniel, your posts and photos are fascinating and informative. Thank you so much for sharing these with all “the folks back home.” As Advent winds into its Christmas climax, you are much in my thoughts and prayers!

    Uncle Jim

  2. Mark Holm permalink
    December 21, 2011 1:29 am

    Hi Dan, Neat Pictures. You are getting very good nighttime shots. I need to try more of those.


  3. Jason Tost permalink
    December 21, 2011 8:02 pm

    Fantastic pictures, and great explanations. Keep these coming for all of us back home.

  4. Doug Bolick permalink
    December 24, 2011 9:18 am

    Better than a guide book; keep ’em coming.

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