Nghe Temple Hai Phong, located not far from the Municipal Theatre, is more than just a religious site. It has strong historical symbolism as it was devoted to Le Chan, the founder of Hai Phong City.
Location: Nghe Temple is situated in Me Linh Ward, Le Chan District, Hai Phong City
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Entrance gate Nghe temple Hai Phong
Table of contents
The legend of Le Chan
Le Chan established the settlement of An Bien village, the predecessor to Hai Phong. Le Chan was a female general who fought the Chinese alongside Vietnamese national heroines – Hai Ba Trung or Trung Trac and Trung Nhi in the year 43 AD. (Trung Trac is the only queen in Vietnamese history and Trung Nhi is her younger sister)
From the young age, Le Chan was known for her beauty and strong will. The Chinese official demanded to marry her. Because her parents firmly refused, letting her escape, the evil man killed her father.
Le Chan determined to avenge her father and fight the enemy to save the country. She secretly recruited soldiers, set up a farm in a new land, both preparing food and training forces to wait. When Trung Trac set up a flag in Me Linh, Le Chan and the army of An Bien camp promptly joined. The uprising succeeded, Trung Trac became king, claiming to be Trung Vuong, stationed in Me Linh. Le Chan became a General with many victories.
In 43, Han Emperor ordered General Ma Vien to bring his soldiers to the northeast to fight. Le Chan led the army to stop the enemy, causing them much damage. But due to the difference in force, she had to retreat to protect Me Linh.
After the Cam Khe line line broke, Hai Ba Trung died. Le Chan had to withdraw his troops to the mountains of Lat Son in Ha Nam now, set up a base to fight the enemy. Ma Vien ordered the troops to encircle the base and block the food supply line. For this reason, Le Chan must commit suicide to preserve her honor
Believed to be the female General’s sacrifice, An Bien people built a temple, which is – An Bien ancient temple today.
History and Architecture
History of Nghe Temple Hai Phong
Formerly, Nghe temple was also known as Ngan temple, which was built in the land bordering Tam Bac river and Cam river. By the late 19th century, the land of the ancient village of An Bien, according to the treaty of the year of Giap Tuat (1874), belonged to the French colonialists. An Bien villagers were forced to relocate Nghe Temple. Legend has it that when people carried Thach Quang (a piece of coffin of female General Le Chan from the battlefield) to the current temple location, the rope broke. Thach Quang did not budge even though everyone tried. Therefore, the village decided to restore the temple of General Le Chan here.
Nghe Temple is not only an ancient architectural work but also a cultural place and a familiar place of beliefs of Hai Phong people. Nghe Temple is the common name, the word name is “An Bien ancient temple”. The original temple was a small temple made of bamboo, wood and thatched roofs. Then it has changed through years:
By 1919, the temple was built and renovated with the architectural style of the Nguyen Dynasty.
In 1975, Nghe temple was ranked national historical and cultural relics by the State.
In 2008 – 2009, leaders of Haiphong paid attention to renovating the temple. The temple is becoming more spacious.
Architecture of Nghe Temple Hai Phong
In addition to visiting the unique architectural complex of the temple, visitors also admire many valuable stone sculptures, typically stone bells and stone beds – ancient style, made of precious stones of Mount Kinh Chu. Although the temple size is not large, the layout is in harmony. The wooden sculptures of Tu Linh – “dragon, unicorn, turtle, phoenix” and others such as peach, pomegranate, lotus, lemon … are very elaborate and delicate. The heads of the blades, the roof of the house are embossed with the shape of a flying dragon, the phoenix dancing, the scenery of Yen Tu mountain, the scene of Hai Ba leading the army … adding to the majesty of the temple.
Nghe Temple is a relic consisting of two main halls – the front worshipping hall and the harem.
sculpture on stone Nghe temple
Firstly, the harem is the place where the beautifully sculpted statue of General Le Chan is situated with altars for her parents placed on the two sides. On the outside of the harem, there are embossed bas-reliefs, simulating stories of wars.
Secondly, the square main hall was built in 1926. This place has a two-story architecture with eight curved roofs with the shape “dragon adoration, phoenix welcome” rising in the air like the arms of the girls in the dance with lights. The roof of the main hall is filled with lime mortar. In the middle of the roof has four Chinese words “An Bien Co Mieu”, which means “An Bien Ancient Shrine” in English, flanked by phoenixes.
Nghe temple Haiphong
Besides, in the temple, there is a stone bell with the relief of “Long Van Khanh Hoi” theme, having delicate, soft and flexible lines. The bell is made from a stone monolithic 5cm thick, 1m high, 1.6m wide. In the foreground, there are 2 dragons flanking the moon and clouds flying around. The back is carved with flying clouds and water waves.
In addition to the main temple, there is a Điện Tứ Phủ – a altar which worships for 4 goddesses who rule over sky, mountains, rivers and land. Điện Tứ Phủ overlooks Le Chan street through the main gate. When walking through the main gate looking to the left, it was the stele house. In the middle of the stele house is a stone stele is 1,5m high; 0.85m wide; 0.2m thick. The content of engraved on stele is the biography and career of General Le Chan by ancient Chinese characters.
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Being a place where festivals in commemoration of the honorable General Le Chan are held annually, Nghe Temple is obviously the holder of Haiphong residents’ deep-seated beliefs.
Every year, on the occasion of the birth of female general Le Chan – February 8, December 25, August 15, Hai Phong people came to An Bien people to commemorate her. They pray in serenity and listen wholeheartedly to the echo of history.